Some tips on fixing "noisy" volume controls

  Some folks use contact cleaner - but some contact cleaners will melt or damage plastics so you may want to watch for that and test on a small area.  

     Most common mistakes I see are people giving a part a bath - flooding it with cleaners - while this may be ok for some parts, it is often overboard for volume controls and such - and can damage other parts around -often due to the thermal shock - as the propellant in these sprays is they type that can drop temperature very quick on release.  Soldered parts can shrink faster than the board they are soldered to, causing them to break the connection sometimes.

 I looked and found one contact cleaner at Radio Shack that is also an anti-oxidant type of compound. It may work and would be likely close by for most folks and I think it is under $8. it is RadioShack® Anti-Corrosive Lubricant Spray Model: M20S-6N  | Catalog #: 64-057  - it has some of the same de-oxidizing components inside as the more expensive Caig DeoxIT spray that is 13$ at Amazon -

  Pardon me for assuming lack of knowledge, but its better to assume and instruct than to try to fix what could happen if I don't. That said, the most common goofs I see with people doing this themselves if not familiar with how to do it, is they use the wrong sprays - and usually far too much of it.  If you are using a contact cleaner that leaves no residue, no lubricant - just pure "contact cleaner" - then you can use more than a short puff - but keep in mind the thermal problems and use short blasts and wait between them - so that you don't freeze parts more than a minimum amount.  

If you use a cleaner with any other lubes or chemicals in it, just a small puff or two is plenty - if placed in correctly.  Please do not soak the control with WD-40, while its a great product for many uses - this is not one of them.

That brings me to the other more common mistake in doing this - folks who think they can just pull the knob off and spray the cleaner in from the shaft around the knob from the front panel.  While this can sometimes help - and will lubricate the shaft, it misses the copper or silver contact arms inside the control where the static / noise are being made.  (and often wrecks the plastic on the face plate.) 

As to problems you might see when you open a unit up and try to get good access to the part, sometimes a unit will have several circuit boards, and one may be over the control so that you cant easily see the control or where to put the little plastic straw extension so that you may spray inside correctly.  You really don't want to just blast the chemicals inside and hope they find something good - so use a flashlight and try to look through gaps in the case or remove the mounting screws and gently lift the board up a little bit if you are sure it does not bolt onto other components under it.  Again without seeing a particular unit - only experience can help you make a "judgement call" here on how to get in.  

 When in doubt take it to a shop that deals with such and hope they are not going to do something wrong.  

 this control is sealed - and not easy to lubricate or clean


   If you can see the control - look for an opening on it that will let you spray the cleaner inside - either a opening in the case of the control where the leads come out, a notch in the case that is open on both sides - or just a simple hole in the side of the case. Sometimes its easy to see and other times it may be around under the control and hard to see.  Put the tube extension from the cleaner in against the hole or notch, or just outside the larger gaps where the leads come out it that is open, and give it one quick spray - just a puff.  Be sure you have shaken the cleaner prior to this to mix the contents properly.

 Now "work" the control knob or shaft back and forth several times right after you spray - to help distribute the chemicals. 

 Test the unit after allowing it to dry out a few minutes, and you should see immediate improvements in the scratchy or static sounds from the control. As you continue to use the control over the next few weeks you will usually see continued improvement - as the normal use of the control polishes the copper or silver contacts inside on the control.

   Just a thought to consider, but often, if its not too much trouble to get inside a piece of electronics, I will spray the controls of a new item - as this will help them to stay quiet and working well for many years longer than just leaving them dry from the factory.

  There are several good videos on YouTube that show some of this fairly well - I have a link to one here.

 Please keep in mind that anyone can post videos to YouTube and you may see some that are at least partially incorrect and poor advice.

 As usual, there is no possible way for me to see exactly what you are working on, and therefore my advise is fairly generic.  I can not guarantee that my advice or instructions will be used properly and of course can not be responsible for your work when following my suggestions. These writings are intended to be a help resource and are written to the best of my many years of knowledge and practical experience working on many forms of electronics from portable radios to 100,000 watt radio stations. While I am not the usual garage tinkerer - I do not know everything and without a crystal ball or way to see what you have in front of you - can only hope my words and pictures can make this task a bit easier for you to undertake with more information than you had before you read this. If you can send email with pictures of what you are working on and details about the problem you face, I will try to help with more specific details in return, time permitting. Best wishes!

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