Jun 13, 2022|PCB Maintenance, Repair and Troubleshooting

What can you do with a broken PCB? Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) can go wrong in many different ways. So, how to fix a PCB board? The key is knowing how to perform PCB repair, regardless of whether it’s a simple short circuit or something more severe like PCB delamination.

Why You Need To Know How To Repair Circuit Boards

Knowing how to fix PCB boards is important because being informed about circuit board repair can save you money. If you have a PCB not working correctly, it can be costly to replace. However, if you’re able to perform the PCB repair yourself, it can save you a lot of time and hassle. PCBs are often used in critical applications, so it’s crucial to be able to fix them.

How To Repair Circuit Boards

There are a few different ways to perform PCB repair, and the exact method will vary depending on the problem. However, there are a few general steps that you can follow for most repairs.

First, you’ll need to identify the problem. You can do this by visually inspecting the PCB for any damage or by using a multimeter to test the continuity of the circuit. Once you’ve identified the problem, you’ll need to determine the best way to fix it.

Here are the steps for how to repair circuit boards:

  1. Gather the tools and other materials that you’ll need
  2. Remove the damaged pad or component
  3. Clean the track and remove solder
  4. Place your copper tape over the track
  5. Solder the joints
  6. Restore the PCB through-hole
  7. Place and solder your component
  8. Trim excess tape from the repaired area

1. Gather the Tools and Other Materials That You’ll Need

Before starting your repair, it’s essential to gather all of the materials and tools you’ll need. This will help make the process go more smoothly and avoid any delays. For most repairs, you’ll need:

  • Cotton swab and rubbing alcohol
  • Hot air gun
  • Flathead screwdriver or sharp knife or sandpaper
  • Tweezers
  • Adhesive copper tape
  • Soldering gun
  • Paper clip
  • Pen
  • Scissors or craft knife

Once you have all of your materials, you’re ready to start the repair process.

2. Remove the Damaged Pad or Component

The first step in most repairs is to remove the damaged pad or component. To do this:

  • Use a flathead screwdriver or sharp knife to remove the component from the PCB before desoldering any remaining joints.
  • If the pad is damaged, use sandpaper to remove excess solder or debris.

3. Clean the Track and Remove Solder

Once you’ve removed the damaged component or pad, you need to clean the track. This will help to ensure that the new component or pad adheres properly and makes a good connection.

To clean the track:

  • Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove any residue from the track.
  • Use a craft knife or scissors to remove any damaged sections of the track carefully.
  • Use your pen to mark the end of the cut track to know where to place the new component or pad.

4. Place Your Copper Tape Over the Track

After the track is clean, you’ll need to put your copper tape on top of the track. This will help provide a good connection for the new component or pad. Cut a piece of copper tape slightly longer than the track and place it over the track. Make sure that the ends of the tape are flush with the edges of the PCB.

5. Solder the Joints

After the copper tape is in place, you’ll need to solder the joints. This will help create a permanent connection between the new track and the pads on either side of it. To do this:

  • Apply a small amount of solder to one of the pads and use a soldering gun to heat it until the solder melts.
  • Touch the tip of the soldering gun to the copper tape and hold it in place until the solder cools and forms a bond.
  • Repeat this process on the other pad.

6. Restore the PCB Through-Hole

If your repair includes a through-hole, you’ll need to restore it before soldering the new component in place. First, use a sharp knife to remove debris from the through-hole and clean it using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Next, use a paper clip to expand the hole so that it’s the same size as the component lead.

7. Place and Solder Your Component

Now that the track is repaired, you can place and solder your new component in place. First, carefully insert the lead of the new component into the through-hole and then flip the PCB over. 

Next, apply a small amount of solder to one of the pads and use a soldering gun to heat it until the solder melts. Then, touch the tip of the soldering gun to the lead and hold it in place until the solder cools and forms a bond. Repeat this process on the other pad.

8. Trim Excess Tape From the Repaired Area

Once your new component is in place, you can trim any excess tape from the repair area. Use a pair of scissors or a craft knife to remove any extra tape carefully. Make sure that you don’t cut any of the tracks or pads.

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The Issue Of Fixing A PCB Board Yourself

We should note that any attempts at fixing a PCB board yourself can ultimately reduce the board’s reliability. Every time you rework a PCB board, the reworking attempt (and its heating and cooling cycle) will limit the life of the object you are attempting to repair. Always check device reliability and status after fixing a PCB board.

What Else Is Needed Besides the Tools?

To complete a PCB repair, you’ll need more than just the tools. You’ll need to be able to work with small parts, have hand-eye coordination, and be detail-oriented. Repairing circuit boards can be delicate work, so it’s essential to have a steady hand and the ability to focus on the task at hand. With practice, you’ll be able to do a PCB repair quickly and easily.

The Takeaway

That’s everything you need to know on how to fix a PCB board. PCB repair can be delicate and challenging, but with the right tools and a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to fix most circuit boards. Remember to take your time, be careful, and pay attention to detail. You’ll be able to repair almost any PCB successfully.

Author Profile

Sunny Patel
Sunny Patel is the Engineering and Sales Manager at Candor Industries. Sunny is trained as a IPC-A-600 trainer, AS9100 Lead auditor, IPC CID and got his Engineering degree at the University of Toronto.