This module will walk you through the most common reasons why your spray tan machine is not working with tips for how to fix your spray tan gun that won’t spray.

In a busy spray tan business, there are a number of things that can damage your spray tan equipment.

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Why Is My Spray Tan Machine Not Working?

A spray tan machine not working or spraying smoothly can be the result of a damaged or dirty spray gun, clogged filter, or a broken hose.

Overusing a lightweight spray tan machine for heavy volume is also a common cause of spray tan equipment failure.

Seemingly faulty spray tan equipment can be frustrating when you have a client waiting for their sunless tanning appointment but there are a number of methods for unblocking your spray tan gun.

Is Your Spray Tan Equipment Dirty?

First things first! Keeping your spray tan machine and spray room super clean is the MOST important way to keep your equipment running smoothly.

Spray tan solution is the number one reason that your spray tan machine is not spraying properly. That doesn’t sound logical but it is important to protect your spray tan equipment from the very thing that it was designed to do– spray on a tan.

Your spray tan machine is pulling the air in the room and pushing it out through the gun creating a suction that drags with it anything that is floating in the air. Dust, dirt and spray tan solution overspray are pulled into the equipment causing a sticky mess that will gum up the moving parts and cause the compressor to overheat and seize up to spray no more.

The way to limit the impact that the spray tan solution has on your spray tan equipment is easy and involves keeping those parts of your equipment that come into contact with the solution clean and as far away from the source of the spraying that is possible.

Meaning set your compressor on the other side of the room away from the area where you are spraying the tans.

If you can keep your machine under a counter or around the corner even better. Regularly cleaning any spray tan solution off your machine and the filter will go a long way to keeping the spray tan solution overspray out of the inside of your machine, keeping your equipment working smoothly.

Also, don’t fall into the temptation of putting your spray tan solution and PH sprays into a travel bag with your spray tan kit if you are a mobile spray tan business. I know it seems easy so that you don’t have to carry another bag – but it’s really not worth the risk as a leak could ruin your spray tan machine. If you do travel with them together make sure you have a sealed bag for the liquids.

Lastly, is your spray tan gun set properly?  This reduces the amount of overspray significantly.

Are You Working In A Dusty Space?

There is nothing that worries me more than the thought of getting dust and dirt into my spray tan machine. Compressors have moving parts and getting dust inside them can quickly put your compressor out of action. The movement of the air blowing through the spray tan gun and the compressor sucking in the air makes for the perfect environment for the dust to get sucked into your equipment if you are working in a dirty space.

Ultimately the only protection against this is not taking your compressor to dusty places. Of course, that doesn’t always work if you are a mobile spray technician and you’ll need to do what you can to keep dirt and your compressor separate.

Clean sheets and tape are always in my mobile spray tan bag; my shop floor is cleaned daily and reminding your mobile clients that you need a clean area to work in is helpful.

(Keep reading to learn what I carry in my spray tan artists repair kit for quick repairs)

Always be aware of your surroundings when you get to a location and begin setting up. Places like basements, garages, and laundry areas tend to not be the cleanest and may have dust in large quantities.

Cover up the area where you will be spraying, taping down the sheets to create a clean space for your spray tan machine to sit.  Make sure your filter is clean before you start spraying and clean your filter again as soon as you are done spraying. This will help to keep as much of the dust (now mixed with sticky spray tan solution) out of the inner workings of your spray tan machine.

Moisture Can Damage Your Spray Tan Machine

Moisture can harm your spray tan compressor in numerous ways. Water in the form of a spill or leak from a hot water tank or broken pipe at your studio can quickly end the life of your compressor.

I never leave my compressor sitting on the floor (anymore) and always unplug it and put it on the counter when I am done with my last spray tan for the day to help keep it out of harm’s way in case an accidental leak happens.

Yes, I had a leak in my basement a few years ago after heavy rain and my home unit was on the floor and yes she got wet….and we have lived in our home for 14 years and had never had water in the basement before or after.

Better safe than sorry, and I was sorry.

Humidity is a quiet little demon when it comes to your spray tan equipment. Particularly noticeable when you move from one temperature to another with your compressor (for example from air-conditioning to your hot humid car) temperature changes can cause condensation.

Every compressor that has ever stopped working for me has occurred in the middle of the summertime during a very humid spell.  Keeping your compressor in a stable temperature environment is important to the life of your equipment. Never store your equipment in your car. This is a recipe for disaster.

Bumps and Drops

The downfall of many spray guns and hoses comes quite literally when they are dropped or stepped on while in use. While some spray tan machine hoses now come with flexible coverings, many hoses do not and can crack or split if stepped on or kinked.

I always have an extra spray gun and cups on hand just in case of an accidental drop and I also have electrical tape on hand at the studio and in my mobile bag for patching a cracked hose if necessary. Keeping your hose neatly coiled and out of the walkway and using a hook to store your spray gun helps to keep your equipment safe.

General Wear and Tear 

Improper use and neglect of a spray tan machine will most definitely shorten the life span of your equipment. When used as they are intended and well maintained your spray tan machine can live a very long time giving you years of spray tans.

Heavy use of a machine that is rated for light use is one of the fastest ways to overheat and seize up your spray tan unit.  Know the rating of use for your equipment. It is usually listed in the manufacturer’s description as light, medium or heavy use. This will correspond to the motor sizes and recommended running times.

Not keeping your equipment clean and maintained by regularly cleaning the filters will restrict the airflow to the internal parts causing them to overheat.  Spray tan machines need air to breathe and cool properly when they are running.

Washing and COMPLETELY drying (there’s that water issue again) the filter regularly is a very important part of keeping your spray tan equipment running at full speed.

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Troubleshooting A Spray Tan Machine That Won’t Spray

If your spray tan machine is leaking or sputtering, there is no air flow, or the unit won’t power on you have a problem with either your spray tan gun, the hose or the compressor.

Let’s go over some of the typical problems that happen with spray tanning equipment.

I have personally encountered many situations where my equipment was not working properly that ended up being something simple to deal with. Also, I would like to remind y’all that depending on your business model you might encounter situations that mean you have to think on your feet.

Sharing equipment with other people may mean something was changed on the equipment.

If you are a mobile spray tan artist you may be in an unfamiliar space that will require some detective work.

Spray Tan Machine Not Powering On

Just like when your internet goes down and they tell you to unplug your equipment and check your connections, I like to go over all the basic set ups on my spray tan machine if I find it is not powering on.

If you have a new spray tan machine you are setting up or are a mobile spray tan artist in a new space first check all connections/power supply.

  • Is the machine plugged in properly?
  • Does the outlet in the space you are spraying in work? The outlet may be wired to a switch.
  • Is the machine plugged into a power strip with an on/off switch?
  • Is the power switch on the spray tan machine fully on/fully off?
  • Is there more than one power switch on the equipment–I’m looking at you MaxiMist Pro TNT

Was the spray tan machine in use and then suddenly quit? Or make a strange noise and you shut it off and now it won’t power back up?

This is normally a sign of overheating. Sometimes if you let the equipment cool off it will restart but sometimes sadly it means that the equipment has seized and won’t work again. If you are under the warranty period for your spray tan machine contact the manufacturer.

No Airflow/Too Much Airflow

If the spray tan machine is powering on but it is not spraying solution out of the spray tan gun or it is spraying too much solution then first check the airspeed setting. Is this set to push the right amount of air through the spray gun?

If your spray gun is spraying too much solution there will be a lot of overspray and wasted spray tan solution. Dial the airspeed setting down till you get to smooth spray with minimal overspray.

Spray Tan Hose Cracked Or Loose

If the spray tan machine is not pushing the air out of the spray tan gun, check the hose. Make sure that the hose is secured on both the compressor and spray gun and that there are no cracks or splits.

Malfunctioning Spray Tan Gun

spray tan gun blocked–clean spray tan gun/check solution

spray tan gun trigger not working–setting screw too tight/spray gun not seated into handle correctly

spray tan comes out gunky-not a fine mist–clean spray gun/check solution

spray tan gun leaking–clean spray gun/replace cup seal/make sure spray tan cup is screwed on evenly, firmly

spray tan gun sputtering–clean spray gun/check hose-connections, split/ check solution level

Examine the gun trigger and verify solution levels

Then turn the nozzle on the compressor to its highest setting.

Is the spray tan coming out spotty? Be sure to check that you have enough solution in the gun.

Remove the air gun needle from the body and clean or replace if it seems damaged.

Supplies You Need On Hand To Repair Your Spray Tan Equipment

Hopefully, you’re feeling a little more prepared to take care of your spray tan equipment keeping it safe from harm so the two of you can create years of beautiful sunless tans together.

Below are the tools that I keep on hand in my repair kit.  If I can’t finish my spray day because of a broken hose or cracked gun housing, then I am losing money and possibly clients.

I also always have a backup compressor with me in case I have a machine go down and it’s not something that I can repair myself.  This way I still get to finish out my day and I don’t have any disappointed clients.

My Spray Tan Equipment Repair Kit

Electrical Tape

  • repairing cracked or split hoses
  • temporarily patching leaks in my spray gun
  • sealing up a cracked lid on my solution bottle

Plumbers Tape

  • tightening loose fittings, hoses or plastic solution cups

Duct Tape

  • fixes everything LOL
  • tent repairs
  • tape down sheets
  • hold filter to fan,

All-in-one Tool–Pliers, snips, screwdriver

Extension Cord—Mobile

Plug Adapter–from a 2 prong to a 3 prong

  • Old homes/Buildings

Needle Juice

Zip Ties

  • tent repairs
  • travel bag repairs
  • holding things together
  • holding up a sheet for a makeshift barrier

Clean white sheets for covering floor/furniture etc.

As a small business owner, I can’t stock all the amazing products that are available in the world of sunless tanning.  But I can give you my professional opinion.


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