How do you repair/fix a mechanical keyboard dead key?


👤 Diwas Poudel    🕒 Jan 15 2023    📁 FIX

If you have a mechanical keyboard, it’s likely that you have at least once gotten curious and plucked the keycaps out. But I don’t think you have ever had to fix a broken mechanical keyboard.

The Causes

There can be many reasons why a keyboard isn’t working properly. We have listed the major ones here:

  1. Debris in the keyboard
  2. Water/Liquid Damage
  3. Internally Damaged Switch
  4. Bad Connection with the Computer
  5. Bad Connection / Broken Solder
  6. Software related damage

Now that you know the causes of the problem, let’s head right on to the solutions. Let’s start with the simple fixes.  

The Simple Fixes For Mechanical Keyboard

1 Unplugging and Plugging it Back in

This is the cliche method. The one that has been done again and again. But, it is also the most popular and easy fix for a dead key. If simply unplugging and plugging the keyboard back in doesn’t work, turn the PC off and back on again. But make sure that the keyboard stays unplugged the entire time. Make sure that you check for debris in the USB. This is to make sure that cause #5 is addressed properly. 

2 Updating the Drivers

Simply updating the drivers seems to fix most of the issues related to computers. If you know the drivers that your keyboard uses, you can simply install them off the internet. Otherwise, you can look for the drivers that your keyboard needs and then install them off the internet. If this fix doesn’t fix the problem, try step 1 again. 

3 Compressed Air 

If the above two steps don’t work, you can take the help of compressed air. For this, you’ll have to pull the keycaps out and then, gently blow compressed air onto the switch. After that, stick the keycaps back on. If this doesn’t work, try step 1 again.

4 RMA

If the above steps don’t work and if your keyboard is still under warranty, send it for RMA. While this will be a hassle for you, it is a sure-shot way to fix the keyboard. This is because the people that manufactured the device know best about fixing it. 

5 OS compatibility

Sometimes, it isn’t the keyboard’s fault at all. 

Harder Fixes For Mechanical Keyboard

The above fixes were easy. But, Multiple harder fixes can be applied. Make sure that you are out of warranty before performing the fixes here. Because some of the fixes might void your warranty. But now that that’s settled, we can apply some of the fixes listed below. 

1 Deep Cleaning the Keyboard

Deep Cleaning the keyboard is a good way to make sure that nothing is obstructing the keys. While it sounds like a chore, it’s fairly easy to deep clean the keyboard. First, unplug the keyboard and clean the non-electronic parts with soap and water. After that, here is a step-by-step on how to do that. 

Cleaning procedure:

  1. Fill a container with distilled water, and then put the PCB and the switches in it. 
  2. Sake the container. After some thorough shaking, take the electronic parts out of the water.
  3. Dry it off with a blow dryer or Canned air. You can also keep the components out in the sun to dry out. 
  4. Let them dry for at least 24 hours.
  5. Once dry, put it all back together and try using it. 

2 Replacing the broken Switch

If you have a hot-swappable keyboard, this will be a breeze for you. But if you don’t… This is going to be an experience you wish you could have skipped. Buy the replacement key. And if your keyboard is hot-swappable, it probably came with a switch puller. Use that to pull out the culprit key and then stick the new one in it.  If not, follow the guide below. It is a youtube video made by a creator by the name of BubVisuals. It is very comprehensive and useful. 

Replace Broken Switches
fig. Replace Broken Switches

HOW TO EASILY CHANGE/SOLDER MECHANICAL KEY SWITCHES

3 Replacing the Connecting Cable

Sometimes, The root of the problem can be the cable connecting the keyboard to the PC. You can fix that issue by replacing that cable with a better one. If you have a Detachable keyboard, you can simply detach the cable and replace it with a new one. But if that’s not the case, you will have to open the keyboard. Now, follow the steps below if you don’t have a replaceable cable. 

  • Turn the keyboard upside down and open it up using the respective screw
  • Trace the USB cable to its connector in the PCB
  • Pull the cord tab to detach the keyboard
  • Make sure the Cord tab isn’t broken
  • If not, replace the old cable with a new one
  • Close the keyboard back up
    Replace Mechanical keyboard Cable
    fig. Replace Mechanical keyboard Cable

4 Seek professional assistance

 If you are unsure about the repair or if the problem is beyond your abilities, it is better to seek professional assistance. This can be done by contacting customer service. Or sending the keyboard back for RMA (warranty claim).

Seek Professional Assistance
fig. Seek Hardware Professional Assistance

 

5 Replace the batteries

Some keyboards come with in-built batteries. Similar to my Keychron K2 which comes with a 4000MAh battery. These batteries can erode over time and stop functioning as we would like them to. This is only one of the two possible cases in keyboards with batteries. The other type of keyboard is the one with a replaceable battery. (or replaceable batteries). These are easier to replace. Simply pull the old ones out and chuck the new ones in. In the case of non-replaceable batteries, you’re better off following step 4.  

6 Replace the keyboards: (Last Option)

This is the absolute last resort for you. If nothing works, you’re better off getting another keyboard. You can try talking to customer service and trying to get a replacement offer. This way, you avoid useless e-waste and you get a new keyboard for yourself. Two birds with one stone. 

Conclusion

These are all the ways you can try to fix a broken mechanical keyboard. But, thinking of the time-effort-money investment, you’re better off getting another keyboard. That’s just my opinion though. Hope this article helped.

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