Oh no, your headphones are broken! If they’re on the higher end, you may be especially unwilling (or unable) to replace them anytime soon. Luckily, there are ways that you can fix your broken headphones yourself in many circumstances. This can often be a simple task, and many total novices can fix broken headphones without tools. These simple fixes can keep your headphones working for years or at least long enough to save up for a replacement set. Not only is it more cost effective, but you’ll feel good knowing you can keep your equipment working.
In this article, we’ll go through some of the most common causes of broken headphones. We’ll also go over how you can deal with them and explain how to fix broken headphones without tools.
Common Causes of Malfunctioning Headphones
Some of the most common causes of broken headphones include:
- A malfunctioning earpiece
- An electrical short in the sound-transmitting wires have
- Audio jack problems
- Problem with the jack plug
The Things You Might Do that Accidentally Break Your Headphones
Once you fix your headphones, you’ll want to be extra careful with them afterward. A fix might make them more vulnerable. There’s also the possibility that if they break again, you won’t be able to repair them again.
Common causes that can damage your headphones include:
Leaving the cord dangling
Leaving the cord dangling too often can cause damage to your headphones and eventually lead to malfunctioning. Don’t let the cord dangle anywhere, such as over the edge of your desk. Dangling puts unnecessary stress on cords when they sit at a 90-degree angle for too long. When stress builds on the same section of wire, it can break over time.
Pinching or pressing the cord
If you accidentally press or pinch your headphone cord, it could result in a severed internal wire. This also includes situations where the cord lays on the ground and regularly gets stepped on or rolled over by a chair wheel.
Knotting up the cord
Never let your cord get tangled up in knots. Knots put unnecessary stress on the wires and damages them. A great way of avoiding your cord getting tangled is wrapping the cord up when you’re not using them. Wrapping them around an empty toilet paper roll when they’re on your desk is recommended. If you need to carry them, put them in a carrying case or pouch when they’re either in your pocket or bag.
Not keeping your headphones or earbuds safe
Always have a case for storing or carrying your headphones or earbuds. This is especially important when you’re taking them away from home. Never just throw a cord into a bag or purse. Having your headphones bounce around inside your purse can damage them. Exposing them to the things carried in your purse, like keys, can scratch them up or tear at the cord.
Not pulling the cord out by the plug
Only pull your cord out by the plug. Pull the plug out by the cord puts a huge amount of stress on the wires. It leads to internal breakages at the wire. It also puts extra stress at the spot where the cord attaches to the plug.
Letting your headphones or earbuds get too moist or wet
Most headphones and earbuds aren’t water-resistant. While few of us intend to take our headphones swimming, they’re also vulnerable to sweat. Be careful when wearing them to exercise or do other things that might expose them to moisture.
Troubleshooting Your Headphones
Of course, you must figure out the problem with your headphones before you can try to fix it. Below are some ways you can troubleshoot your headphones:
- Using very gentle pressure, put the plug into the audio jack. If any sound comes through, the plug might need to be repaired.
- Plug your headphones in and listen for sound. If sound cuts in and out as it reaches your ears, try bending the wires. Listen for any feedback. If the audio comes through differently when the wires are positioned differently, an electrical short is probably the problem. The headphone wires probably need repair.
- Check to see if there is audio coming out of both earpieces. If there isn’t any sound coming out of one earpiece, that earpiece needs repair.
- Try another pair of headphones, plugging them into the same jack. If they don’t work, you know there is a problem with the jack.
How to Fix Earbuds When One Earbud Isn’t Working
This section is for when the earpiece itself is malfunctioning. You can keep your wires positioned where the sound still comes through properly if you don’t have tools to fix your broken headphones. In this situation, it’s best to check if your earbuds are still under warranty. If they’re not, you can attempt to do the repair yourself.
However, if you have some small tools like a screwdriver or a soldering gun, go through the steps below:
- Take apart the malfunctioning earpiece. Make sure to look over the manual that came with your earbuds for instructions. If you need to remove any screws, you will probably need to have a size 0 crosshead screwdriver at hand.
- If any severed wires are evident, get them reattached to the headphone driver. Attach them to the bare pin, using soldering. If there is more than one wire loose, consult the manual to find out where each wire goes. Ensure that there aren’t any touching wires.
- Put your earbud back together and try it out.
What to Do if Your Headphones or Earbuds are Water Damaged
When too much moisture or water has gotten into your headphones or earbuds, it’s important to act quickly. This process may require a screwdriver, but you won’t need specific tools to fix your broken or waterlogged headphones. For starters, make sure everything is completely unplugged and follow these steps:
- Take off the silicone, rubber, or foam tips and dry them off. If you have Apple earbuds, let them sit and dry out. Do not do anything listed below or you’ll damage them further.
- Once you’ve removed the tips, dismantle the parts of the earbuds. This will expose the internal parts. Usually, you can open this with just a knife or a small screwdriver in a few situations.
- Open up both of the earbud drivers and then use your mouth to blow air into the extra covers (caps) with air.
- Lay everything except the tips out on a dry towel.
- Put your earbuds in a bag of dry rice that you will throw away after. The rice will help to soak up the water before it can damage the earbuds.
Other Ways to Fix Common Headphone Problems
Not all headphones issues cause extensive damage or require extensive repairs. Usually they require simple solutions, like cleaning or patching, and won’t require tools to fix your broken headphones.
- Try cleaning out the jack: If you find that two pairs of headphones don’t work in the same jack, the jack is the problem. Try cleaning out the jack. It’s possible that this will resolve the problem. You can gently remove debris with a toothpick, though compressed air is best.
- Make new ear cushions: If the damage to your headphones is only in the earpads, you can make your own cushiony ear covers. Some people even like to crochet these.
There are certain headphone problems, including issues with the wiring, that require tools such as a soldering iron. These techniques are something you can look into if you find it necessary.
Always remember to take good care of your headphones and earbuds! This equipment is surprisingly easy to break. Luckily, there are quick fixes that you can try.