How to Fix a Roller Ball Pen

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Roller ball pens are made with special gel inks that cause less skipping and stopping as you write with the pen. Despite this feature, roller ball pens still stop working from time to time, even when there is still ink available in the pen to use. Fortunately, there are easy tips and tricks to quickly get your roller ball pen working again if it stops.

Vigorously run the pen back and forth on a piece of paper. Try quick circles, as well, if the back and forth does not work. If the roller ball is stuck, this could make it start rolling freely again.

Run the tip of the pen under warm or hot water. The ink found in common roller ball pens can clog very easily, causing the ink to stop flowing. Warm water can break up the clog.

Shake the pen up and down, then try writing with it. The shaking of the pen can get the ink inside the well flowing again in some cases.

Firmly press the pen into a piece of paper, then try writing with it. This causes pressure on the roller ball and can clean out any ink clogs that may be preventing the pen from writing properly.

Write on a piece of glass with the pen. While this may seem unusual, glass can get a roller ball running smoothly again. If you don't have a piece of glass available at your desk, try using a window, glass vase or even a bathroom or compact mirror.


When trying to get the pen to write again, be sure you have a piece of thick paper or at least two to three layers of scratch paper underneath to write on. Pressing heavily on paper to get a stuck pen writing can cause the ink to bleed through the paper and stain anything underneath. This is especially true of gel ink roller ball pens.


Shaking your pen can cause the ink to splatter, so be careful when doing this. Try shaking gently and see if that works. If more vigorous shaking needs to be done, do so cautiously. If any ink does escape from the pen, be sure to clean it up immediately from clothes and porous surfaces to prevent permanent staining.


  • "Pen Repair"; Jim Marshall & Laurence Oldfield; 2008

About the Author

Melissa Martinez has been a freelance writer and copy editor since 2003. She specializes in Web content and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle" and is now the section editor for a minor league sports news wire. She attended Seattle University.