Stuck, Leaking, and Clogged Trumpet Valves and How To Fix Them

A trumpet

As a long time band director I have seen many strange things happen to instruments owned by my students. Despite repeated instruction on how to care for and maintain the instrument it seems that at least weekly someone would come to me with a trumpet that had a problem. This article lists the most common problems that beginning trumpet players will face and how to solve them.

 

As a long time band director I have seen many strange things happen to instruments owned by my students. Despite repeated instruction on how to care for and maintain the instrument it seems that at least weekly someone would come to me with a trumpet that had a problem. This article lists the most common problems that beginning trumpet players will face and how to solve them.

Something is clogging up my trumpet!

Most of the time this problem is really a result of not having the valves seated correctly in the casings. If a student removes all of the valves to clean or lubricate them he or she will often put them back in incorrectly. If you cannot get any air through the horn at all then it is a good bet that at least the first valve is seated wrong. Unscrew the top cap, pull the valve out, and make sure that the number 1 is stamped on the valve. If it says 2 or 3 then the valve is in the wrong casing. If you have the correct valves in the correct casings then check to make sure that the valve guide is locking into the slot inside the casing. If the valve is locked into the slot correctly then the valve will not be able to spin. Try spinning the valve around inside the casing until you feel it lock into place.

My valve is stuck!

Most stuck valves are caused by one of three issues. First, the valve my simply be dirty and the built up gunk may be slowing the valve's action or stopping it completely. Second, one or more of the valve slides attached to the stuck valve may be bent in slightly causing the valve to bind up when it gets down to that part of the valve casing. Lastly, any dent in the outer valve casing will make the valve get stuck. Even the slightest dent (such as one caused by hitting a music stand) can make the valve stop working.

One other thing that can cause stuck valves is if the button's stem is bent to one side. As the button is pressed a bent stem will rub against the side of the hole it is traveling through. There should always be the same space around the valve stem no matter how low the button is pressed. In most cases gentle pressure can bend a bent valve stem back into place.

My spit valve is leaking!

This is an easy repair, but most people do not have the proper size cork or adhesive to fix it at home. For best results take the trumpet in to the repair shop and ask them to replace the spit valve cork. This is usually a very cheap and quick repair.

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  • Guest - Kevin McFarland

    I have found out that if your valve is getting stuck and still not working after using the previous instructions, you can find out if it the problem is a small dent with some ice water and a heating pad. With the heating pad, leave it on top of the trumpet valve slot in question, and leave the valve itself in ice cold water, this should make the slot expand, and the valve contract making it easier to fit in the slot and should be enough to diagnose whether or not it is a dent in the slot.

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  • Guest - zel

    I've been having 3rd valve problems. I would wash my trumpet like all articles say, but the valve just won't come out of the trumpet. I can't press it either. The first and second are fine.

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  • Guest - Chad Criswell

    In reply to: Guest - zel

    Zel,<br /><br />If the valve still won't come out take a really close look at the outside of the valve casing under a bright light. If you see even the smallest dent you have probably found the problem. Otherwise try taking the bottom valve cap off and using a drumstick or something solid to gently push the piston back up. It could be that it is rusted and needs a little extra persuasion. Be careful not to bend anything in the process though.

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  • Guest - Dan

    2 of my slides do not move at all. One is the tiny one on the second valve and the other is the one next to the tuning slide that has a loop to hole my lyre. How do I get them moving again so that I can clean the trumpet properly? The slides are totally closed with just a hairline gap between the slides and the places they fit in to. Can you help?

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  • Guest - corey frederick

    if your trumpet clogs alot you should try cleaning it out im not sure when you posted your problem but im just tryin to help also playing right after you eat is not a good idea because food particles can build up in your trumpet and can cause alot of problems like for example sticky valves and the sugars from the food particles can actually break down the inside of your trumpet. you should clean out your trumpet about once a year do stop build up i hope this helps good luck

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  • Guest - alex

    my valve has came out and wont go back i need advice but i dont want to pay anything or got to a repare shop<br />

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  • Guest - Margaret Jackson-Roberts

    I have an old trumpet, not played for a while. All 3 valves are working ok but the tuning slider is stuck fast. Have tried a little WD 40 on it but no joy so far. Can you advise what else to try? Thanks.

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  • Guest - Jay Blair

    I have a trumpet with a valve that will not return to the up position. I removed the valve and found a blastic piece that slides up and down withe the spring setting in a cup on the plastic pieced. The plastic guide is broken off and jamms in the valve guide preventing the valve from returning up.<br />Where can I buy parts? Hopefully metal.

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  • Guest - Guest

    If you think that something has fallen in through the bell (where the sound comes out when you blow) or have any other reason to believe that something is lodged in the tube between the first valve and the bell, like it probably is if the lodged object can't be found anywhere else, then take your mouthpiece, a straw, and some duct tape. <br />Stick the straw inside the mouthpiece and tape the two together with the duct tape. Take out the first valve and the metal cover beneath it and pour water into your trumpet through the bell until it flows out of the hole in your first valve's empty space. There will be some water left inside the trumpet. Take your mouthpiece with the straw attatched to it and stick it down the bell as far as it can go (it shouldn't be too deep). Blow in through the straw. <br />The pressure will drive the remaining water out of the trumpet through the first valve's space, and take the lodged object with it.

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  • Guest - Guest

    My son disassembled his trumpet bathed it then tried to reassemble, all went fine apart from the number 2 valve is impossible to put back in, I think it's because he tried to do it before it was with properly cleaned or dryer and dirt is still in the valve. I have told him to red lean it tomorrow and let it dry properly.<br /><br />Is there anything else we could try.

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