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Whether you have the best keyboard on the market or a budget model, keyboards are intricate devices made of a network of delicate parts. Mechanical switches are sensors that allow you to interface with your computer, making them a critical keyboard component. As with all sensitive parts, they sometimes fail, leaving you to figure out how to remove the switches from your keyboard without damaging them so that you can replace them.
If this sounds like you, keep reading as we walk you through how to remove a mechanical keyboard switch. And because there are multiple steps to this process, some of which are beyond the scope of this article, check out our other articles if you need additional resources. For example, we have a great info guide on how to remove keyboard keys.
When working with soldering and solder, locate yourself in a well-ventilated area and wear eye and hand protection.
There are two ways to remove a switch on a mechanical keyboard. The first way is through what’s called “hot-swappable keyboard switches.” These switches are designed for easy removal and replacement if you have the right tools.
The second way is through soldering. If you don’t know how to solder a keyboard, you’d be wise to study and practice before getting started. Soldering is a task that requires skill, and making a mistake can permanently ruin a keyboard’s circuits.
After consulting your keyboard’s user manual to determine if your switch types are hot-swappable or soldered, you can begin going through the steps in the correct guide below.
Place the keycap puller over the key and remove each keycap for the switches you are replacing.
Place the switch puller over the top and bottom edges of the switch. Then, gently wiggle each hot-swappable switch out of place while pulling up on them.
Repeat the previous steps until each switch is removed.
Unscrew and remove the housing of your keyboard until you can access the circuit board.
Heat the soldering iron to around 350 degrees.
Locate the correct switch pins and touch your heated soldering iron to them for a few seconds each. As the solder from the switch pins becomes liquid, remove it with the solder sucker.
Once you see that you’ve removed most of the solder, remove the switch and set it aside.
Don’t attempt to pull out your mechanical keyboard switches until you are 100% that they are hot-swappable; otherwise, this mistake can cause irreparable damage.
Repeat steps 1-4 until each switch is removed, making sure to keep your soldering iron clean throughout the process.
STAT: A mechanical keyboard switch, on average, lasts around 10-15 years. (source)
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