Caulking Gun Not Working – What To Do?

Nothing feels better than finishing home renovations without too much trouble. However, no matter how much we try, some situations are inescapable. One tool that can cause an irritating scenario for many is the caulk gun. What do you do when a caulking gun is not working? If that's what you're trying to figure out, let's go over some solutions we've found! 

There are several reasons your caulk gun might not be working correctly. Some might have to do with the product you are using while others might be because of the tool itself. A caulk gun isn't the most technically advanced tool. In some cases, you might have to seek a replacement. Regardless, the reason your caulk gun might not be working is most likely due to one of the following: 

  • Dried caulk blocking the tube.
  • The plunger is not working.
  • Weakened spring.
  • Caulk buildup around the gun.

There's still more information to go over. Of course, not all situations are the same. If you don't find the solution to your problem above, we can go over other potential causes. Additionally, we explore the idea of caulking without a caulk gun. So, if you'd like to explore more, keep reading ahead.

Putting a silicone glue on baseboard, Caulking Gun Not Working - What To Do?

How Do You Unclog a Caulking Gun?

Let's go over two situations where your trouble could be as simple as unclogging a specific area.

Caulking gun isolated on white background

Dried Caulk Blocking the Tube

In the first situation, it's not the caulk gun itself that's causing the trouble. It will be the caulk tube that might have some blockage present. This situation can occur for one of two reasons. The caulk you purchased is dry and unusable. If this isn't the case, the tube might be empty. 

If we want to correct the problem, we will need a tool to test the caulk tube. Some caulk guns will have a metal prong present at the front of them. However, for those that don't, you'll need a long instrument like a screwdriver. Take the prong or screwdriver and stick it into the caulk tube. 

When you pull it out, two situations might occur. The first is nothing comes out. Depending on the length of the tool you've used, you might want to poke it again with something longer. Otherwise, the tube might be empty or, the remaining caulk inside has dried out. In this case, you'll have to purchase a new tube of caulk. 

Click here to see this tube of caulk on Amazon.

If there's caulk present when you pull the prong/screwdriver out, test the caulk gun again. Caulk should come out with no problem. And so, you have successfully unclogged the caulk gun. 

Caulk Buildup Around the Caulking Gun

The second type of clogging will be present around the caulk gun instead of the tube. This situation generally depends on the skill of the user. Some might have a clean experience where caulk doesn't go where it shouldn't. However, others might be doing this type of job for the first time. 

As you can guess, caulking can get a bit messy if it's your first time working with it. In other cases, it might be because of the caulk itself that gave you difficulties. Regardless of the situation, there might be caulk buildup in spots like the trigger, plunger, or plunger release. 

As some suggest, you can clean these areas using mineral spirits. If there's heavy buildup, you can soak it. However, if there's minimal buildup, you can take a rag soaked in mineral spirits to wipe the caulk gun down. 

Click here to see this product on Amazon.

Other Potential Causes

If it's not the tube of caulk or caulk that's causing the problems, we'll have to look at the tool itself. As mentioned, a caulk gun isn't the most advanced tool. It features a few parts that can easily malfunction at any given moment. The first part we'll cover is the plunger. 

How Do You Reset a Caulking Gun?

In some cases, your troubles can be solved by simply resetting the plunger. If you're not familiar with what part this refers to, it's the component that pushes forward when you press the trigger. It's located in the area where you would place the tube of caulk. 

To identify if the plunger is causing your problems, take the tube of caulk out first. Then, pull the trigger and observe what happens to the plunger. If it doesn't come out, you need to reset the caulk gun. 

To reset the caulk gun, you'll need to pull the release bar back. If you're unfamiliar with what that is, look at the handle of your caulk gun. Above the handle, there should be a level that you can pull to reset the plunger. In general, it should be silver in color. 

Once you've reset it, it should function correctly. 

Weakened Spring

In the worst-case scenario, you might have a weakened spring. The spring is what manipulates the plunger. You'll have to test it for tautness. In other words, you're observing the conditions it shows when it stretches. If you're unfamiliar with its location, you can find the spring above the handle and trigger. 

If you see the spring becoming loose or strained, it indicates the end of the road for your caulk gun. You can't buy a replacement for this component. So, in this case, you'll have to purchase a new caulk gun.  

Click here to see this product on Amazon.

Are Caulking Guns Hard To Use?

Plumber apply silicone sealant to the joint bathtubs and ceramic tile

While it might seem like a simple tool, there's still a little bit of mastery required when using a caulk gun. As mentioned above, inexperienced users might have trouble successfully doing a caulk job without getting a bit messy. Learning how to use one effectively can make repairs and installations that much easier. 

In general, it isn't too hard to navigate how to use this tool. If you'd like to learn a bit more about the caulking gun, let's explore it a bit. 

Working a Caulk Gun

The way it works is simple. You pull the trigger. And, as a result, the plunger moves forward. The plunger puts pressure on the tube of caulk and pushes out the sealant. 

Click here to see this caulk gun on Amazon.

To begin working with a caulk gun, you'll have to prepare the tube of caulk first. Start by cutting off the tip of the tube. In some cases, the caulk gun will have a feature that can accomplish this for you. All you'll have to do is press the trigger after inserting the tip. 

Tubes of caulk will have a seal that you need to break. Grab a screwdriver or use the metal prong of your caulk gun to do this. Alternatively, you can also use a nail or a long screw. 

Insert the Tube into the Caulking Gun

The plunger should be pulled back completely. Then, you can insert the tube of caulk. Depending on the caulking gun, you might have to tinker with it a bit. Consult with your instruction manual to get a complete idea of how to insert the tube. 

After inserting the tube, you can squeeze the trigger a few times. This process should fill the tip with caulk.

Do You Push or Pull When Caulking?

Close up image of Applying silicone sealant by caulking gun

Now, it begs the question, should we push or pull when caulking? It can get confusing with the many conflicting answers you might find online. Some will suggest pull, while others recommend push regarding caulking. So, let's go over some of the reasons for both cases. 

As some suggest, it's better to pull because you reduce the chances of an uneven bead. But, in some cases, users might pull too fast! As a result, not enough sealant will be applied to the joint. 

On the other hand, some recommend pushing because it allows the caulk to stick on a smooth surface. In general, the answer can vary depending on the situation. Pushing the gun works for small cracks, while pulling is easier for filling large cracks. 

Can You Use Caulk Without a Caulking Gun?

If you're out of options and need to caulk without a gun, it's a possible effort. However, you will need more patience and should be fine with doing more work. Caulking guns apply steady pressure on the caulk tube. As a result, you get a smooth and even finish. 

It also depends on the type of caulk you will use. Latex and silicone caulk are two types that you can apply without a caulk gun. The same principles apply to prepping the tube here. To get a steady flow of caulk out, you will have to curl the end of the tube. 

All in all, caulking without a caulk gun is possible. But, it can get a bit messy since you're working with your hands. Regardless, it's one option to consider. 

Final Takeaway

Nothing beats the feeling of finishing a caulking job quickly and efficiently. But, before we can do that, we'll need to find a fix to our problems. We hope you found the information above helpful! 

Before you go, do you have other caulking concerns? Are you considering applying caulk to some areas? If you're planning to caulk between the baseboard and floor, you can find out how in our post here

Are you also considering applying caulk to the toilet? It's a requirement in most cases. If you want to find out more, check out our post here. Good luck in your caulking efforts!

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