Intro: Fix a Frayed IPhone Cable With Adhesive-Lined Heat-Shrink Tubing
I found the regular shink tubing started to stretch and eventually started slipping on the power cord. I realized the shrink tubing should have been the heat-activated ADHESIVE-LINED type that I mention at the end of the first section in Step 1 (I used 1/4" ... or maybe 3/8" ... wasn't paying close attention ... single walled adhesive-lined tubing https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01C8HSRBQ/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 but there's also a dual-walled type if you want to research this option). So I did a do-over with the original cable and added a piece of metal (I cut a piece of a paper clip) to give some sturdiness where the cable meets the connector. See the updated pics using the RED tubing. I bought a mix of heat-shrink tubing and chose the size that slides over the lightening connector the easiest; it could have been either the 1/4" or 3/8" diameter--I wasn't paying particular attention, but it fit the connector--the largest part--with enough room to slide the tubing over it. The shrink ratio can be 2:1 or 3:1. As long as it's adhesive-lined it won't matter if it's either ratio because the glue will fuse the tubing to the cable regardless.
I applied this cool fix to my iPhone charger cable. Because of the small lightening connector the 2:1 heat-shrink tubing slipped on easily.
If your cable has a connector that's too large for the heat-shrink tubing, try using tubing with a 3:1 ratio (shrinks to 1/3 of the tube's original diameter).
Failing that, try experimenting with cutting the tube length-wise and then wrapping it around the connector & cable before heating it. The tubing should shrink up fine and even though there's a seam, you won't need the waterproofing feature for the purpose you're using it. On top of that, when you've shrunk the first tube with the seam you could then use a larger diameter tube that may have initially been too big to work.
Step 1: Gather Materials & Tools
- Heat-shrink tubing available in electrical section of hardware store or electrical supply store
- 2:1 shrink ratio is what I used (shrinks to 1/2 the original diameter of the unheated tubing. I bought mine from Lowe's. 3:1 tubing is also readily available. You may even find other ratios.
- Find a diameter (I used either 1/4" or 3/8"--don't know measurement for sure), length and thickness (of the material itself) that's suitable for your cable and how you treat your cable: The rougher you are when disconnecting the cable, the thicker the tubing material (vs. diameter) ought to be. There's the double-walled type as well.
- Along with the tubing shrinking tight to the cable, a lot of tubing has heat-activated glue/gel on the inside. The glue will add extra staying power to the fix.
- Heating tool: Heat gun, crafter's heat gun, torch, or something to heat the tubing
- I wanted to test the fix using a hairdryer because that's what most people have easy access to at home.
- I got impatient and quit before I determined if it could eventually be done.
- I'm not sure using the hairdryer would have gotten the tubing hot enough, but it did start to shrink the tubing somewhat.
- I gave up because I had my heat gun handy and wanted to get on with the fix.
- The tubing began to shrink as soon as I switched to the heat gun!
- I read/saw where someone used a lighter to shrink the tubing; it will likely be OK if you are careful to avoid melting the tubing and your cable. You merely want to heat the tubing enough to get it to shrink around the cable (you will still need to shrink from the middle out to the ends). I'm not specifically recommending this method, but many tradesmen/electricians use it so as long as you're careful it should be OK. Proviso: Try it at your own risk (this is also a CYA).
- Scissors: You may need to cut the tubing if it's really long
- I went with longer rather than shorter tubing
Step 2: Place Tubing Over Cable & Connector
- Carefully trim any obviously loose and dangling rubber/outer sheathing to minimize bulkiness of the finished fix.
- Leave as much of the braided metal sheathing uncut and in place as you can. This layer of sheathing is an important component and is necessary for proper functioning of the cable.
- Re-secure as much of this as you can.
- If you can leave frayed outer sheathing in place without it getting in the way when you're shrinking the tubing, no need to trim it.
- I had to trim some of the outer sheathing and was able to leave some.
- I left the braided metal sheathing alone.
- Slide the heat shrink tubing over the cable and the connector so that the tubing extends to the left and right as far as practical beyond the frayed area.
- If you are rough with your cables and want extra insurance, try using multiple tubes nested inside each other to doubly or triply reinforce the fix. If you do,
- Heat-shrink one tube at a time, only placing the next tube over the previous one after it has cooled.
Step 3: Heat the Tubing
- CAUTION: The tubing and heating tool will be HOT so take care. Maybe even wear gloves that protect your hands from heat.
- If the tubing is really loose, lightly pre-heat tubing to begin the shrinking process.
- Position the tubing exactly where you want it to be making sure the tubing surrounds the housing of the lightening connector right up to the edge.
- If your housing is anything like mine, it has at least one crack in it.
- I made sure the tubing completely covered the crack in the housing so the entire area would be reinforced.
- If your tubing ends up overlapping the edge of the housing, I guess you could always trim it away afterwards with a sharp blade to remove any overhang. Just make sure the glue does not get onto the metal part of the connector.
- Now you've got the tubing in place, go back over it, heating from the MIDDLE OUTWARDS doing the ENDS LAST.
- Make sure you've got a firm grip of the tubing that's covering the cable end--at least until the tubing is secure against the cable.
- Taking care not to fry anything, make sure you give the two ends a decent go--especially the end you're going to be yanking on--so both of them are well sealed.
- Allow the tubing to cool completely before handling it! It's not only safer, but you'll allow the glue inside the tubing to set up, ensuring a stronger bond between the tubing and the cable. I read a review where the user said they had used a lighter. I'm not recommending this method, but if you do be careful when handling the tubing because it gets pretty hot and you especially don't want your skin to come in contact with the molten glue.
Step 4: Finished Instructable!
Voila! Fixed! Here's what the heat shrink tubing looks like when it's nice and tight against the cable and connector.
I've now been using the fixed cable for the past month. The bond is still secure and tight--and that's with plugging and plugging it at least twice a day.
To avoid having to do this fix again anytime soon, when I'm unplugging the cable I pinch the connector firmly between my pointer/index finger and thumb rather than yanking it out. But then, I've just about always used this method and the sheathing STILL frayed on my newer cables (older cables have been OK so I'm thinking Apple is using thinner material for the sheathing). I bet this cable won't fray anytime soon now I've got my fix on it!
Better yet, I may simply go ahead and install the heat-shrink tubing on the cable from the get-go and not have to worry about it ever again.