3 Simple Steps to Clear a Jammed Nail Gun

There’s no doubt that using a nail gun is huge timesaver, at least until you run into a jam. In this article we show you how to clear a jammed nail gun in only 3 quick and easy to follow steps.

Using a nail gun to attach a plank to a wood beam.
Image courtesy of Flagstaffotos

When you are up on a roof or scaffolding, the one thing you don’t want is for your nail gun to jam. Unfortunately, this is often a fact of life when you replace your old school hammer with a nail gun.

Clearing a nail gun jam can be time-consuming and an interruption to your workflow you could do without. But, when a nail gun gets jammed up, there’s no alternative but to stop and clear the jam.

Knowing the steps required to clear your jammed nail gun is essential. If they are cleared incorrectly, you can damage the nailer and have to foot an expensive repair bill. So please check out our guide to unjamming nail guns correctly and safely.

Before attempting to clear a jammed nail gun, there are some basic safety precautions you should take.

Recommended safety measures before clearing nail gun jams

A jammed nail gun can easily misfire and result in serious injury for the user. Before attempting to clear a jammed nail gun, you should put on the following:

  • Heavy-duty protective goggles to protect your eyes and deflect (hopefully) any nails that get accidentally discharged.
  • Rugged safety gloves to provide some level of protection for your hands.
  • Your common-sense.

Nail guns – like any guns – should never, for safety reasons, be pointed at anyone or upward toward the user’s face. Always point the nail gun away from your body to reduce the possibility of serious injury.

Once you have completed this safety checklist, it’s now possible to begin clearing the jammed nail gun.

1. Disconnect all the power sources

Nail guns are dangerous hardware. Accidents can happen even if you adhere to the most stringent safety protocols. It’s crucial, then, to minimize and mitigate the risks as far as humanly possible.

To do so, take the following essential safety steps:

  • Remove the power cable from the power outlet where applicable.
  • If it is a cordless nail gun, always completely remove the battery from the housing.
  • Press the trigger and see if that removes any residual air when you’re using a pneumatic nailer.

Remember that a nail gun can and will discharge if it still has power, potentially causing very nasty injuries requiring an expensive trip to the hospital.

2. Find the lever

A nail gun features a custom-made release lever to assist with remedying a nail jam. Typically, this lever is situated within the nail gun’s barrel.

With the barrel pointing away from your face and body, open the nail gun barrel and locate the releasing mechanism.

Depending on the age of your nail gun, it may have a release lever. Some older models don’t, but newer nail guns certainly will have a release lever.

If a release lever is not present, try the following:

  • Check the barrel for rogue nails that are misaligned or backward-facing.
  • Be careful. If you’re not cautious, the nail could become disengaged and cause you injury.

Nails that are jammed fast (when there’s no release lever) can be removed using a nail or needle-nosed pliers.

These delicate pliers are ideal for this task as they are small and can quickly get a grip on stuck nails to remove them. However, despite using the best tool for the job to prize nails from the barrel, it will still be a time-consuming and tedious task. It’s not a quick-fix solution by any stretch of the imagination.

Please note that you can ignore the above if you find your nail gun has a release mechanism fitted.

3. Refill, shut and test

When you are satisfied that you have recovered all the nails causing the jam, empty the power tool of any remaining nails. Next, refill your power tool again with nails that are all facing the same way. Shut the barrel as normal and reconnect the power supply.

However, still continue to take precautions as you test the gun. You may well have missed a rogue nail or two.

If all is well, the gun will fire as normal without any further jams or suffering any damage. If nothing happens and the tool refuses to fire, check the energy supply has been correctly reconnected and as it should be for regular operation.

Once you get power to your nail gun, try a few test fires to ensure there are no further problems. If it jams once more, repeat the steps above to clear the nail gun.

Clearing your jammed nail gun is quick and easy. However, always treat a nail gun with caution and respect. They have been known to misfire and cause serious injury.

If you exercise proper safety precautions, though, clearing your jammed nail gun will become a job that carries little cause for concern or the threat of injury.

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