What’s desoldering?

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Desoldering is the process of removing solder to separate electrical components. It requires a desoldering pump, wick, or solder braid and a 15 to 30 watt soldering iron. The preparation is the same regardless of the tool used. A good desoldering job should remove all old solder. Resoldering must be done carefully.

Desoldering describes the process of removing solder to separate electrical components. Someone may need to desolder to replace a component or some wires, or just to remove excess solder from a joint. Desoldering requires a desoldering pump, sometimes called a “solder sucker”, or a wick or solder braid.

To desolder a joint, a person must use a soldering iron and one of the desoldering tools. The soldering iron melts the solder so it can be easily removed from the circuit board. A 15 to 30 watt soldering iron is usually best for electronics and circuit boards. However, soldering guns should not be used as they could damage printed circuit boards and electrical components.

The preparation for desoldering is the same regardless of the tool used. The soldering iron must be heated to approximately 770°F (approximately 400°C) to desolder the electrical components. Its tip should be tinned, i.e. covered with fresh solder and then dried with a wet sponge.

The hot soldering iron is held over the joint long enough to melt the solder if a desoldering pump is used. The pump is primed or primed by pushing the plunger down. It is then held against the joint with the molten solder, and when the trigger is pulled, the pump sucks up the solder. If the pump doesn’t remove all of the solder the first time around, sometimes you need to add new molten solder to the joint to loosen the old solder so it will pull apart with the new one.

In one method of using a solder wick or braid, the soldering iron may be used to heat the joint as with a solder cup, then the wick is inserted into the molten solder. Capillary action sucks the solder into the wick material. Alternatively, the solder wick can be placed against the unheated joint, then the soldering iron is pressed against the wick and the solder is drawn from the wick material as it melts. This method generally works best for small joints. For both methods, the wick used is cut off after it has been filled with solder.

A good desoldering job should remove all of the old solder so that the component can be replaced or the joint can be re-soldered. After the solder has been removed, a component may fall off easily or you may need some light help from a pair of pliers. Resoldering must be done carefully to avoid the need to desolder again.

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