how to repair broken usb port on a laptop
Have you ever wonder how you can replace a broken USB port on your laptop or notebook?
In this article, I will show how to easily remove the broken USB port or socket from a notebook / laptop motherboard by unsoldering it from the PCB (printer circuit board). Please note that there is a disassembly process that is required so that the USB port can be removed from the circuit board. This same technique can work just as well with removing most multiple-pin component such as dc power jack, audio port, video port and other components in an electronic circuit board.
But first, what is a USB? It stands for Universal Serial Bus, which is an industry standard for short distance digital communication between two devices.
It can also be a source of power for some electronic gadgets. Although there are different types of USB ports, but the most common are the USB-A and USB-B types. The USB type A are usually seen in computers, especially desktops and laptops. They serve as the host connector. While the USB type B are commonly seen in printers, scanners and other peripherals. (Please see drawing taken from www.thebestsolver.com )
The USB port that I am talking here is the USB type A, as it gets mostly damaged due to reckless use. Users may accidentally pull an attached cord or gadget on the USB port that the port or socket can no longer function normally. The only best recourse is to physically replace with a new one. Although, there are few situations when users carelessly pulled or yanked any USB device that is attached to it therefore the pins get bent, but luckily it can easily be fixed, simply by realigning the twisted or bent USB pins. But for most cases, a desoldering approach is needed to permanently fix it.
If you think you can perform a solder and desolder of an electronic component, then the following video tutorial can help you finish the job quickly.
The most common way to remove an electronic component from a circuit board is by using a soldering iron or gun, and with the aid of a lead-suction tool, to remove the soldered-lead on the terminals before pulling out the component. This method is ideal to remove components that have fewer terminals such as a resistor, capacitor, transistors and others. But for multi-pin components, especially those that have fine terminals, more often the soldering iron can be a bit of a compromise. Some multi-pin components have narrow gaps between its terminals and that it requires a thinner soldering tip to squeeze in to those narrow paths. Therefore, you may need to buy a smaller tip so that you can remove the solder effectively.
The technique that I am showing is by using a heat-gun to melt the solder lead quick so that it is easier to pry the component out of the circuit board. I have been using this technique in most of the motherboards I have repaired. I can attest that it is the easiest and creates a clean desolder result.
So, let’s start with the things that you may need to aid with the heat gun. The following are: flux solder paste, suction tool, solder wire (lead) and aluminum adhesive tape. The purpose of the flux is so that the old solder-lead will easily melt with heat, and causes it to be easily removed by the lead-suction tool. The new solder lead is needed to fill those hard-to-get old solder lead; and last but no least, the aluminum tape is needed to protect any adjacent components, especially those in close proximity to the component to be removed, as in this case – the USB port. Make sure NOT to cover the terminals of the USB port with the aluminum tape.
Place the PCB (printed circuit board) upside down and position the heatgun at about an inch or two just above the soldered terminals of the USB port. Set the heat gun to low heat. Using a flat-heat screwdriver, squeeze it into a narrow gap between the base of the USB port and the surface of the PCB. Using moderate force, pry the USB port while heating the terminals. NOTE: DO NOT overheat the area of the terminals. The solder will eventually melt with heat, so apply heat in moderation. Once the USB port gets loose while you pry it, continue applying heat until it is fully detach from the circuit board. And in a quick fashion, while the area is still hot, use the lead-suction tool to clean the excess solder-lead on the terminals. Also, a short warning. DO NOT TOUCH the surface with your bare hands to avoid injuries. Use a plier and gloves (cloth) as necessary.
If you decide to replace with a new USB port, then I can recommend checking with Digi-Key, Mouser Electronics or Allied Electronics. These are few of the big and reliable electronic parts suppliers in the US. I would highly recommend if you can take a clear photo of the actual USB port so that you can send to these suppliers for them to match correctly. When ordering from these suppliers through their online stores, you may need to create a free account first before you can purchase the item. In my experience, I always chat with their online representative and they are very helpful with any quantity or order. Sometimes I send them an attached photo via email to their technical representative then they will immediately reply with pricing. If for some reason you can not source from the suppliers I mentioned above, then I can recommend eBay. Or better yet, if you can get hold of a broken motherboard that may have similar USB port that looks still fresh then go for it so as to save you some time and money. If you decide to salvage parts from another motherboard, then you may need to use a multi-tester to do continuity test and make sure the port is still good.