How to Clean a Potentiometer Switch




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Video tutorial on how to clean a potentiometer switch. Potentiometer switches are found in a variety of applications either in a linear or rotational movement such as audio controls for volume, bass, treble, climate controls, fan speed, or lighting, etc. Normally you will notice some sort of static, distortion, flickering or disruption when adjusting a potentiometer control which indicates that the contacts inside are dirty or damaged. Considering this isn’t a sealed unit, obviously they are exposed to moisture and dust, causing conductivity issues. Here I’ll just demonstrate what this may sound like. If they were too be damaged, this can mean they are either worn from usage, have experiences arching, or contain burnt out spots within the carbon track.

Tools/Supplies Needed:

  • Deoxit D5
  • Deoxit D100L
  • clean cloth
  • safety glasses

Step 1: Remove and Disconnect the Switch

The switch will need to be removed and disconnected from the power source. Sometimes these can be disassembled further, gaining access to the components inside, other times they cannot be.

Step 2:

Here I have two different products made by DeoxIT. Both are from their D series line, a specialty cleaner which is able to clean, lubricate, rejuvenate, deoxidize, fills in any microscopic gaps, and reseals the surface for improved conductivity. Considering I do not have direct access to the contacts within the switch, I will be using the D5 spray.

First we will need to find an opening to the contacts within the switch. Normally it’s best from the side, but this will vary between designs, especially if it’s between a rotational or linear movement. Spray a short burst of the solution into the switch and operate it to help remove the contaminants. Wait a moment, then apply another short burst of spray to wash away the contaminants and provide a form of protection. Wait two minutes, before operation.

If you find there is a severe case of oxidization or corrosion, you may need to leave the switch overnight and then reapply the solution and clean with a lint free cloth or swab.

Step 3: Final Test

Reinstall, then test to ensure the dirty contacts have been cleaned and the distortion has been removed.



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    2 Discussions


    2 years ago

    I have had potentiometers go completely bad on me. I pulled them all apart, and even putting multimeter leads right onto the resistive track I couldn't get a reading on them at all. It happened in a Simpson meter I was restoring. So the pots were like 60 years old. But something had happened to those pots that like petrified them, or something. I cleaned them with alcohol, I scraped them, you name it, they were shot. New pots the resistive element can completely wear away in them too. Well, not brand new, but of newer style construction. But just cleaning pots out can work in a large number of cases. I usually use TV tuner cleaner. Though my can of that is empty now. I don't even know if they still make that stuff anymore? No one has TVs with pots in them these days.

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your experience. Times have definitely changed, sadly most stuff is throw away and replace rather than rebuilding the unit. I did a video tutorial refurbishing the air flow meter for the engine on this car as well, quite a neat unit and much different than compared to what vehicles use now.