Easily the most susceptible component of any pair of headphones is the wires contained within the cable. every move you make can weaken the cables, especially when they are pulled on or snagged on something.
Allowing the headphone cable to twist while storing it is also a sure way to weaken the cables. this is the reason why you will often find that your headphones are not working due to the cable being damaged or even cut off completely.
Reading: How to repair headphone wire at home
hence, I have decided to put together this guide on how to fix frayed or broken headphone cables. so you can store any broken or damaged headphones you may have. and all it takes is some basic DIY skills.
Although there is a very small amount of electricity that passes through the headphone cables to send a signal, it is an extremely low voltage. even high impedance headphones shouldn’t have enough voltage to cause any kind of electrocution.
Even if you accidentally come into contact with a wire with voltage running through it, chances are you won’t even notice it. however, it is still best practice to disconnect any wires or cables before working on them as a matter of habit.
power-on sequence enabled
The main concern anyone should have when working with headphones or small electronic devices is the risk of fire. short circuits are always possible, which can cause sparks. any spark can potentially start a fire or ignite any flammable liquid, gas or vapor.
Short circuits occur when charge flows to an unwanted location, causing rapid overheating. Not only can this be a fire hazard, but it can also cause damage to both the headset and any device it’s connected to.
frayed headphone repair
You may have noticed on a pair of headphones that the cable jacket has been damaged, exposing the wires inside. this is what is known as fraying and can easily cause a short circuit. This is often due to a pet pulling, twisting, rubbing, or even chewing on the cord.
It’s best if you check the headphone cables for signs of wear so you can fix this problem quickly. If not fixed, there is a possibility that the earphones and the device will be damaged or the cable will be completely broken.
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Fortunately, there are some quick and easy fixes for frayed headphone cords that are both affordable and effective. I will include examples and recommendations of any products needed to make these fixes.
The first option is to use electrical tape. a slightly more efficient option is the use of heat shrink tubing. another possible solution is a clever product called sugru, which is a moldable adhesive.
tradegear – multicolored electrical tape
This pack of 10 multicolored insulating tapes from tradegear is perfect for repairing frayed cables. It is made of heavy-duty industrial-grade PVC that is flame retardant and resistant to acids, alkalis, ultraviolet rays, oils, abrasions, and moisture.
Here are the steps to use electrical tape to repair frayed headphone cords.
- Make sure the headphone cables are clean by pouring a small amount of rubbing alcohol on a cloth. Clean the cable carefully around the frayed area and wait for it to dry. this will ensure that the electrical tape adheres much more securely.
- once the cable is prepped, cut a piece of electrical tape and wrap it around the frayed area as tightly as possible. your cable will then be protected and isolated.
pointool – multicolour heat shrink tubing
This pointool heat shrink tubing kit includes various colors and sizes and is great to have on hand. It is the perfect solution for frayed cables due to its speed and ease of use. Made of polyolefin, the material is durable and flexible.
Here are the steps for applying heat shrink tubing to frayed headphone wires.
- Once again, it is important to make sure the area around the frayed cable is clean. use the same method by carefully wiping the area with a little rubbing alcohol on a clean cloth and let it dry.
- Next, select a heat shrink that matches the color and size. the tube should slide along the cable without resistance, but should not be too loose either.
- carefully insert the tube along the headphone cable until it covers the frayed area. some tubes have a slit and can be rolled up. if this is the case, make sure it is well wrapped.
- finally, a heat source must be applied to shrink the tube. a heat gun is the most efficient, but you can also use a lighter or even a hair dryer. but make sure you don’t apply heat for too long and melt the tube.
sugru – mouldable multicolor glue
This amazing product called sugru is what is known as moldable glue. It can be glued and molded to items and then it will harden into the silicone rubber. a perfect solution to repair frayed headphone cables.
here are the steps to apply sugru to frayed headphone wires.
- That’s right. you guessed it The first step is to carefully clean the frayed area of the headphone cable. wipe the area with a clean cloth and some rubbing alcohol and let it dry.
- open a packet of sugru and apply it to the frayed area. it can be shaped and molded like modeling clay. you have about 30 minutes to give it the desired finish before it begins to harden.
- For best results, allow 24 hours for the sugru to set permanently.
fixing cables that have completely broken
Sometimes headphone cables can snap completely in half. however, don’t worry; All is not lost because, with a careful set of fingers, the right tools, and a little patience, it is possible to repair broken cables. after all, this is a guide on how to fix frayed or broken headphone cables.
I’ll start by introducing you to the tools you need to repair broken headphone cables or wires. most of them you already have at home, but I will also include an example of products that I personally recommend to complete this task.
irwin – cable stripping and cutting tool
This handy tool from irwin is a great one to have in your toolbox. it can strip wire between 10-22 awg and is also a sharp cutting tool. plus it can even cut studs leaving a perfect thread along with crimping both insulated and non-insulated terminals.
bic – classic lighter
Any lighter will work, but you can’t get past the classic bic lighter. It features kid-resistance and is also one of the most reliable lighters ever made. You should always store a lighter in a safe place out of the reach of children.
insulating tape and heat shrink tubing
It is best to use a combination of electrical tape and heat shrink tubing when repairing broken wires or cables. however, it is possible to use only electrical tape. I have included the same examples and recommendations for repairing frayed cables.
put the tools to use
Now that you have everything you need to fix a broken headphone cable, it’s time to get started. Here are the steps to perform your own repair.
- Using the wire stripper, first remove the outer layer of the wire exposing the individual colored wires.
- Make a clean cut on the end of each of the colored wires.
- strip the coating around each colored wire leaving approximately 1.25 inches (3 centimeters) of wire exposed.
- each wire will have a thin layer of enamel. this can be melted using the lighter, which just needs to be held over the wire for less than a second.
- twist each of the colored wires using electrical tape to cover each individual connection each time. this is where colored electrical tape comes in handy.
- once each of the individual wires has been twisted and taped, slide them over heat shrink tubing or wrap more electrical tape around them. if using heat shrink tubing, don’t forget to use the lighter again to finish the process.
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Also, don’t miss our handy guides on how to fix a loose headphone jack, how to fix headphones when only one side works, and how to remove a broken headphone jack for more useful information.
how to fix frayed or broken headphone cords: final thoughts
Hopefully this guide has helped you repair an item that would otherwise have been thrown away and replaced. Often all it takes is some very basic tools, a bit of knowledge, along with patience and a bit of confidence.
Unfortunately, not all DIY projects are always successful and may require a professional repair or replacement. Even if this is the result, it’s great to learn some new skills along the way that might come in handy down the road. Prevention is always better than cure, so always be on the lookout for any damage and repair it immediately.
Until next time, happy to hear.