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How to Fix Earbuds

Updated: Oct. 18, 2019

You can often fix expensive earbuds with a little solder

how-to-fix-headphonesFamily Handyman
Fix expensive earbuds by resoldering broken electrical connections. It's a quick and easy process.

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Why Does Only One Earbud Work?: Fix the earbud

Photo 1: Desolder first

Wick up the old solder with desoldering braid for a fresh, clean start. Find it at an electronics store or online. Or use a scrap piece of lamp cord to soak up the solder.

Photo 2: Solder the connection

Place the wire on the circuit board and hold it in place with the tip of the soldering iron. Add solder. Then remove the hot iron and hold the wire in place until the solder cools.

Cheap earbuds are disposable, but don’t toss out an expensive pair. If the problem is a broken connection, you can fix them yourself with a soldering iron and electronics solder.

First locate the problem as you begin a how to fix headphones project. If only one speaker is acting up, the problem is likely the connection in that earbud.

Use a small flat-blade screwdriver to pry the earbud housing apart. You may have to superglue the two pieces back together when you’re done. Look for a wire that’s broken away from the circuit board. If you find one, first remove the blob of old solder with desoldering braid (from an electronics store) or an old piece of lamp cord (Photo 1). Then resolder the loose wire with .032-diameter electronics solder (Photo 2).

Allow the soldered connection to cool and then test the earbud.

Fix the jack

Check the connections at the jack

Unscrew the plastic protective barrel and look for a broken wire. If you find one, resolder it.

If the earbuds still don’t work, you may have a broken wire at the jack. If so, resolder the broken wire.

If neither channel is working, the problem may be in the plug or jack. Replacement jacks are available online or at an electronics store for less than $5. Make sure you allow the solder to cool down before placing the bud in your ear.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Soldering iron

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Desoldering braid
  • Electronics solder - .032-diameter
  • Superglue