Introduction: Fixing Non Working Buttons of Any Remote Control

Picture of Fixing Non Working Buttons of Any Remote Control

Remote control buttons have a conductive thin layer beneath. As time goes by this layer may get damaged because of friction and loose conductivity. As a result, although the batteries are full and you apply great pressures on the button they do not function. Annoying, isn't it?

Most of the people prefer to buy a new replica device as they are much more cheaper than the original ones. But there is very easy way to save your non-working original remote control.

Here is how:

Step 1: Open Up the Remote Control

Picture of Open Up the Remote Control

Most of the remote controls have a screw inside the battery cover. Unscrew it and then separate the two halves of the control (the top and bottom plastic parts) gently. Be careful not to crack any plastic parts.

In general the remote control devices have 3 main parts:

1. Plastic covers (bottom and top)

2. Circuit board

3. Uni-body rubber buttons

Step 2: Clean the Circuit Board and the Rubber Buttons

Picture of Clean the Circuit Board and the Rubber Buttons

The best way to clean circuit board and the rubber buttons is cotton + alcohol. Never use water.

After cleaning both the circuit board and rubber buttons you should check if the buttons are working before proceeding. The reason is; cleaning the circuit board and rubber buttons most of the time solve the issue.

If it's working. Welldone! :) I strongly advise you to clean your remote control periodically. (Especially for the ones used in dining room)

If the problem persist, don't worry. We will get over it. Follow the next steps.

Step 3: Fix the Non-working Buttons

Picture of Fix the Non-working Buttons

All you need is some cyanoacrylate (super glue), aluminium foil, scissors and tweezers.

First cut very little pieces of aluminium foil that will exactly fit the size of the rubber button's conductive area. This foil is going to act as a conductor and when you press the button it will close the circuit.

When you're ready, drop a tiny amount of glue on the back of the rubber buttons that are not working and place the aluminium foils that you have prepared. Gently apply pressure on the foil with the tweezers but avoid sliping or damaging the foil.

Step 4: Final Check...

Picture of Final Check...

If you do follow the instructions and no other problem exists, you have a perfect working remote control again. :)



Anthony. (author)2016-09-20

That's weird...i found the one screw and removed it and still cant separate the remote...fear of breaking it, and lose the few buttons that still work. Its a Coby remote.

makerturker (author)Anthony.2016-09-20

Dear Anthony, you have to be patient and gentle not to crack any parts. Using a thin screwdriver to seperate the remote control works most of the time. One more suggestion, if there is any sticker behind the remote control try removing it because sometimes they hide some more screws below the stickers.

finton (author)2016-07-16

The foil idea definitely works: I have used it to fix our TV remote volume buttons. The only problem is that I have not been able to get the foil to stay stuck on.

I've used both superglue and UHU with the same results. I have a feeling that this is possibly because our foil is "non-stick" as I realised today. Ordinary foil may be better

Having seen Antzy Carmasaic's comment below (and then DabeAltis's), I've just applied a dab of UHU to each button's pad and sprinkled powdered pencil graphite over them while the glue was still wet. I then tamped the powder into the glue with the graphite end of the pencil. Experimentation proved that one needs to carefully remove all the powder from everywhere except the pads (using acetone or isopropyl alcohol rather than water).

The remote now works perfectly again. We'll see how long it lasts...

DabeAltis (author)2016-01-14

There is a much easier trick I discovered many years ago and it works flawlessly almost 100% of the time. After cleaning the conductive pads and mating circuit with alcohol and Q-tips, simply apply a coat of graphite to the conductive face of the pads by using an ordinary #2 pencil. A small piece of fine sandpaper is handy to help powder the graphite. It should make a shiny coating on the pad, and it conducts better than the pads did when they were new. Try it, if done correctly you will never go back to any of these other methods.

Albertv3 (author)DabeAltis2016-01-17

Hi again. I tried to find your ordinary #2 pencil. It gave no clue. What exactly do I need to look for or what does it mean anyhow. Thanks for your time and explanation.

DabeAltis (author)Albertv32016-01-17

Hi Albertv3, The #2 is a designation of the hardness of the graphite rod in the pencil, what we in the US call pencil lead although it's not really lead. In truth, probably any graphite pencil will work, or even the carbon rod from from an old carbon-zinc battery. Do not confuse this with a charcoal pencil which is not nearly as conductive and probably would make things worse! Hope this helps.

RULONVENCES (author)DabeAltis2016-01-15

Yes you are right I use the same trick and is very good almost like new

RULONVENCES (author)DabeAltis2016-01-15

Yes you are right I use the same trick and is very good almost like new

Albertv3 (author)2016-01-14

Sadly Alu folie most times doesn't stay glued on the rubber moving knobs. So better way is to buy and use silverglue. Much Better but quite expensive ! Graphite and other solutions are no good !! It is only a temporary fix.

DabeAltis (author)Albertv32016-01-14

Actually, graphite properly applied will work much better and longer than any of these other solutions, including conductive silverglue. You don't need need glue, just apply the powdered graphite to the face of the conductive pad. It works, and it works well, and it lasts. I have repaired lots of remotes and other keypads in this way for many years. People often comment that they work better than they did when they were new.

Albertv3 (author)DabeAltis2016-01-15

I hear you but I have tried Graphite before. Thats why I question your good results. Since the Graphite I had used was very wet and smudgy and never became Solid! Only Silverglue gets very solid and sticks also perfectly on the always moving rubber pads. Silverglue was also used in cars to repair the broken conductive strips on window heating foil. And is capable to withstand High currents. Only drawback of Superglue is that it takes some drying time before the Silver 'wires' are solid and conductive enough to carry larger currents.

DabeAltis (author)Albertv32016-01-16

Albertv3, you can argue with results, but the proof is in the pudding! If the "graphite" you are using is wet, I don't know what you are trying to use? You should be using a dry powder or a common pencil with a piece of fine sandpaper. There is no drying or solidifying. The currents involved in these contacts are extremely small and do not require a low resistance, they just need to reliably provide a conductive path. The "high current" capability, while being extremely handy in certain applications, is totally unrelated to this application. The conductive rubber pads are still conductive, it's just that the contacting surface sometimes becomes less conductive due to use or contamination. The graphite simply restores this lost surface conductivity to allow the pad to do what it was designed to do, and usually does so more effectively and reliably than when they were new.

Albertv3 (author)DabeAltis2016-01-16

I know that Silverglue is too good for the quality and ohmic value needed here, but since I didn't find the right graphite material nor do I understand the sandpaper story, I only tried it the silverglue way. What Graphite do you use and can I obtain it also in The Netherlands easily? And how does it enforce the rubber conductive pads without loosing its graphite material in time while in use if it doesn't get hard or when it is just nothing more then Graphite powder?

DabeAltis (author)Albertv32016-01-16

Hello again Albertv3, I apologize if I'm not understanding your question correctly, but I'll try to explain as best I can. If you scroll down you will find my original post where I explain the process. The sandpaper is just used to rub the point of the pencil on to help free up, or powder the graphite. Once I have a tiny little pile of powdered graphite, I get a bit of it on the flattened tip and rub it onto the conductive rubber pad. Powdered graphite is an excellent dry lubricant and seems to have its own adhesive quality although it can easily be washed off. I'm not sure of the composition of the conductive pads, but I believe they are a silicone based binder with a conductive powder (quite possibly graphite) blended in to make it conductive. Not unlike the powdered metal in your silverglue. The silicone itself is a quite effective insulator, so if the surface loses its conductive additive the pad ceases to function as it should. Incidentally, if it is indeed silicone based, then most glues will not adhere well to it. The only glue I've found to be effective on silicone rubber is silicone RTV (room temperature vulcanizing) rubber. But, as I stated previously, you don't need glue. The graphite stays in place quite nicely on its own. I hope this helps to clarify previous comments. :-)

Omnivent (author)2016-01-14

Before adding foreign matter into a remote, please do check if it's really needed. I have repaired lots of remotes and always by a thorough cleaning of the conductive rubber with IPA and the same on the contact pads/traces that the rubber bridges. In severe cases I have had to clean the contact traces with a glass pencil, but use this only as a last resort, as the gold flashing is very thin (a few micron) and easy to hurt. If this don't bring joy to your remote, carefully rub the rubber pads with emery paper of 400-800 grit.

The pads "fused" to the silicone mat is usually easy to see and the entire block is conductive rubber. You don't need zero-Ohm contact in a remote, as the contact currents are extremely small.

The only type of remotes that might need more work, is those few where a thin flash of some metal is used and then only when it's completely ruined/gone.

Something else that may fail in a remote (some people drop remotes on their floor like they were paid to do so), is a broken off resonator (or sometimes a capacitor).

For opening the "clicked-together" types, a set of automotive feeler gauges has got just the right thickness for any plastic case :)

DabeAltis (author)Omnivent2016-01-16

I agree that sometimes cleaning is all that is required, but they quite often require more. Your approach of exposing new material on the conducive rubber pad by using emery paper sounds like solid advise and may work as well. In my opinion though, this is a more drastic measure than simply treating the surface with graphite which has proven to work very well. I would never recommend using any type of abrasive (glass pen) on the gold plating. As you stated, it is very thin. If cleaning the traces does not suffice, then the problem is elsewhere.

AndersJ3 (author)2016-01-15

To check if the remote works and it got an IR led, just use a digital camera, like in many telephones. Start the camera, aim the remote to the camera and press. If it flashes, it works!
Really easy check.

JamesS119 (author)2016-01-14

I had tried this method of gluing the aluminum to the black button and found it fails too often. I resolved this by slicing the black part off and scavenge a good one from another device (not in use but black buds were new and had that waffle texture) slice that off and using a whole punch that matched the diameter of the original one. After making sure all sizes match it cemented the new piece with a dab of RTV. Then after letting that set it works like new.

Albany1277 (author)2016-01-14

All mine needed was a good cleaning with q tips and alcohol. Thanks!

rch (author)2016-01-14

I just used this stuff I bought from Amazon for $5 and it worked fantastically for me.

It has enough material to probably fix a thousand remotes. So far, I have used it to refurbish 2 remotes and they work as well as they did when new.

I also saw the procedure to use tinfoil like the author did, but went with the Keypad Fix solution because it seemed easier to me. The key to using this stuff is of cleanliness, and letting it sit overnight before reassembly and use.

mouse23 (author)2016-01-14

A previous added tip was mentioning a hole punch. I used the kind with pliers handles and selectable whole sizes, bought at HF for around six bucks. The material I used was aluminum foil with sticky backing which I already had. The technique for making this sticky conductive confetti is as follows. Put a piece of electrical tape on the anvil part of the punch and squeeze the punch. Pull the tape off , leaving the little round piece in center on the punch. Then punch a bunch of holes in the aluminum foil. Here is the trick. Don't squeeze too hard. That way the little pieces don't go into the waste pocket of the punch, They still hang on the rest of the foil where you can separate the foil from the backing with a razor blade. Then pull the piece off with tweezers and place on remote button.

Jack of Most Trades (author)2016-01-14

We had a grafix gennie at work that had plugs of foam and metal foil discs on the back of the keys. The foam decomposed. I cut new plugs of foam and foil and used double-sticky tape to assemble.

All 108 buttons...

Great tips!

DDW_OR (author)2016-01-14

most of the time it is the oil from your hand that degrades the conductive contacts.

what i have done is wrap the new remote in a single layer of kitchen plastic wrap.

yes it looks ugly, but it works.

Dragonothe (author)2016-01-14

Thank you! Saved us a pricey replacement car remote.

smokeysam (author)2016-01-14

Excellent. Also works for your car remote. Can save more than $100.00 on new key fob.

Mark AJA (author)smokeysam2016-01-14

Car remote controls are coded so someone else with a remote control for his car can't use it on your car.

If you take out the battery, you will lose the code and you will need your garage to recode it.

At least that's what my garage told me.

Some car makes may have the code stored on EPROM, but not all car makes.

shedly1 (author)smokeysam2016-01-14

Most key fobs can be had for less than $10 on Amazon.

ArasinS (author)2016-01-14

Another option for cleaning contacts is a pencil eraser. I was taught during military technical training to use them to clean electrical contacts. Make sure to blow the particles out of the case and into the trash.

If the problem really is your batteries, try removing them and briskly whacking them together side-against-side. Sometimes it will gain you a day to buy new ones or to 'refill' a set of rechargeables.

SteveSi (author)2016-01-14

To prise open plastic cases without causing damage, use an ABS guitar plectrum.

User1 (author)2016-01-14

Thanks for the tip! I have a bunch of remotes just sitting around. I'm going to figure out which is not needed and start taking the thing apart. This will give me a good feel of what to expect when needed.

daytona675 (author)2016-01-14

A few observations:

1- my Panasonic remote had no screw but came apart with judicious use of a steel 6" ruler along the sides- it has a series of internal tabs

2- many buttons not working but not all.....turned out corrosion on a capacitor on the reverse of the board was not allowing enough current to flow for some commands

3- I wonder about using conductive paint for repairs to PCB or button pads?

Great Instructable - inspired me to deconstruct my remote and fix it rather than buying a new one!!!

bulbs2010 (author)2016-01-14


dpagan12 (author)2016-01-14

I use a small hole punch for the al pieces

b2gills (author)2016-01-14

I just fixed a remote this morning by doing that very same thing. The main difference is this time I used E6000 on the hope the fix will last longer than using super glue. I also use a small hole punch with the foil between 2 pieces of paper, which results in a much nicer repair overall.

der_fisherman (author)2016-01-14

Good simple and easy fix. The perfect "Instructable!"

Many thanks.

Dgidgi (author)2016-01-14

Thanks a million, it works very well and solved my problem!!!

shyrell (author)2016-01-14

An alcohol wipe will work even better. Sometimes the cotton fibers can snag. For hard places, wrap the wipe around a q-tip. Remember to wipe gently. Great idea about the foil!

mattcintosh (author)2016-01-14

I've fixed a lot by cleaning the inside (lots of people spill stuff in them), but never tried the foil trick. The hardest part is getting the dang things apart. There are so many hidden clips in them that you will end up breaking a few

edconltd (author)2016-01-14

I like this idea a great deal. I'm an electronic hoarder and have a pile of remotes. I can check if I can fix them and save a buck or two. Keeps them out of the land fill. for a wh

tong talusan (author)2016-01-13

Very clever idea. Good job!

lesuhan (author)2016-01-12

Good ideal, will try this....

mrmetallica (author)2016-01-12

great idea just what i suffer with .hole punch for trouser belts would be good for this get nice round shape

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2016-01-10

Great life hack.

Thank you

Antzy Carmasaic (author)2016-01-10

I just bought a replacement remote. But after I bought it, I
got thinking and came up with the exact same idea of using aluminium foil! So surprised to see the same technique in your instructable. Though it might cause a bit of wear off of the PCB traces due to friction, but better to make a dead remote work an extra year than throw it away.
Another method I thought was to powder pencil graphite, mix a lot of it with white glue and apply to the rubber pads. This might not work or gum will wear out over time, but worth a try...

Thanks for the detailed review.

Dipankar (author)2016-01-11

Very good idea............Thanks.

makerturker (author)Dipankar2016-01-12

Thank you

Delphinidae (author)2016-01-12

Great .... Thank You !

makerturker (author)Delphinidae2016-01-12


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