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Nail Gun Not Shooting Nails – Nail Gun Just Blows Air – Solution & Causes

Published Categorized as Air Compressor Troubleshooting, Air Tools 4 Comments on Nail Gun Not Shooting Nails – Nail Gun Just Blows Air – Solution & Causes

When a nail gets caught in the nail gun or strikes an object and diverts, your nail gun can easily jam and no matter what you do, the nail gun won’t shoot nails. This is one of a bunch of causes you could encounter when troubleshooting problems with your nail gun.

This page will provide you with all the relevant information on why your nail gun’s not shooting nails and how to troubleshoot the nail gun won’t fire issues if you run into them.

Table of Contents

Nail Gun Not Firing

A jamming nail gun can be a massive problem, and it’s not a rare one bit, framing nailer or nail gun users will often have to face this scenario. If your nail gun won’t shoot nails, it is more often than not that the instrument has jammed.

You must learn how to unjam a nail gun quickly and correctly. If you have a great understanding of all the parts of a nail gun you may wiz through the process, but if you’re a DIYer then keep the instruction manual at hand and read it diligently before following the steps I’ll be presenting to you on how to remove jammed nails!

Nail Gun Not Shooting Nails - Nail Gun Just Blows Air - Solution & Causes

Nail Gun Not Shooting Nails: Common Problems

  • The battery is not charged
  • Improper adjustment of air pressure
  • Nail is stuck or jammed
  • Repair maintenance issues
  • Using wrong nails

Although nail guns are powerful tools that are built to operate for a very long time, they have issues. No gadget is trouble-free, unfortunately! Over time, they will begin to wear due to their repetitive use. The main problems with nail guns not working are listed above. Now, let’s take a look at these in greater detail!

The Battery Is Not Charged

If your battery is old, it obviously won’t hold the charge, or if it’s new, you may not be charging it properly. In both cases, the result is a nail gun that won’t shoot nails!

If you have a defective battery (this is when it cannot retain power after full charge or doesn’t operate for the optimum time) it is best to replace it with a new one. Consider contacting the manufacturer.

Some nail guns use both the battery and the fuel cell to shoot nails. Therefore, it is important to check whether or not the fuel canister is full or empty.

Improper Adjustment of Air Pressure

Compressed air nail guns usually will work at pressures between 70 and 120 psi. If you’re providing the nailer with pressure below or above its required range you will encounter problems. If the necessary air pressure is not set correctly, you will not be able to shoot nails.

It is simple to solve this problem by simply setting the required pressure of the nailer on your air compressor. To know your required pressure, take a look at the nailer’s manual or contact the manufacturer. OR run a trial and error on a scrap piece of wood.

It may be necessary to check your air compressor to ensure it is working correctly.

Nail Is Stuck or Jammed

This is a growing issue for all compressed air nailers. I will address the unjamming procedure further down this page!

Repair Maintenance Issues

Damage to any part of a nail gun is possible due to undue pressure or use. Some common types of nail gun defects include:

  • The guide is broken or buildup or dirt around it
  • Loader spring is weakened
  • Magazine is twisted
  • Nailer leaks air around the trigger
  • Nail gun shooting blanks
  • Nail gun not shooting nails all the way in
  • Nail gun won’t fire
  • Nail gun firing pin won’t retract

Conduct routine maintenance such as adding oil at least once a day and cleaning the entire machine. You can however purchase an oilless nail gun, so you may not need to lubricate it yourself, learn more on that here. Also, store the tool in a toolbox or plastic bag to avoid dirt build-up to provide a longer-lasting performance.

Using Wrong Nails

There are so many various types of nail guns available on the market. Each nail gun supports different sizes, shapes, angles, and collations of nails.

So, before loading the magazine with nails, it’s best to check the size of the nail that best fits the magazine. OR even better, refer to the manual book or look at any engravings on the tool’s body.

Nail Gun Just Blows Air

Sometimes you may press the trigger on a nail gun and all that happens is air is blown out the end. This can be due to air leakage through the pumping valve on the pneumatic tool resulting in the nail gun just blows air.

When the trigger is pressed to shoot nails, the air is pushed into the fire valve, which then forces the valve upwards, opening the main cylinder sleeve and allowing the air to then move the nail.

If the O-ring dries out and fails to seal the valve properly then air will escape immediately after pressing the trigger, causing this leak and making the compressed air hissing sound.

Air tool oil can be used to mitigate this problem briefly. However, you may need to open the nail gun and extend the O-ring on the valve and add some grease. If the O-ring has lost its temper then you will need to replace it.

O-rings are generally made of rubber (sometimes synthetic) designed to seal the area around the head valve to prevent the air from getting through while allowing the cylinder of the nail gun to operate as intended.

It could also be the trigger that is compromised. If you feel the air leaking around the trigger, then it’s likely the trigger valve has become compromised. This typically occurs due to the wear and tear associated with pulling on the trigger repetitively when using the nail gun. If this is the case, you will need to get a new trigger, following the guidelines provided by your manufacturer or contacting them directly.

Nail Gun Safety Measures

Before describing the steps on how to fix a jammed nail gun, I would like to run over the ever-so-important safety instructions.

Nail guns can be very deadly weapons if handled improperly. Therefore, is important to be safe and risk-free by:

  • Wear protective eye-wear such as goggles to eliminate the chances of flying nails or strip collation materials like plastic hitting your eyes
  • Wear heavy-duty hand gloves to give protection to your fingers during clearing jam

Mechanical devices tend to create a certain level of noise, whether that be high or low. Nailers powered by air compressors produce a sound of about 70 dBA to 120 dBA, which is not good for our ears. During the jamming check, you should wear earbuds or earmuffs to protect your ears.

How to Remove Jammed Nails From a Nail Gun

Now that you’re aware of the safety precautions. We can dive into the steps for how do you fix a nail gun that won’t fire. Removing a jammed nail from a nail gun!

Disconnect the Power Source

The first step for any repair is to disconnect the device from its power source. In most cases, you will simply remove (disconnect) the nail gun from the air hose to cut off the power.

Take Away the Leftover Nails

Now you’ve disconnected the tool, you should take out any remaining unfired nails or strips from the magazine. This is a crucial step to prevent accidental firing.

Note: since the nailer jammed and is waiting to obey the firing order, it’ll fire as soon as the jam clears. Hence, why it is so important to remove all the nails from the gun!

Remove Jammed Nail(s)

The best approach to this is following the guidance in your manual, as it will be specific to your nail gun. But here are a couple more general procedures.

Open the Barrel by Using Release Lever

If your nailer has a release lever, use it to open the barrel. This method is secure and flawless, and most nailers will have this option. If you don’t have a release lever, try this next method.

Dislodge Jammed Nail(s)

If your nailer is a flip-style that allows the magazine to slide open without tools, then use the claw part of a hammer (or a pair of pliers) to remove the nails and slide the magazine free!

If there is no latch on the nose of the gun, then do not attempt to open it by using force. Instead, you should seek to reach the jammed nail through a latch at the top of the gun by unscrewing a few screws.

Upon doing so, use the tip of a nail and the claw part of a hammer (or a pair of pliers) to dislodge the nails from the barrel. This process is a bit more time-consuming but don’t stress, be patient, and don’t forget to remove all the remaining nails in the magazine.

Inspect the barrel and nose of the gun for any impairment. If any damage is found, it is better to take professional advice and replace the damaged parts.

Reload the Magazine

Now that you have successfully unjammed the nailer, put the nailer back together (if necessary), and insert a fresh strip of nails in the correct direction. Finally slide the pusher back over the nails so that they’re kept in place!

Restore Power and Test

After reloading the magazine, connect the device to the power source (air compressor in this case). Test the nailer on a scrap piece of wood to ensure it is now functioning correctly!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Why does my nail gun not shoot nails?

Your nail gun may not shoot nails for a number of reasons. It could be because the battery is not charged properly, improper adjustment of the air pressure, the nail is either stuck or jammed, you’re using the wrong nails, or due to repair maintenance issues.

How do you unclog a nail gun?

You first need to disconnect the nail gun from power and then take away the leftover nails. Open the barrel and remove the clogged or jammed nails then reload the magazine before restoring power.

Other nail gun-related pages you may be interested in reading:

Reader Comments and Responses

The Compressor Works But Porter Cable Nail Gun Not Firing


Pressure builds correctly and it is sending air through the gun but won’t shoot nails.

Nothing jammed….every once in a while it will send a nail out.


Not knowing the compressor make and model makes helping you more difficult.

The tank pressure reaches the normal cut out and the compressor stops.

You pull the trigger on the nail gun, and sometimes, but not always, the nail is driven.

That’s typically a flow problem, and I would surmise that your air regulator is impeding sufficient flow.

What pressure does the nail gun need to receive to work properly, and what is the regulator setting on your compressor, please?


6-gallon 160 psi tank. FN250C finish nailer.

Porter Cable FN250C finish nailer
Porter Cable FN250C finish nailer

Regulator pressure at 80 and tank pressure at 120.

When operating, gauges correctly…when I pull the trigger, it sounds normal with air coming thru the hose and gun, but the nail not coming through.

There is no jam in the nailer.


Set up the nailer, pull the trigger with nails in it, and while pulling the trigger, watch the regulator gauge.

It should blip a bit, but not drop way down.

It sounds as though the regulator is impeding flow.


Has this particular setup worked OK in the past, or did something change?


Turns out the nail gun needed a few drops of oil…it now works fine.


Sometimes it’s the little things that are overlooked.

Thanks for the update.

If you have any questions regarding nail guns, please leave a comment below, with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!

By Aidan Weeks

A passionate Mechanical Engineer with endless enthusiasm for fluid power - building off the back of over 18 years of high quality contribution and discussion stimulated by Bill Wade here at About Air Compressors. With both practical and theoretical experience in pneumatics and hydraulics, I'm putting my knowledge to work - and working my grey-matter through my research, assistance and publishing work here at About Air Compressors. Feel free to reach out any time! P.S. A HUGE shout out to Doug who really offers such great value to all visitors to About Air Compressors - once again, feeling like I'm standing on the shoulders of GIANTS by getting to work alongside such a great community

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