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Soldering iron tips and tricks: Troubleshooting

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Your soldering iron will probably stop working at some point. Whether and when this will happen depends on a variety of factors such as general usage, quality of the soldering iron, operating environment, skills and workmanship among others. If this happens, it’s important to have a few troubleshooting skills to help you troubleshoot and if possible repair your soldering iron. We will look at a few common problems and suggest probable solutions to the same.

Inadequate heating

If your soldering iron is heating but is doing so inadequately, the most common reason is that you have a damaged soldering iron tip. The thermostat and all other heat transfer elements are probably working fine but sufficient heat isn’t transferred to the surface as you would like. Your tip probably has a large accumulation of metal oxides that form a coating which hinder the transfer of heat. If this is the problem, grind your tip against sandpaper and then solder it. Preheat it to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit and it should be as good as new. It is also important to ensure that the contact between the tip and the heating element is well fixed to avoid heat loss.

Cold soldering iron – http://www.amazon.com/iCooker-Soldering-Iron-Watt-Solder/dp/B01774KARE

A cold soldering iron implies that the electricity to heat connection is faulty. This could be anywhere from the power outlet, thermostat or anything within the circuit. It may be necessary to replace the heating element or take the iron apart and fix it again to ensure no loose connections. Make sure that the iron is not live while you attempt any kind of troubleshooting. If there are no loose connections and the iron is still cold, you may have a case of an expired heating element which may need replacing.

SOLDERING IRON TIPS AND TRICKS: TIP CARE

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Soldering tips are often built to last over a relatively long period of time. However, continued mishandling and poor use results in damaged tips. Here are some tips to ensure that your tip remains usable even after long periods of working and an extended lifetime.

Use a soldering iron cradle

This will ensure that your soldering iron tip does not come into contact with materials that could reduce the integrity of the tip. Good soldering cradles often include a brass sponge, the best tool to clean soldering tips. Avoid the continued use of wet regular sponges to clean the tips as this eventually leads to degradation.

Use flux in limited quantities

Most people make the mistake of cleaning their soldering iron tips using flux. However, the reducing action of rosin-based and other types of flux is corrosive and thus ends up damaging the tip. Instead, make a habit of applying a small amount of flux while cleaning as opposed to dipping the tip in a can of flux.

Limit the use of abrasive cleaners

These include sandpaper and brass. As effective as these are, it’s better to use high quality solder with good concentrations of tin and relatively high metal quality. This prolongs the life of the soldering iron tip significantly.

Use of solder to clean the tip

This is especially helpful once you are done using your soldering iron. Solder the iron tip, heat the soldering iron, allow it to cool and then wipe off the solder from the tip. This results in a longer tip life than can be achieved with any other cleaning method. However, these are not the only measures that can be applied to prolong the life of your soldering tip and you may have discovered more within your use of soldering irons.

Soldering iron tips and tricks: Soldering iron care

Posted by on in SOLDERING IRON CARE | 0 comments

Soldering irons are built to last over a significantly long time period. However, this can be further improved by taking measures to ensure the operational efficiency of the tool at all times. Some of the common tips to keep your soldering iron in perfect condition include:

Storing in a re-sealable bag

This is done to reduce the effects of corrosion and humidity. When in contact with oxygen, iron and copper tend to oxidize. These metal oxides form layers of coatings that hinder the transfer of heat from the heating element to the tip. If the iron is not to be used for a long period of time, it should be stored in a re-sealable bag. The lack of air and other agents in such a bag reduces oxidation.

Reduce idling at high temperatures

This is the situation where the soldering iron is left to idle at temperatures that are normally achieved during operation. This eventually leads to tip damage or worse still, damage to the soldering iron. Instead, ensure that you switch off power supply to the iron either at the power outlet or suing the iron’s inbuilt power switching mechanism.

Check for loose wires and cord

These pose the greatest risk especially that of short circuits, fires and burns. If you notice any looses or damaged wires and cords, have a qualified electrician fix or replace them. However, as this can be expensive, it’s preferable to take preventive measures to ensure the cords remain in place and in good condition.

Minimize use of power extension cords

Most of the commercially available extension cords are usually low-duty and may not deal with heavy power requirements. If possible, do not plug in the soldering iron into an extension cord but rather plug it directly into the wall outlet.

Soldering irons are built to last over a significantly long time period. However, this can be further improved by taking measures to ensure the operational efficiency of the tool at all times. Some of the common tips to keep your soldering iron in perfect condition include:

Storing in a re-sealable bag

This is done to reduce the effects of corrosion and humidity. When in contact with oxygen, iron and copper tend to oxidize. These metal oxides form layers of coatings that hinder the transfer of heat from the heating element to the tip. If the iron is not to be used for a long period of time, it should be stored in a re-sealable bag. The lack of air and other agents in such a bag reduces oxidation.

Reduce idling at high temperatures

This is the situation where the soldering iron is left to idle at temperatures that are normally achieved during operation. This eventually leads to tip damage or worse still, damage to the soldering iron. Instead, ensure that you switch off power supply to the iron either at the power outlet or suing the iron’s inbuilt power switching mechanism.

Check for loose wires and cord

These pose the greatest risk especially that of short circuits, fires and burns. If you notice any looses or damaged wires and cords, have a qualified electrician fix or replace them. However, as this can be expensive, it’s preferable to take preventive measures to ensure the cords remain in place and in good condition.

Minimize use of power extension cords

Most of the commercially available extension cords are usually low-duty and may not deal with heavy power requirements. If possible, do not plug in the soldering iron into an extension cord but rather plug it directly into the wall outlet.