Airbrush Blowing Bubbles – Troubleshooting & Easy Fixes

A man using an airbrush with a light-blue paint.

If your airbrush is blowing bubbles, don’t throw it away! It doesn’t mean that your airbrush is rendered useless, and the problem is quite easy to fix. 

This is actually a common problem that faces nearly all airbrush users, both beginners and experts. In this article, we’ll discuss the causes of this problem and easy ways to fix it.

Let’s begin!

Why does my airbrush blow bubbles? Airbrushes blow bubbles when there is a pressure disturbance in the chamber where the paint and air mix. This causes the air to backflow instead of flowing out of the nozzle, resulting in bubbling in the paint cap. Causes include damaged components, blockages, and loose fittings.

Now that you understand how your airbrush blows bubbles, you need to know what causes the air to backflow and how to fix this problem. You’ll find below the causes, each with its own solution. 

You’ll also find a maintenance routine to prevent this problem from happening again along with some tips on how to clean your airbrush. 

Airbrush Blowing Bubbles: 8 Causes and Solutions

Eight problems can cause your airbrush to blow bubbles instead of blowing a fine mist of paint. Here are the eight causes and how to fix them:

1. Nozzle Blockage

Nozzle blockage is probably the most common airbrush issue. 

The nozzle of your airbrush gets blocked easily. A tiny piece of dried paint or even lint can clog your airbrush nozzle and cause bubbles. 

Solution 

To fix this problem, you need to clean the nozzle well. Don’t remove the nozzle as this might cause more harm than good. It’s best to clean the nozzle cap well without removing the nozzle. 

You also need to increase the thinning ratio as the paint might be thicker than it should be, resulting in nozzle blockage. 

2. Damaged Needle

Bubbles can be a sign of a damaged or bent needle. It can be hard to see the damage on your needle with the naked eye, but you can feel it with your fingertips. 

Solution 

If your needle is bent, you need to straighten it. You can do so by using tweezers or a pair of tiny pliers. 

Try to be as gentle as you can when touching the needle so you won’t further damage it or cause harm to the nozzle. 

If you failed to do this, then consider replacing the old needle with a new one

3. Dry Tip

A dry tip or tip dry is a paint buildup on the tip of the needle, trapping in the air and pushing it back to the paint cup.

It can happen within minutes of starting your airbrush session if you’re using water-based paints. 

Solution 

  • Clean the tip of the needle with a cotton swab dipped in an airbrush cleaning solution (I use and recommend Iwata-Medea).
  • Switch to solvent-based paints as they take longer to dry and build up.
  • Use a paint retarder of the same brand as your paint. 
  • Increase the thinning ratio.
  • Add a few drops of glycerin to your paint.
  • Polish your needle.

Iwata-Medea Airbrush Cleaner (16 Oz.)
  • A high-strength, general-purpose cleaner, great for cleaning any airbrush or any artist tools where...
  • Works well on all models of airbrushes, synthetic and natural-haired paint brushes, and is excellent...

4. Split/Damaged Nozzle

Bubbles can be due to a split or damaged nozzle. When the nozzle is damaged, it allows the air to enter the paint chamber. 

Solution 

Use a magnifier to check the nozzle for any damage. If there’s any, the only thing you can do is to replace the nozzle. 

5. Seals Damaged or Not Aligned Correctly

Seals are important to have a well-functioning airbrush. If one of the seals is damaged, misplaced, or not aligned correctly, it may result in bubbling. 

Solution 

In this case, you need to disassemble your airbrush and check for damaged or misaligned seals. Then, make sure to line up all the seals correctly. 

However, if it’s a case of damaged seals, then you need to replace them. If you’re using solvent-based paints, it’s best to use Teflon seals. 

6. Loose Fittings

Any loose fittings for any of your airbrush components will give you all sorts of troubles, including bubbles.

If you feel any movement in any of your airbrush components with minimal effort, then you’re dealing with a loose-fitting situation. 

Solution 

To fix this problem, you need to tighten the loose component with only your fingers.

Don’t over-tighten any components, as your airbrush components are very delicate and can break easily. 

7. Damaged Air Cap

A damaged air cap can cause backflow, which in turn can cause bubbling in the paint cup. 

Solution 

You need to check the air cap for any damage. If there’s any, replace the air cap with a new one. 

8. Loose Air Cap

A loose air cap causes a change in pressure where the paint and air mix, resulting in backflow and bubbling in the paint cap. 

Solution 

To solve this problem, you need to tighten the air cap well with your fingers, but be as gentle as you can. 

Preventing Bubbles in Your Airbrush

A man using an airbrush to paint a model plane.

Now that you know everything that might cause bubbles in your airbrush, you need to know how to prevent this problem from happening again. 

Here’s a reliable maintenance routine:

Inspect Your Airbrush Before Each Use 

It’s important to inspect your airbrush either before or after using it. You can do this while cleaning. 

Here are some tips to follow when inspecting your airbrush:

  • Use a magnifying glass as it’s hard to see some damage with the naked eye.
  • The most important components to check are the nozzle, air cap, and needle.
  • Make sure all the parts are well tightened.
  • Be gentle when dealing with your airbrush because all of its components are extremely fragile.
  • Check the seals, and make sure you’re using the suitable kind. 

If you find any of the damage or problems listed above, then use the above-suggested solutions. 

Use Proper Paint 

Choosing the right type of paint with a suitable viscosity will save you so much trouble. Many airbrush problems, like bubbling and splattering, are actually paint problems. 

So, it’s important to use paint that is airbrush ready. Also, figure out the best thinning ratio for your paint type that won’t cause any blockage or spitting problems. 

Keep Your Airbrush Clean

A dirty airbrush causes many problems, including bubbles.

So, whenever you face a problem with your airbrush, it’s best to start first with a deep clean to get all the gunk, dried paint, and debris off. 

Best Way To Clean an Airbrush

You need to have a cleaning routine for your airbrush. Start by making it a habit to clean your airbrush between switching colors. 

Also, you need to deep clean it at the end of the session. Follow these steps to deep clean your airbrush:

  1. Flush the airbrush with water first to remove most of the color. 
  2. Flush again but this time with a proper cleaning solution until it runs clear.
  3. Then, flush one more time with only water to remove any cleaning solution residue. 
  4. Remove the needle carefully, and clean it with a soft cloth dampened with an airbrush cleaning solution.
  5. Don’t forget to clean the needle cap as well. 
  6. Clean the nozzle cap similarly, but without removing the nozzle. 
  7. When done, tighten everything well with your fingers gently. 

Related Questions:

Why Is My Airbrush Splattering Water?

Over-thinned paint, thick paint, and excessive air pressure are the main causes of water splattering. Also, the same problems that cause bubbles can lead to splattering too. 

How Do You Fix a Bent Airbrush Needle?

There are many ways to straighten a bent needle. The best way is to use tweezers or small pliers. If you can’t straighten it, then it’s best to cut it and replace it. 

Conclusion 

An airbrush that blows bubbles can be a real pain, but following the above-mentioned solutions will help you get rid of this problem. 

Also, a proper cleaning routine after using the airbrush along with a proper maintenance routine can save you from all sorts of airbrush problems. 

Last update on 2022-09-25 at 07:28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Rich

Rich

I'm a hobby enthusiast with a real love for painting miniatures. I also happen to run this site and write the majority of its content!