Suggested by: Laura Velez :: Written by: Joel Rodriguez
Ever get a stuck key? Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa… Or does a letter not even work?
Here’s a little guide to help you trouble shoot.
The most common cause for keyboards to get stuck or not work is lack of cleanness. Yup, dirt and crime getting under your keys forming a nasty little film which can either block the key from making contact to or prevent the key from reaching the contact.
Recap: Blocks the contact. Prevents contact to be made.
What those the contact look like? I’ll show you:
As you can see, in the above image, the motherboard has circular contact points for the key to physically touch. In this particular image we have another issue which we’ll talk about later.
Ok, so how do we clean the keys?
Do you have an external (desktop) keyboard? Then, all you need is a knife, preferably non serrated, to literally pop the keys off. Place the knife under the key and use the keyboard’s base as a pivot point and pry off the key. You should see something like this:
Simply clean off any dirt or food particles that may be impeding the key from moving down to make contact. I must clarify, these keyboards can be unscrewed from the back to reach the contact areas. In most cases this is not necessary, since dirt and grime usually doesn’t get down into that area.
To mount the key, make sure to align it properly and push it back in. A snapping sound is normal.
Laptop keyboards are designed to be slim and low lying, as such, they present a bigger challenge to remove and reinstall. They are also prone to grime getting into the motherboard, blocking the contacts. Spills can easily get into the contact areas forming a sticky surface for dust to accumulate easily.
How do we get in? Before we get there, let’s learn some electronical anatomy. Laptop keyboards are compsed of three (3) parts. The most external part is the actual key, then there’s a fragile plastic lever (which is responsible for the recoil feel to the keys) and finally a rubber button which touches and “activates” the contact. Example below:
Opening the key. Pry of the key with a non serrated knife. OMG it popped and the rubber button flew off! What’s worst is that I can’t find the fragile plastic part you mentioned! It must have turn to dust! Calm down… first, check the back of the key.
See… it’s right there. DON’T remove it! You’re actually in luck because you don’t have to put the fragile plastic actuator back on the key. If the lever is on the keyboard, then you will need to carefully remove it, with some tweezers. I repeat, use tweezers. we don’t want you to break this part. Use some common sense when prying this piece off.
Finally clean the area and anything on top of the contact. Please, do not use any harsh cleaners. Pledge for electronics or even Windex without ammonia may work. May I also suggest using a cotton swab (Q-tip).
Place the plastic lever part back on the key or on the laptops keyboard, place the rubber button in the middle and press the key onto the keyboard. Snap, you’re done.
Going back to this image:
Remember the contact areas? Well, these contact areas are all inter connected to create a circuit. In this image the connecting lines are faded, which means that the circuit is damaged. If your keyboard has this issue, then you are in trouble, because that keyboard will most likely need replacing. Not good if it’s a laptop keyboard which is, in most cases, integrated to the motherboard! But, how did this happen?
Regular usage of a keyboard will wear down the physical parts of a keyboard, especially the plastic and rubber parts. Spills like sodas, which contain citric acid, will actually corrode the electrical components. So DON’T spill cold pops on your keyboard. In the end ain’t nobody got time for that!
If you feel like you must find professional help, then go to a technology repair store or contact your keyboard’s manufacturer and assess your hardware’s warranty. You may be entitled for compensation or a brand new unit.
Hope this helps!