• How to clean electrical connections and contacts

    Dirty electrical connections can lead to component failure and at the very least, degraded performance.

    First I will explain what a "dirty electrical connection" is exactly. A dirty connection is when two or more electrical wires or contacts are not making the proper connection due to dirt or grime buildup. This often occurs in engine bays and outside environments. A dirty connection makes it difficult for electricity to function properly.

    Electricity requires a good solid connections for current to flow. If you suspect that you have a dirty connection, read on for cleaning instructions. Below the picture are two options for cleaning dirty connections.

    *Safety Tip* Always wear protective gloves and goggles when spraying chemical solutions.

    Clean Electrical Connections

    Step 1- Choose the correct cleaner for your needs.

    Go to an auto part or electronics store and look for a contact cleaner aerosol. Read the can before purchasing to see if it will fit your cleaning needs. Some sprays are not good for cleaning circuit cards. Also, do not get contact cleaner confused with brake cleaner, as it is not the same and could damage your electronics.

    Alcohol may be used as an alternative to aerosol cleaners. Get a small to medium size liquid spray bottle and fill it with isopropyl alcohol. Do not mix water into the solution, as water tends to rust most metals.

    Step 2- Apply cleaner to the connection.

    Disconnect the electrical connection and spray a moderate amount of cleaner directly onto the metal pins, bare wires, or into the connector itself. Spray enough onto the connection that you can no longer see any dirt in the solution that drips away. Sometimes you can use an acid brush to wisk away the dirt while spraying.

    Step 3- Allow the connection to dry.

    Always allow sufficient time for the cleaner to evaporate completely before reinstalling the connection. Evaporation usually occurs in approximately 10 to 15 minutes of air drying.

    Step 4- Test the component after cleaning.

    Once you are done cleaning the connection, hook it up back up and try it out to see if it has fixed your problem. If it did not fix the problem and you can clearly see that the pins are dirty looking, then the contacts may be burnt or corroded. This sometimes indicates that you have a bigger problem with electrical shorting or moisture in the connector. At this point you will need to repair or replace the damaged contacts.

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