How to Fix Filament Stuck in Hotend, PTFE Tube, Nozzle & Heatbreak
There are many cases where filament can get stuck in your hotend or PTFE tube, leading to printing issues. It’s important to fix the problem when it does happen, but some users don’t know the best way to do this.
Keep on reading to learn how to properly remove stuck filament in your 3D printer.
How to Fix Filament Stuck in Hotend
Here’s how to fix filament stuck in the hotend:
- Push PTFE tube through hotend
- Heat up with blowtorch or heat gun
- Put throat of hotend in boiling water and push filament out
Push PTFE Tube Through Hotend
To fix filament stuck in the hotend, you can use the method of:
- Heating up the Hotend
- Removing the Nozzle
- Cleaning your Hotend
Let’s go through each step of this method.
Heating up the Hotend
First step is to heat up your hotend with the highest temperature you’ve heated it to since the last time you cleaned it, making sure that any filament that’s left in there will melt. If you never cleaned your hotend, then just heat it above the highest temperature you’ve printed with.
For people that just use PLA, using a temperature of around 210°C should be fine, while materials like ABS and PETG going up to 250°C.
Some 3D printers have a standard PTFE tube that comes installed which doesn’t have the best temperature resistance, so make sure you are using a Capricorn PTFE Tube before you raise the temperature past the 250°C mark.
Removing the Nozzle
Next, you want to remove the filament from the nozzle, then remove the nozzle itself. The nozzle will be very hot of course, so it’s recommended to have a clear workspace, wear heat-resistant gloves, and plan out where you’ll place the hot nozzle once removed.
The silicone sock cover will need to also come off so you can remove the nozzle.
It’s a good idea to use the right tools to remove your 3D printer’s nozzle. You can use pliers to hold the hotend in place so it doesn’t twist as you remove the nozzle, then use a nozzle removal tool to easily unscrew the nozzle from the hotend.
You can get the 3D Printer Nozzle Change DIY Tool from Amazon for a good price.
If there is any filament left on the nozzle, you should clean it with a nozzle cleaning needle now as it will be easier than doing it when it cools down. Check out the video below to see how to remove your nozzle.
Cleaning the Hotend
Now you want to clean out your hotend and any filament that’s stuck in there. If you have a Bowden setup with a PTFE tube, you can remove the PTFE tube from the hotend side.
To do this, remove the retainer clip at the end of your PTFE tube, then push the clip in while pulling the tube up. You might see some filament at the end which you can wipe off with a damp cloth.
You can take the length of your Bowden tube and push it through the hotend a few times to clear out filament that is still inside the hotend.
Before reassembling, make sure to check if the end of your Bowden tube is undamaged and cut straight, if it’s not, then trim a little bit off the end using some kind of utility knife or tube cutter.
This seems to be the most recommended method as it has solved many problems for many users with the hotend getting clogged!
Check out the excellent video by Ricky Impey where he goes over the steps detailed above.
Heat up With Blowtorch or Heat Gun
If the filament is stuck bad enough, some users have mentioned using a torch method or using a heat gun which is as follows:
- Take off the plastic parts from your hotend
- Get a pair of pliers and a map gas torch or heat gun
- Torch the hotend for a few seconds or heat it up with a heat gun and the filament should drop right out
- Then let it cool off and reinstall the parts
You should be careful with using a blow torch though because these will get to extremely high temperatures. It’s possible to even put the hotend in a home oven to heat up.
Put Throat of Hotend in Boiling Water and Push Filament Out
Another user mentioned that he has had PLA stuck in the throat of the hotend, and he solved it by putting the throat in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, then pushed it out with a small hex key.
How to Fix Filament Stuck in Nozzle
Here’s how you can fix filament that’s stuck in your nozzle:
- Heat up the Nozzle
- Do a Cold Pull
- Use Cleaning Filament
Heat up the Nozzle
The most simple fix for filament stuck in your nozzle is to heat up your nozzle so that the filament can be extruded through the nozzle. You heat up the nozzle to a slightly hotter temperature than normal and try to push filament out.
It’s possible to clear out filament by manually pushing filament towards the nozzle through the PTFE tube or down through the hotend if you have a direct drive extruder.
You might need to use a longer tool like a hex key or needle tool to push the filament through. A few users have used this method successfully to remove the filament from the nozzle.
One user suggested to heat up the nozzle then use a small piece of filament to push the filament out through the nozzle.
It’s important to do this if you are changing from a higher temperature filament like ABS to a lower temperature filament like PLA.
If some ABS gets left in the nozzle after a print, then you switch to PLA, your PLA printing temperature might not be able to clear out the ABS left over. One user went through this since he didn’t know they used different temperatures and got a clogged nozzle.
Do a Cold Pull with Cleaning Filament
You can also use a method called a “cold pull” which is basically when you extrude filament out the nozzle, let it cool down to a certain temperature, then manually pull it out the opposite end to remove clogs from the nozzle.
This method is useful for cleaning out filament from your nozzle without needing to disassemble your hotend or poke a needle through it. You might need to do a few cold pulls to get the best results.
Check out this cool video of a cold pull from a cutaway hotend view.
A good cleaning filament to use is eSUN 3D Printer Cleaning Filament from Amazon. Many users have left positive reviews and said how well this cleaning filament works to clear out their nozzles.
Check out a great video by MatterHackers about clogged nozzles, how to avoid it and how to repair it.
Here’s a simple video on how to perform a cold pull.
How to Fix Filament Stuck in Extruder
Here’s how to fix filament stuck in your extruder:
- Retract filament back through 3D printer
- Push the filament out with object
Retract Filament Back Through 3D Printer
One method to fix any filament stuck in your 3D printer extruder consists of making your 3D printer retract the filament back.
If the filament that is stuck in the extruder is not stripped you should preheat your nozzle to the temperature of the filament and either manually pull the filament out or use the “unload filament” command in your 3D printer.
It’s usually better to do this manually since you can get more pressure behind it. Make sure you extrude a small amount of filament out of the nozzle before you manually pull the filament back out.
The Print House on YouTube details this easy method on the video below, check it out.
He also mentions a method where you undo the PTFE tube near the extruder and then pull the filament out of the PTFE tube.
Push Filament out with Object
If your filament is stuck in the extruder and broken inside there, you’ll want to try pushing it through with an object. I’d recommend using a small hex key that can push filament through the extruder.
You might want to heat up the hotend so the filament can extrude through the nozzle while you do this.
Crosslink has an awesome video on YouTube teaching how to get rid of filament stuck on the extruder of your 3D printer, check it out below.
How to Fix Filament Stuck in PTFE Tube (Bowden)
This type of problem is very common with the Capricorn PTFE tubing, which is supposed to be an upgrade but the inner diameter is narrower than stock PTFE tubing, making this problem a lot more recurrent.
Here’s how you fix filament stuck in your PTFE or Bowden tube:
- Loosen up the extruder spring or replace it
- Remove PTFE/Bowden Tube
- Dip PTFE Tube in Hot Water & Push it Out
Loosen up the Extruder Spring or Replace it
Too much spring tensioning on the extruder is one of the common reasons for filament to get stuck inside the PTFE/Bowden tube, making a deep noticeable grinding on the filament.
If you are experiencing this problem, try loosening up the tension spring on the extruder. A few people have mentioned that it worked for them to fix the issue.
One user was finding that the filament he was trying to 3D print was getting too flat and becoming too wide to fit through the PTFE/Bowden tube and it was causing it to get stuck. After lowering the spring tension on the extruder he never got these clogs again.
You might have to replace the spring for a weaker one because the spring might be too strong and apply too much pressure.
Remove PTFE/Bowden Tube
If you have melted filament stuck inside the PTFE/Bowden Tube you may need to properly remove your PTFE/Bowden tube or even replace it as one user experienced after the filament that was stuck expanded inside the tube.
There’s a piece of filament stuck in my MK3S+ hotend and it won’t budge. What should I do? from prusa3d
In this case, he had to pull out the PTFE tube with the filament still stick in there since it expanded inside the tube. He just had to replace the PTFE tube to get things up and running again.
To remove the PTFE tube, you’ll want to remove the filament from your 3D printer if possible. It should be easier to remove if you heat up the machine, though you need to be careful while doing this.
Check out the video below for a guide on how to change your PTFE tube.
I’d recommend replacing it with a Capricorn Bowden PTFE Tubing, available on Amazon with great reviews, stating that prints got a lot less stringy after changing to it.
Dip PTFE Tube in Hot Water & Push it Out
A nice method for cleaning a removed PTFE tube stuck with filament is to get some hot water or boiling, dip your PTFE tube in, then poke out the stuck filament through with fresh filament or a metal rod/hex key.
A few users have mentioned that this method worked for removing the clog from inside their Bowden tubes.
How to Fix Filament Stuck in Heatbreak
If you find yourself in a situation where there is filament stuck in the heatbreak, there is a good trick that can help you out.
This usually happens if the PTFE tube is not fully inserted in the heatbreak which will generate a small gap in the upper seal and a lot of filament can get stuck in there.
These are some steps that can help you getting filament that’s stuck in heatbreak out:
Here’s how to fix filament stuck in your heatbreak:
- Heat up the heatbreak
- Push it out with a drill bit
- Replace the heatbreak
Heat up the Heatbreak
A good method to clean any filament stuck in your 3D printer’s heatbreak, is to heat up the removed heatbreak with something external, like the RONXS Butane Torch, just remember to stop heating it as soon as the filament that’s stuck starts to melt.
Then you can finish cleaning with the help of an air compressor or pushing the stuck filament that’s melted with a cleaning rod as suggested by one user.
You can also try unscrewing the heat sink, separate it from the heater block, heat it up with a heat gun for around 30 seconds to soften the filament, and use a 1.5mm hex key to push it out like one person did.
Another user said he got a set of Allen keys that go pretty small, then got some oven mitts and pliers. He removed the hotend fan or stopped the fan and heated it to 100°C so the PLA could go above the glass transition temperature (softening temp).
He then used oven mitts and a pair of pliers to pull out the soft filament and used an Allen key to push out any remaining filament, making sure not to damage the inner tube.
Crash Widget has a great video explaining how to clear any filament stuck in your heatbreak using the torch and air compressor method detailed above, check it out!
Push it out With a Drill Bit
One user said he managed to fix the filament stuck in his heatbreak by pushing it with a small drill. The size has to fit inside the hole without being too tight, and having a vise will be helpful like this WORKPRO Bench Vise from Amazon.
It will help to protect the drill when you push it hard through the heatbreak. Users really recommend the use of micro drills if you find yourself with filament stuck in the heatbreak.
I am inching closer to the truth. The filament gets stuck in the heat break, not the nozzle. What can I do? from Ender3Pro
Frank’s 3D Shop has a cool video where he goes through the method mentioned above!
Replace the Heatbreak
As heatbreaks and are not the most expensive 3D printing parts on the market, a lot of users will choose to replace it instead of trying to fix it.
If you’ve tried many things and still get the filament unstuck, then you can replace the heatbreak with the UniTak3D Ender 3 Heatbreak from Amazon. There weren’t too many listing for heatbreaks though, and the reviews are mixed.
Some users had great success with it while a few had quality control issues such as not being the right spec or a part arriving broken. A few people said it clogged up after installing.
One user said it has been working for him well, having printed with it for at least 18 hours with PETG and 30 hours with PLA. He advised that if you have clogging problems, try reducing your retraction settings, especially the distance.
When you retract the filament too far and it pulls back past the heatbreak, it tends to jam when the extruder tries to print again.
Ruiraptor has a fantastic video talking about heatbreaks, their differences and how to replace one, which you can check out below.