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How to stop paint sprayer from dripping

I have a Campbell hausfield double piston pump paint sprayer, which I've used successfully a few times to paint interiors, and most recently kitchen cabinets (laid outside).

I noted that the spray tip drips...the interiors I've done thus far didn't matter, the drips are small and the house is a rental, and I avoided dripping on the cabinet doors by beginning and ending my stroke before and after spraying the door surfaces.

But I am about to embark upon spraying an 11x16 room in my own home, which has a beaded board ceiling, crown moldings, and beaded board 36" up the wall. I did the carpentry myself, and I'm a perfectionist to a fault so I don't want my beautiful woodwork job to have tiny litle drops of paint on it.

I plan to spray prime the entire room, and then spray semi-gloss trim paint on all the woodwork. I'll roll the wall surfaces for texture.

How do I keep the spray tip from leaking/dripping? I'm using latex paint (Latex Kilz primer with Glidden Semi Gloss trim paint). I've used this combination in the past, and even at the lowest possible setting, I still feel like I'm pushing too much paint. I theorize that I'm using the wrong tip...which is a .15 that came with the machine.

However, I can find no information online about this particular "drip" issue.

Please help...I'm trying to get this room done for Christmas. It's all sanded and ready to go.


A. Spruce
Re: How to stop paint sprayer from dripping

Have you ever changed the tip or had the whole unit serviced? If not, start with the tip and then move to the pump service.

Re: How to stop paint sprayer from dripping


I purchased the unit new in 2006, and I've only used it to paint a 1000 sf apartment and my kitchen cabinet doors.

I honestly didn't think I'ld pushed enough paint through it to require servicing or a new tip. And each time I've used it, it was cleaned painstakingly and put away for long term storage according to CH directions (oil and all).

Do tips go bad frequently? I thought you'd need to push 50 or more gallons through a tip before it wore out...I'm only at half that at most.

A. Spruce
Re: How to stop paint sprayer from dripping

You're right, tips should last 50+ gallons. The next two things I can think of are pump pressures are too low/high. Try adjusting this in either direction to see if it makes a difference, the other thing is the gun itself. The other thing is the gun. Lesser quality guns lack the spring tension and precision machining required for good operation. In your meticulous cleanings, did you disassemble the gun as much as possible and clean everything inside? Inline filter (in the handle ), etc?

Re: How to stop paint sprayer from dripping

Oh yeah, I took it apart down to every little spring. The whole system was cleaned with hot tap water and a tooth brush.

When using it for the two projects I've done, I've had the pressure cranked down all the way, opting for light coats. The very first room I did in my rental was something of a learning experience...I found out the hard way that any more than minimum pressure was pushing too much paint onto the wall.

Once I backrolled that dripping mess of a room and minimized the pressure, the rest of the apartment turned out great...except for the small splatter marks that are really imperceptible unless you're closer than 12" to the wall.

In my own home, I'm doing a family room. I'll be sitting on the couch looking at and grousing over any imperfections in my work product no matter what's on the TV.

Is there a correlation between tip size and leaking? I've tried to look at it logically (I'm a professional engineer, and a former contractor) and wonder if even at the lowest pressure setting I'm still pushing too much paint through the 515...so much so that it "bubbles" at the aperture. I can actually see it building up around the aperture. Or, conversely, perhaps I'm not pushing it fast enough and that’s causing the buildup which results in the splatter...but I do not want to up the pressure and end up with the dripping mess my first room was.

I didn’t particularly notice the tip buildup/splatter problem on the rental…I’ve gone back to it since and noted the very small marks on the walls/ceilings. I did note it when I primed my cabinet doors…I quickly backrolled everything and then changed the spray order of the doors so as to not begin/end stroke over a door. It is at the beginning and end of the stroke that the buildup on the tip splatters off.

I've thought about buying a smaller tip...but everything I read says that anything smaller than a .15 hole is really for materials thinner than latex paint. So, it makes me wonder if low pressure with a bigger tip is the way to go…

Thanks for your continued help, and my apologies for being so long winded...

Re: How to stop paint sprayer from dripping

Just a thought but years ago a pro painter turned me on to using paint conditioners and very good brushes for both oil and latex paint to get a smooth as silk, looks sprayed finish, with no “rope” a painters term for brush marks using paint that won’t flow.


Re: How to stop paint sprayer from dripping

Kentvw…I thought Floetrol was used to thin thicker paints. For instance, I do have a gallon of it that a pro-painter left on one of my residential construction projects. But he was using it to thin out oil paint. He was rather adamant about sticking to oil paints, and he liked to use small apertures to keep the coats thin (usually a 3 coat job on out of reach areas, 4 on baseboard and wainscoting.)

In my case, I can’t stink up the house with oil paint. My wife and kids would leave me.

Am I mistaken in what Floetrol does?

DwarfWytch…First, cool screen name. Second, the unit doesn’t appear to be clogging to me…the filter stays pretty clear, but obviously something is wrong so maybe that is a possibility. How often should one change the filter? I’ve never changed mine, but I’ve kept in clean and it looks pretty good…obviously not new, but not clogged with debris either.

I’ve spent years hand cutting/rolling paint jobs. I bought the paint sprayer to help me speed up the process (I own a 3-family investment property that requires periodic painting).

In my own house, I’m also looking for speed…I’m trying to get the room I’m working on done by this Sunday so we can be ready for Christmas. In fact, I’ll be vacuuming out all of the sanding dust and priming tonight. Though, I will probably stop by the paint store on my way home and buy a few different tips and a new filter to experiment a little before fully commititing…

Re: How to stop paint sprayer from dripping

throw the Campbell hausfield in a dumpster and go buy or rent a graco sprayer and dont buy a cheap one , you get what you pay for

Re: How to stop paint sprayer from dripping


Short of throwing out the whole Campbell-Hausfeld unit, try replacing the gun with a unit from Graco. The lower priced unit is about $80. It sounds to me like your problem is in the triggering assembly which stops the paint flow. Remember that you are using close to 3000psi of pressure. You might try taking the old gun to a competent equipment company and having it checked out, but Campbell-Hausfeld units are not top of the line equipment.

Paint flow in an airless sprayer is controlled by the tip size and/or the pressure. A 515 tip is a general size used for medium bodied paints in production situations, i.e wallsand ceilings. The initial "5" is doubled in indicating that a 10 inch wide pattern will hit the painted surface. Similarly, a 315 tip would put a 6 inch pattern on the surface.

The *15 is the size of the orifice in thousandths of an inch. The larger the number , the heavier the paint it will spray provided that your unit is powerful enough to support a larger tip. Most inexpensive units will only support up to a 015 tip. If you are getting to much paint flow with the 515 tip,try a 513.

Floetrol is used as a flow conditioner for latex paints. It slows down the drying time and allows the acrylic resins to level out better. Penetrol is a similar product used with oil paints. They do not neccessarily lessen the viscosity of the paint, but merely let it flow out and level better. Water will lessen the viscosity of the acrylic paint. Most acrylic paints can be thinned with up to a cup of water (8OZ) per gallon.

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