This is normal. The clips are only meant to aid in the vacuum process. Once the appliance has started, the clips will automatically unlock.
First, close the lid of the unit without placing a bag in it. Start the appliance and let it go through its cycle. When the unit stops, gently touch the seal bar. Is it hot/warm? If the seal bar is not hot or it is too hot (and the bags have melted), then there may be something wrong with the sealing bar. Are you trying to vacuum package items that are not moist? If so, test the bag by placing a spoon in a bag and place the end of the bag into the vacuum channel, close the lid and press the ON button. Lock the side clips or press down on the lid and allow the unit to go through the entire cycle. If the bag seals, then now you are able to vacuum/seal bags. (If the bag seals, you are now able to vacuum/seal bags.) Are you trying to seal moist items, such as unfrozen meats or fish? Try placing the meat or fish in a bag, then taking a paper towel and folding it in half twice. Place the folded paper towel into the bag so it is between the item and where the bag will be sealed. Place the open end of the bag into the vacuum channel, close the lid and start the vacuum/seal process. The paper towel traps excess liquids and won't affect the flavor of the food item. If the unit seals properly, then you should be able to vacuum/seal bags. You can also slightly pre-freeze meat or fish for 15-30 minutes in order to eliminate some of the juices. While examining your appliance, check the lower gasket for any cracks, dents or food particles. Please clean the gasket by wiping it with a cloth.
Check power cord to see if it is firmly plugged into electrical outlet. Examine power cord for any damages. See if electrical outlet is operative by plugging in another appliance. If your appliance has a mode switch, make sure it is set to the correct mode. Refer to your QuickStart card for instructions. Make sure bag is placed correctly inside Vacuum Channel. Wait 20 minutes to allow appliance to cool off, and then try using it again.
Note: The appliance will shut off automatically if it becomes too hot.
To keep your appliance from overheating:
Wait at least 20 seconds for appliance to cool down before you begin vacuum packaging another item. Keep lid open before vacuum packaging.
Is the problem with the lower or upper gasket? The lower gasket is located on the inside center base of the appliance (around the vacuum channel) .The upper gasket is located on the underside of the lid, just behind the thick rubber strip.
If it is the lower gasket, take out the lower gasket, clean it and reinsert the gasket into the vacuum channel.
If it is the upper gasket, please contact Customer Service.
Air is still in the bag:
Make sure open end of bag is resting entirely inside Vacuum Channel. If edge of bag is beyond Vacuum Channel, bag will not seal properly.
Examine bag for leaks. To see if your bag has a leak, seal bag with air, submerge it into water and apply pressure. Bubbles indicate a leak. Use a new bag if bubbles appear.
If you are using a custom-sized FoodSaver® Bag, check seal of bag. A wrinkle in the bag along the seal may cause leakage and allow air to enter. Just cut bag and reseal.
Do not attempt to make your own side seams for a FoodSaver® Bag. The bags are manufactured with special side seams, which are sealed all the way to the outer edge. Making your own side seams may cause leakage and allow air to enter.