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A Guide to DIY Laptop/PC Keyboard Repair

written by: Steve McFarlane•edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 3/6/2011

It is a waste to throw out an otherwise good laptop or its keyboard because of a minor fault. From replacing a broken key to replacing the entire keyboard, many keyboard problems can be resolved as a DIY project.

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    Laptop Keyboards

    Due to weight and size limitations, laptop keyboards aren’t sturdily constructed and can in fact be easily damaged if a circuit board is contaminated with foreign matter, or if the keys are incorrectly pulled from the board. In this article we explain how to go about repairing some common keyboard problems such as broken key mechanisms and damaged circuits -- if all else fails, we explain how to go about replacing the keyboard.

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    The Simple Things First

    In some cases cleaning will solve a keyboard issue, especially when foreign matter is causing a key to stick or the board to short circuit. If it is that a food spill has caused a problem, you should immediately turn off and unplug the computer. Next, turn the keyboard upside down to allow any liquids or food particles to fall out.

    You may also need to remove the keys and wipe the keyboard clean, just make sure that the laptop is turned off and unplugged before doing so. You can also use compressed air to remove any loose foreign matter -- this is a particularly easy way of cleaning keyboards that often doesn’t involve removing the keys or the keyboard itself.

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    Replacing Damaged Keys

    The most common keyboard problem is a damaged key. Damaged keys often result from them being incorrectly removed and Laptop replacement keys reinstalled. Because the components are so small it may be difficult to mend them. However, if you are keen on replacing the defective keys, you will need to ensure that you get the correct fit for your laptop’s keyboard.

    This is a point that needs to be emphasized because consumers will often purchase replacement keys thinking that they will work because they look exactly like the ones they are replacing, but they must also be compatible with the hinges, retainer clips and cup that is being replaced. Fortunately, it is quite easy to purchase a replacement key from a supplier such as LaptopKey.com.

    LaptopKey.com has a large selection of laptop replacement keys for all the major laptop brands and models. While many of the basic steps are the same, there are differences in the way some keys are installed. For that reason we won’t cover the steps here, but instead point you to a near comprehensive list of videos at LaptopKey that shows how to properly install each type of key.

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    Replacing a Keyboard

    diy laptop pc keyboard repair 

    If all else fails, you may very well need to replace the entire keyboard. In most configurations (laptops) this is a fairly simple process that doesn’t require disassembling the laptop. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for removing and replacing a laptop’s keyboard.

    In some instances you won’t need to remove any screws from the underside of the laptop, but instead you will need to remove the plastic panel to the top of the keyboard to access the screws that secure it. Once the screws are removed, you will need to gently lift the keyboard -- being careful to look for and release the attached data strip before completely removing it. Simply reverse the process to install the new keyboard.

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    DIY Laptop/PC Keyboard Repair

    In some older keyboards, it was possible to repair a broken keyboard circuit by bridging the gap with solder (this damage is often caused by foreign matter such as liquids and food particles). In this day and age, this technique can no longer be considered a good option, owing to the fact that circuits are thin layers of a conductor that is laid onto plastic; trying to solder these would simply burn through the plastic.

    In this case it is usually best to replace the keyboard. However, if you have a soldering tool handy you could experiment and try to repair the circuit. Just be warned that if you get this wrong you could short-circuit the keyboard and cause greater damage to the laptop.

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    References:

    LaptopKey, Video Installation Guide

    Image Credits:

    “DIY laptop pc keyboard repair," bigpresh

    “Laptop replacement keys," JunCTionS