Electronic circuits are composed of numerous individual components soldered onto circuit boards. The components have one or more metallic pins or legs attached with solder to shiny, metal-plated pathways printed onto the board. When a component goes bad and needs to be replaced, the old solder on the legs of the component must be re-melted so that it may be removed before the new one can be put in its place. With only a little patience and a couple of inexpensive tools, it is possible to de-solder any electronic component--large or small--from a circuit board.
Things You'll Need
- 35-watt, pencil-type soldering iron with sharp-pointed tip
- Spool of de-soldering braid
- Wire cutters
Plug in the soldering iron into a wall outlet and turn the unit on. Allow between five to 10 minutes for the unit to reach its maximum operating temperature.
Unroll a short section of de-soldering braid from the spool, long enough to cover the solder connection you intend to remove. Lay the de-soldering wick onto the old solder joint(s) you will be removing and hold the wick in place to prevent it from moving.
Touch the hot soldering iron on top of the de-soldering wick, directly over each joint you wish to remove, and hold the iron on that joint just until you see the solder being absorbed into the metal de-soldering wick. Once the wick has become saturated with the old solder, quickly lift the wick off of the joint so that all of the solder is then removed.
Use a pair of wire cutters to cut off the wick containing the old solder and discard. Repeat Step 3 for each old solder joint to be removed, and repeat for any joint which has any remaining solder that may be preventing removal of the component.
Lift the old component from the circuit board with your fingers after the old component has cooled. Discard and seat the new component into place before soldering it onto the board.
Tips & Warnings
- If you have plan to perform a lot of de-soldering over time, you may desire to invest in a professional-grade de-soldering station complete with a solder vacuum nozzle and heat gun. This makes the task more expedient, though at much greater cost.
- Use caution when de-soldering not to overheat the board via holding the hot iron tip on any location for too long. Typically, only three to five seconds is plenty for the old solder to melt and to then be absorbed by the solder wick.
- Never allow the de-soldering braid to cool before lifting off the solder joint. Doing so may cause you to lift off the delicate circuit pad from the board, rendering the entire board useless or in need of considerable repair.
- Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images