Updated on: January 26, 2023


When your bicycle pump fails, you can find yourself wondering, “Why is my bike pump not working?”. When you get a flat tire on the side of the road with a faulty bike pump, it can be annoying. Knowing how to fix your bike pump is a skill that many cyclists should know.

Simply, most bike pumps are not able to inflate your bike tire properly because of the air leaking. But also some of the causes might be the improper placement of the pump head, a leaky hose, or a worn-out pump.

It might also be a seal that is damaged, and you might have to change it. Then you may need to clean and prime the head of the pump. And if the nozzle has a problem, you have to make sure it’s the right type and that it’s installed correctly.

There could be different reasons, but actually knowing which part to fix is key when it comes to repairing your bike pump. Regardless of the problem, if you follow the simple tips in this article, you’ll learn how to identify, troubleshoot, and fix such issues.

You’ll also be able to use your bike pump in a more effective way the next time you’re using it. These best practices will help you prevent any more problems with it in the future.

How To Fix My Bike Pump

A bike pump is one of the most important instruments for bike maintenance. It is a portable, hand-operated air pump that can be used to fill up the tires of your bicycle in case of puncture and tire replacement.

Bike pumps are usually equipped with a valve and hose which connects to the tire and then inflated with air by pumping the handle up and down. These may have a variety of different sizes and shapes, depending on their purpose.

Fixing a flat tire with a bike pump is one of the more common tasks you need to be prepared for if you want to maintain your bike properly and prolong its life.

1) Position the Pump Head Correctly 

If the pump head is not in the right position, air can leak through the pump head and into the air chamber. You should have a look at the pump head and make sure that it’s positioned correctly. Most cyclists overlook it, but in most cases, this one simple tip can do the trick.

It’s important as well that you’re using the right valve head.

You don’t want to buy a bike pump that doesn’t fit with your bike, so check the compatibility before you purchase one. There are a few bike pumps in the market that have very handy dual heads for this reason.

2) Tighten Unfixed Air Hose To Your Bike Pump 

The next thing you should do is check whether the air hose is loose or not. If the air hose is not properly connected to your bike pump, there will be air leakage. 

You can try fixing the air hose by tightening the hose clamp with a screwdriver or pliers.

Make sure that the air chamber of the bike pump is filled with air. If the air chamber is empty, air will leak out through the air chamber and into the air hose.

This will make pumping inefficient. Make sure that the air chamber is filled with air by checking the pressure gauge.  

3) Replace the Damaged Seal With a New One

The seals on the head of your bike pump are there to prevent air from escaping. If you suspect air may leak out, it is important to check.

Make sure that all of the nuts on the pump head are tight, and unscrew them to take a look at the seal. If it’s torn or broken, change it. 

Because the seal is a rubber part, replacing it can be quite easy. If you have been using your bike pump for a long time, it might be a good idea to replace the seal from time to time as it’s quite vulnerable and can often lead to air leaking.

4) Inspect If the Air Hose Has Tiny Holes

If the hose is broken and has cuts or cracks in it, then it won’t inflate your tire and will cause air leakage. It’s recommended to replace the hose with a new one as soon as you find holes. 

This issue could easily arise when you’re using your bike pump for the first time since it’s common to micro-damage the air hose the least you expect it.

The easiest way to fix a broken hose is to cut off the end of the hose with a pair of scissors and then tie it tightly with a piece of string or rubber band. You can then put the hose back on as it was before.

To identify invisible tiny holes, you’ll need to take the air hose and put it in a bucket filled with water. If you see bubbles coming out from one point, you’ve found where the leak is. Alternatively, you can also use an old hose as a replacement, but just make sure that it’s not damaged. 

5) Place the Correct Type of Nozzle

Placing the right pump on the tire valve is not always enough to ensure that the air pressure in the tire will be adequate. You also need to choose a nozzle that fits securely on the stem of the valve. 

Make sure the nozzle is positioned appropriately. To find out if it’s in the correct place, examine it by pulling it out. In some pumps, you can find a small core inside the nozzle. This small core is reversible and can be turned around.

If you encounter a situation where the pump does not work, consider reversing this small core and then place it back. Then check it again, and if it doesn’t work, you might be using the incorrect nozzle, and you will be unable to inflate your tires.

6) Change the Valve If It’s Broken

If you notice the valve of your bike is damaged, then you can’t pump up your tire. The valve is used to release air from the tire when pumping it up. The valve is usually made of rubber, but you can also find metal valves. 

The valve is the part that allows air to come out of the tire and is located on the top of the tire. There are two types of valve: the Schrader valve and the Presta valve. Schrader valves are the most common type of valve used in the market and are quite convenient. 

Presta valves are even easier to change than the Schrader valves, but they’re also more expensive. You’ll find that Presta valves are a bit more costly because they’re more durable.

Their durability is longer than their traditional counterparts, and you can extend their lifespan by simply keeping them clean. To change a valve, you’ll need a valve wrench for bikes, and make sure to tighten the valve correctly.

7) Lubricate the Plunger Before Pumping

The plunger is the seal you use when pumping up your tires. It delivers air directly to the tire. You need to lubricate the plunger in the bicycle pump so that it works properly. If it stays dry for long, you’ll have trouble using the pump.

Similarly, if the main seal of your bike is dry, you will find some resistance when using it with the grittiness of the rubber, and you will hear a rubbing sound. It’s good practice to check your main seal once in a while. If it is dry, then lubricate it with a suitable lubricant spray.

Some lubricant sprays in the market are perfect for lubricating your main seal, the plunger of your bike pump, and other parts of it. I recommend you choose a water-resistant one, so it works well in all conditions and can also help prevent rust.

8) Check If the Pressure Gauge Is Still Working

The pressure gauge is the most important part of the bike pump. It’s also one of the most important parts of repairing a flat tire. It tells you how much air is in your tire and if your spare tire needs to be inflated.

But your bike pump’s pressure gauge will inevitably wear out and drop performance in terms of accuracy. This is normal especially when you’ve been utilizing it over a long period. 

It might be worth deciding to change the pressure gauge alone without having to buy a completely new bike pump. Just make sure you purchase one that is compatible with the type of valve in your bike and that it fits with the pump that you have.

To test the pressure of the tire, squeeze the tire with one hand while holding the valve stem with the other. The stem should be straight. If the stem is bent, the tire is underinflated.

It’s important to use the correct nozzle on the valve stem. If you don’t have the right nozzle, you won’t get the right pressure. It will take a little practice to get the right pressure.

Alternatives To Bike Pumps and Recommendations

When it comes to getting the most out of your tires, it’s good to be 100% prepared and have some alternatives other than standard bike pumps. Another option to pump your tires is with a CO2 inflator. I recommend you get one as it’s less volatile.

This means that CO2 lasts longer inside your tired than when using a regular air pump. The only downside is you can’t inflate your tires without a CO2 cartridge. Instead, you’ll need to connect a CO2 inflator to a CO2 cartridge. You’ll have to use both devices to inflate your tires.

Another convenient and easy way to make your tires last longer is using compressed air in your tires. But it will take longer to do this than using a CO2 inflator. If you have an electric bike, you can set up your battery to automatically charge when you are pedaling. 

When choosing a good bike pump, I recommend you pick one with a high-pressure gauge that helps you to accurately inflate your tires. Some bike pumps have an automatic shutoff feature. This helps prevent them from overinflating your tire.

Why Is My Bike Pump Not Working? (Answered)

As mentioned at the beginning, the most common reason why a bike pump is not working is air leakage. But also, certain parts of it might need some lubrication and readjustments.

In this article, you’ve also learned how to identify issues and change certain parts of your bike pump if necessary. Implement these fixes based on the problem whenever your bike pump is not working.

Ultimately, although it’s entirely possible to fix your bike pump without replacing it, sometimes it becomes a bit impractical changing some parts and not worth all the hassle. In some situations, the best decision might be simply to purchase a new one.