Heat press machines have come a long way since 30 years ago when they became popular with garment decorators. But like any machine, they aren’t perfect.
If you’re reading this today, it means yours is acting up. Maybe your heat press won’t turn on, or maybe it does, but it doesn’t reach your desired temperature. Or perhaps it shuts off all of a sudden?
These are all fairly common heat press issues. It can get especially frustrating if you have a job to finish. Reaching out to the supplier or manufacturer is the first thing you should do, but what if it’s during the holidays, or they are simply taking too long to respond?
Don’t worry. You are in the right place! I’ve got some heat press troubleshooting tips you can try asap, so read on.
Heat Press Repair and Troubleshooting Tips
I can’t cover every type of press from all manufacturers in detail, so I will cover the few areas that apply to most, if not all heat presses, be it a clamshell or swing-away press.
If you own an off-brand press and you’re having some problems, the checklist I’ve prepared might help you find a solution.
*WARNING* BEFORE YOU START, MAKE SURE TO UNPLUG YOUR HEAT PRESS FROM THE WALL OUTLET AND CONSIDER PUTTING ON SOME SAFETY GLOVES TO PROTECT AGAINST ANY ELECTRICAL HAZARDS. IF YOU ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH HANDLING ELECTRICAL ISSUES, PLEASE SEEK HELP FROM A PROFESSIONAL ELECTRICIAN.
Now let’s start tinkering!
Troubleshooting tip #1: Why my heat press won’t turn on?
You flip on the switch. No lights, no sound, nothing works. Here are the things to troubleshoot first.
1. Check the power cable
It’s an obvious first to inspect but often overlooked. There are times when the power cable may have melted due to close proximity to the heating element. Check its physical condition and move to the next if everything is fine.
2. Check all wires
With a flashlight, open the heat press panel to make sure all wires are connected. There’s a good chance some may have loosen while you were operating the press, or in transit during delivery. Gently poke around and be careful not to pull any from its terminals.
3. Check the internal fuse
The primary use of an electric fuse is to protect electrical equipment from excessive current, and to prevent short circuits or mismatched loads. They’re like mini circuit breakers.
If your heat press isn’t turning on chances are it’s got a blown or faulty safety fuse. A fried fuse looks blackened on both ends. Replace it with the exact one or another with the same part number, current, and voltage rating. The details are usually available on the press or in the instruction manual.
4. Check the main circuit board
The main purpose of a circuit board is to send electronic signals from one component to another to create a connection. Check for signs of damage like swollen areas, loose solder, burnt marks, scratches, or anything that would indicate that the board needs to be replaced or repaired.
Troubleshooting tip #2: Why my heat press won’t heat up?
Your heat press powers up. Lights come on, but it stays cold or doesn’t heat up past a certain temperature. Even after being turned on for hours. Here’s a few things to help you fix a heat press that’s not heating up right.
1. Check the relay switch or SSR (Solid State Relay)
The relay controls a small amount of electrical current that flows through your heat press. A fried or blown relay box will look blackened or melted. A replacement is necessary.
If the relay looks fine, then move on to check each connecting wire or termination ends to make sure they are not melted, blackened, dirty, or loose.
If your machine is producing a steady temperature of around 50-100F, Heat Press Nation has a simple test you can do to determine if the SSR needs replacing.
“First, unplug your machine. Open the heat press panel to get to the SSR. Then disconnect the wires from terminal port 1 and terminal port 2.
Next, cross link the two wires and screw them both to port 2. Plug your machine and turn it back on. This will essentially bypass the SSR and send electricity to the heating element directly. If the heating element begins to heat up, this means the SSR is faulty and needs to be replaced.”
Bear in mind that you should not use the heat press in this condition. Since there is no SSR in place to control the heat, this might risk damaging the heating element.
2. Check the heat sensor
Also known as a temperature sensor, this is a component used to detect excessive heat if ever it occurs. Heat sensors have a tendency to go bad or burn out and when this happens, it will limit the heat press from heating up.
3. Check the power
Depending on where you live (country, or the building you’re in), the current drawn wattage might be a probable cause. Heat presses require a fair amount of power so you’ll need to make sure your press is getting what it needs to hit those required temperatures.
Typical house circuits in the US are 15 amps, this will differ in Europe or Asia. To determine the amount of power you need, consult with your heat press manual and calculate the wattage. Testing using a voltage checker is also an option.
If you live in an old building like I do (1930s), you might want to check the original wiring if they can handle the load. While you’re at it, make sure your heat press is on its own dedicated outlet, not sharing with any other appliances. If you’re not familiar with any of these, do seek help from a professional.
For those living abroad with a US made press, I’ve heard that adding a step up transformer will help with converting voltages. But again, consult the local electricians if you aren’t entirely sure.
4. Check the circuit board
The circuit board electrically connects every component of the heat press to one another. Irregular or no heating will likely happen if connections to the board are loose or damaged.
Also check the physical condition of the board, make sure it’s not melted, warped, has any burnt parts, or has bad soldering. Replace immediately if you notice any of these.
5. Check the platen connections
One common problem with heat presses is the wiring coming off of the platen. There are typically two wires connected to the platen and due to the high heat and usage, the soldering that connects them often comes off. In this situation, everything will look normal except the press won’t heat up.
Re-soldering is required in this situation. I hope you’re comfortable with solder irons if you’re attempting this. If you’re anything like me, with shaky hands, please get a professional electrician to help.
Modern heat presses will have this option. Pressing the reset button will simply restore things to its default. Consult the owner’s manual. If your press doesn’t have a reset button, try switching it off at the wall outlet.
7. Give it some time
Lastly, if things don’t work, simply let your press cool down and try again afterwards. This problem often happens with off brand presses as they aren’t built to run continuously. These presses will require a bit of rest after every 2 hours of use.
Troubleshooting tip #3: Why my heat press keep shutting off?
Turns on, but won’t stay on. At times, it will heat up fine then suddenly shuts off. Sometimes it will immediately turn back on. When it shuts off it often makes a sound.
1. Check the breaker
Breakers are meant to protect your heat press from an electrical surge. If your machine keeps shutting off it’s a sign indicating a short circuit or a faulty breaker.
Replace the breaker if it’s tripping frequently. Other things to watch out for include a burning smell, a hot breaker or one that is visibly damaged.
2. Check other devices
Another common reason your heat press is shutting off randomly is due to an overloaded circuit. If there are too many devices attached to the same plug point or circuit system, that can be too demanding resulting in a trip.
Try disconnecting a few appliances, and if tripping continues, have an electrician check the wiring and for other electrical fittings.
In any case, always have a dedicated plug point for your heat press. If you need to have more than one connection, update your home’s wiring to add additional circuits.
3. Check the wiring
Electrical wiring and its insulation gets worn out, dirty, and damaged over time. Problems with wiring can cause circuit breakers to immediately cut off the power supply resulting in your heat press shutting off automatically.
Make sure wires in your heat press, especially the ground or earth wire are in good condition, meaning it’s clean and firm at both ends.
If your heat press isn’t the cause, old or faulty home wiring could be to blame. Definitely have that looked at if you live in an older property.
- Check the wiring first to make sure it’s not melted, disconnected, loose, or faulty.
- Always use a heat press on its own dedicated, heavy duty outlet. Directly connect to a wall outlet with the correct amperage.
- Heat presses release a lot of heat. Make sure to work in a well ventilated area.
- Periodically check the heating element to test for uneven spots. Use temperature strips to identify areas.
- Make sure your working area is clutter free. Keep the heat press wire away from the platen.
I write a lot about diy on this blog, but it’s a whole new ballgame when it comes to electronics. If you’re not comfortable, or are just intimidated with all the safety stuff, then by all means, do get a professional to have a look.
Having said that, the heat press isn’t a complicated machine when you get to know the parts involved. If you love learning new things, fixing and maintaining your own heat press can be quite rewarding.
Personally, the only major setback I’ve had in the past was a wiring issue to my heat platen. Thankfully, all it took was a 20-minute chat with tech support plus a couple days of shipping to get my press up and running again.
Additionally, if you are constantly having issues with your heat press, maybe consider replacing it completely? You can look into buying used vs new. Or, if you are tired of the let downs, choose a brand name and reputable heat press that is guaranteed to work every time you switch it on.