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How to Fix a Ballpoint Pen That Skips? – 4 Methods

Written by Robert S. Brown / Fact checked by Helen B. Harris

how to fix a ballpoint pen that skips

For as long as it has existed, the ballpoint pen has been our trusty writing companion. With a combination of handiness, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness, what’s there not to love about the ballpoint pen?

However, like many other writing instruments, the ballpoint pen may occasionally experience malfunctions such as skipping. Although buying a new one is an option, fixing them saves you money and isn’t as hard as it seems.

In this article, I will go into the details on how to fix a ballpoint pen that skips so you can use and enjoy your favorite ballpoint pen for a long time.

Ways to Fix a Skipping Ballpoint Pen

Method 1: Heating

One of the reasons why a ballpoint pen skips is because its tip is clogged, resulting in some ink getting dried in the tube or at the tip.

That’s fairly easy to fix, you just need to use heat, which will reactivate the ink and loosen the clog, getting the dried ink out of the metal tip.

What’s so amazing about this method is, in addition to fixing skipping ballpoint pens, it is able to revive ballpoint pens affected by the ink freeze phenomenon. You just need to follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Uncap the ballpoint pen and remove the ink tube from the barrel if the pen allows for disassembly.

Step 2: Apply heat and get a ballpoint pen to work again. There are several ways to do this:

1. Using a lighter, stove, or candle


    • Light a candle, stove, or lighter and place the tip under the flame.
    • Slowly turn the tip to distribute the heat on the metal tip.
    • Remove the tip from the flame after 2-4 seconds.

2. Using a heat gun or hair dryer


    • Turn on the heat gun or blower.
    • Test the heat, it should not be too hot as it can melt the plastic parts of the pen.
    • Position the nozzle about 1-2 inches from the tip and apply heat for not more than 10 seconds.

3. Hot water dipping


    • Prepare hot water.
    • Get a cup and fill it with the hot water that you have prepared.
    • Submerge the ink tube, with the tip facing down.
    • Wait at least 10 minutes.

Step 3: Turn off the heat source, then clean/dry the tip using a paper towel.

Step 4: Scribble and test the pen on a sheet of paper. Repeat from step 2 if it still is not working.

Tip: If you happen to have gel pens with the same problem, you can use this method to fix a gel pen that skips as well.

Method 2: Shaking


Imagine this: When examining your new ballpoint pen that’s not working, you realize that, in fact, the pen has ink but won’t write. How could this happen? What might be the culprit? Actually, the problem is as simple as the method to fix it.

Check the pen, and if you see air bubbles in the ink tube, the main culprit is definitely the accumulated air in the ink tube. This is commonly observed on ballpoint pens consumed halfway, where there is more space in the ink tube.

This excess air forms air pockets blocks the normal flow of the ink. To fix pen ink flow, you just have to release the bubbles using the following steps:

What to do:

  1. Take out the ink tube from the barrel.
  2. Hold the ink tube between your thumb and index finger at the bottom end.
  3. Shake it vigorously or tap it on the table. That should force the air out. Be careful, the ink might leak out of the tip.
  4. Continue shaking until the air bubbles completely go away.
  5. Wipe the tips and try to scribble. Repeat from step one if it’s still not working.

Method 3: Blowing Into the Pen


Blowing is go-to method to fix a dry pen or if the pen ink is not flowing smoothly. By introducing air to push the ink toward the tip, you can get the pen to work again.

There are two ways to blow: one involves doing it manually while the other involves using an air compressor. The latter method is more suitable if you have several pens to fix:

What to do:

Step 1: Get the ink tube out of the barrel.

Step 2: Introduce air at the open end of the ink tube:

1. Manual blow.

  • Hold the closed end of the ink tube with your fingers. The open end should be connected with your mouth.
  • Take a deep breath and blow Remember to cover the entire opening by tightly pressing your lips to maintain air pressure as you blow.
  • Repeat the process several times.

2. Using an air compressor

  • Check if the air pressure is good enough, if not, you can set your compressor at 50 psi.
  • Connect the open end of the ink tube with the compressor’s nozzle.
  • Blast it.

Step 3: Test it for writing.

Method 4: Striking


Skipping ballpoint pens can sometimes be caused by unconditioned metal balls. It either requires either more friction or a bit of exercise to get it ready.

Striking the tip on a rubber or rough surface subjects the metal ball to more resistance than writing it on a thin sheet of paper, producing heat that could help get the ball tip rolling.

What to do:

  1. Look for a rubber material. For example, rubber soles from shoes or rubber mats. Alternatively, you can make use of other materials with rough surfaces, like an emery board.
  2. Strike the tip directly and forcefully on the chosen rough surface medium.
  3. You can test and check right away if it’s working.
  4. If not, strike again, this time faster and with more force.
  5. Repeat until the pen is ready to write.


How to fix a ballpoint pen that skips is easy. The quickest way to do it is by shaking it vigorously or by striking it on a rough surface.

However, if any of that doesn’t work, your ballpoint pen must be badly clogged or the inside is blocked with air pockets. If that is the case, heating the tip using any source of heat, blowing it manually, or with the aid of an air compressor should work for your pen.

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