Understanding How a Tape Measure Works
Have you ever had a tape measure that no longer retracts? It can be frustrating, but fortunately, fixing this issue is simple once you understand how a tape measure works. A tape measure mainly consists of two parts, the tape itself and the spring that’s responsible for retracting it. When you pull the tape out, the spring stores energy and when you release the tape, the spring forces it to retract back into the housing.
However, sometimes the tape can get stuck, preventing the spring from pulling it back in. In this guide, we will go through some solutions to fix a tape measure that won’t retract.
First, let’s talk about some common reasons why a tape measure won’t retract. Dirt and debris can easily get inside the housing and the mechanism responsible for retracting the tape. It can prevent the spring from working correctly and cause the tape to stop retracting.
Another common issue is a bent tape. If you accidentally bend the tape, it can interfere with the spring and make it hard to retract. Lastly, sometimes the spring can lose its elasticity over time, resulting in a tape that doesn’t retract with the same force as before.
Now that we know why a tape measure might not retract let’s move on to some solutions.
Diagnosing the problem with a non-retracting tape measure
Having a tape measure that refuses to retract can be frustrating, to say the least. If your tape measure is stuck or won’t retract properly, don’t worry, you’re not alone. There could be several reasons why your tape measure won’t retract. Here are some of the most common issues and how to diagnose them:
- Obstruction in the case:
The first thing to look for when diagnosing a non-retracting tape measure is an obstruction inside the case. Take a closer look at the tape measure and check if there’s any debris or dust inside the case that could be preventing the tape from retracting. If the tape is blocked by something, use a pair of tweezers or a pair of needle-nose pliers to remove it carefully. Be cautious when using metal tools to avoid damaging the tape measure or injuring yourself.
- Dirty or worn tape:
If your tape measure is dirty or worn, it can prevent it from retracting smoothly. Try cleaning the tape with a damp cloth and see if this solves the problem. If the tape is heavily worn or damaged, it may need replacing.
If cleaning the tape or removing an obstruction in the case doesn’t work, the issue could be related to the spring inside the tape measure. The spring is responsible for retracting the tape and if it’s damaged, worn or dirty, it won’t function properly. Here’s how to diagnose if the problem is with the spring:
- Broken or weak spring:
If the tape measure continues to stick, the issue could be related to a broken or weak spring. Roll out the tape measure and gently press the lock button to keep it in place. Carefully let go of the tape and see if it retracts into the case on its own. If it does, but then gets stuck again, or retracts more slowly than it should, the spring may be damaged or worn.
If you suspect that the spring inside the tape measure is the issue, the best course of action is to disassemble the tape measure completely and replace the spring. Depending on the complexity of the tape measure, this may be a complex process that requires specific tools. Alternatively, you can consider taking your tape measure into a professional repair service to have it fixed.
In summary, there are several reasons why a tape measure may fail to retract, from an obstruction in the case to a dirty or worn tape or a damaged spring. By diagnosing the issue, you can work towards a solution and have your tape measure up and running again in no time!
Applying Lubrication to the Tape Measure
If your tape measure is not retracting properly, lubrication might be the solution to your problem. To make the tape measure slide in and out easily, you should apply lubrication to the necessary parts. Some tape measures come pre-lubricated, but over time, the lubrication will wear off and it can lead to a sticky tape measure. To remedy this issue, gather the following materials: a can of WD-40 or silicone spray lubricant and a clean rag or cloth. Do not use an oil-based lubricant as it attracts dirt and dust, which can make the situation worse.
First, fully extend the tape and wipe it with a cloth to remove any debris or dust. Dust and debris can be the cause of a sticky tape measure. Make sure you also clean the inside of the tape measure casing and the tape’s surface. When applying lubricant, focus on the metallic part where the tape rubs. A small amount of lubricant should be applied to the metallic tape edge, and it should be spread along the full length of the tape. When applying, be careful not to spray any of it onto your hands, as it can be messy and difficult to remove.
After applying lubricant, extend and retract the tape measure a few times to distribute the lubricant evenly. It is crucial to ensure that the lubricant is spread evenly throughout the tape, as this will help to maintain the tape’s functionality.
Another part that requires lubrication is the locking mechanism. The locking mechanism should be lubricated regularly to ensure that it remains smooth and in good working order. Spray a small amount of lubricant onto the locking device and spread it with your finger or a cloth. Gently press down on the locking mechanism to ensure that the lubricant reaches all parts. Test the lock to ensure that it works properly and doesn’t slip.
If your tape measure requires a larger amount of lubrication, complete the following. First, disassemble the cassette and get rid of dirt and debris that may have accumulated. To remove the dirt, use a brush or cloth. If you need to apply lubrication to various components, use a soft brush to spread it evenly, avoiding excess. After applying lubricant to all parts of the tape measure, reassemble and test to ensure that the tape measure works smoothly. Although lubrication should not completely replace maintenance of your tape measure, it should improve the speed and ease of extending the tape measure.
Applying lubrication to a tape measure is one of the easiest ways to maintain it and keep it in good working order. It is a simple and straightforward process that should be completed regularly to ensure that your tape measure operates smoothly and accurately when you need it. Remember, regular maintenance will extend the life of your tape measure and keep it in good condition.
Adjusting the Spring Tension on the Tape Measure
One of the most common problems that tape measure users face is when the tape measure won’t retract. This problem can be frustrating and can slow down your work. The good news is that fixing a tape measure that won’t retract is usually a simple process that you can do yourself. One of the ways to resolve this issue is to adjust the spring tension.
The spring tension of a tape measure is what pulls the tape back into the housing when you release the lock. If the spring tension is too weak, the tape measure may fail to retract properly. Here’s how you can adjust the spring tension on your tape measure to fix this problem:
Step 1: Disassemble the Housing
The first step is to disassemble the housing of your tape measure. You can do this by removing the screws that hold the housing together. If you’re not sure how to do this, consult the user manual that came with your tape measure.
Once you have removed the screws, carefully open the housing and locate the spring mechanism. The spring mechanism is usually located near the lock button.
Step 2: Adjust the Tension
Using a pair of pliers, gently unhook the end of the spring from the housing. Then, carefully adjust the tension of the spring by twisting it around the peg that holds it in place. If the spring tension is too weak, twist the spring in a clockwise direction to increase the tension. If the spring tension is too strong, twist the spring in a counterclockwise direction to decrease the tension.
Step 3: Reassemble the Housing
Once you’ve adjusted the spring tension to the desired level, carefully reassemble the housing of your tape measure. Make sure that all the screws are tight and that the housing is securely fastened together before testing your tape measure.
Step 4: Test the Tape Measure
After you’ve reassembled the housing, test your tape measure to see if the spring tension adjustment has resolved the issue. Simply press the lock button and pull out the tape measure to its full length. Then, release the lock button and see if the tape measure retracts smoothly. If the tape measure still doesn’t retract properly, you may need to check other parts of the tape measure, such as the blade or the lock mechanism, for damage or wear.
In conclusion, adjusting the spring tension on a tape measure is a simple and effective way to fix a tape measure that won’t retract properly. By following these steps, you can quickly and easily adjust the tension of the spring mechanism and get back to using your tape measure with ease. If the tape measure still fails to retract after adjusting the spring tension, seek professional help to fix it.
Replacing the locking mechanism or tape return spring
If your tape measure is not retracting properly, you may need to replace the locking mechanism or the tape return spring. These two components work together to ensure that the tape measure stays in place when you need to take a measurement and then retracts smoothly back into the housing when you’re finished. Here’s how to replace them:
1. Replacing the locking mechanism
The locking mechanism is the part of the tape measure that holds the tape in place when you’ve extended it to the desired length. To replace it, start by removing the end cap from the housing. You may need to use a screwdriver or pliers to do this, depending on the type of tape measure you have.
Next, carefully remove the blade from the housing. Be sure to note how the locking mechanism is attached to the blade so that you can replicate this when you install the new one. Once the old locking mechanism is removed, you can install the new one by reversing these steps. Make sure that the new locking mechanism is securely attached to the blade before replacing the blade and end cap back into the housing.
2. Replacing the tape return spring
The tape return spring is what pulls the blade back into the housing when you release the lock. If this spring is broken or worn out, the tape measure may not retract properly. To replace it, start by removing the end cap from the housing. You may need to use a screwdriver or pliers to do this, depending on the type of tape measure you have.
Next, carefully remove the blade from the housing. The tape return spring is typically attached to the locking mechanism, so you’ll need to remove the old locking mechanism in order to replace the spring. Once the old spring is removed, you can install the new one by attaching it to the new locking mechanism and then reversing the steps to install the new locking mechanism and blade back into the housing.
3. Other considerations
If you’ve replaced both the locking mechanism and the tape return spring and your tape measure still won’t retract, there may be other issues at play. Check to make sure that the blade is not bent or twisted, as this can prevent it from retracting properly. You should also clean the blade and housing regularly to prevent dust and debris from building up and interfering with the tape measure’s function.
If you’re still having issues with your tape measure, it may be time to invest in a new one. While replacing the locking mechanism or tape return spring can be a DIY project, other issues may require the help of a professional.
By taking the time to maintain your tape measure and replace its components as needed, you can ensure that it will continue to work effectively for years to come.