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All of a sudden, one of my laptop's keys isn't working.

Should I pull it out and clean the base myself, or is this too much of a risk?

Note that if I press the key hard at a certain angle, it appears to work. However, the soft touch doesn't work, hence the keyboard is effectively useless for any critical typing (such as coding).

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4 Answers 4

Laptop keyboards tend to be fiddly to put back together, I'd try first with a clean paintbrush or canned air to see if you can clean behind it.

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Update: It works, If I press it hard on certain angle. The soft touch no longer works. What to do? –  Shamim Hafiz Aug 21 '11 at 10:25
    
If cleaning behind it doesn't sort it you may have to remove it. Be very careful if you do because there are usually some very thin (0.5mm) plastic pins hooking onto the top piece and they'll snap if you look at them cross eyed. –  Col Aug 21 '11 at 20:15
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Though the other replies given are valid, my exact case was resolved by replacing they keyboard altogether. I pulled out the key and replaced it back, but to no avail.

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Some keyboards can be taken apart (with reasonable probability of successful reassembly) and others not.

When a key is not responding it's generally either because the conductive paint that is used for a resistance key has worn off, or because of a bad connection in the PC board substrate (often due, in turn, to pop spilled on the keyboard).

One can purchase, on the web, special conductive paint for "refreshing" resistive contacts (won't do anything for capacitive keyboards). One can also purchase special conductive ink for restoring PC board traces that have been etched through by pop or otherwise rendered non-conductive.

But generally the effort to repair a keyboard is not worth it if you can buy a replacement.

A special note on pop spilled on keyboards

This does in many keyboards. Often the pop will be spilled and the keyboard become immediately inoperative due to the water in the pop. Then the water dries up and the keyboard works for a few days, but soon stops working as the phosphoric acid in the pop etches away the printed circuit traces in the keyboard.

If you spill pop (or coffee) on a keyboard, the thing to do is to immediately disassemble it as much as possible and then rinse thoroughly. This rinsing should be done by submerging the keyboard innards completely in tap water several times (replace water with clean after each wash). Agitate well while submerged, to work water into the recesses of the keyboard. A dash of dishwasher rinse agent in the water will help somewhat. Then give the keyboard a couple of rinses in distilled water. Lean up against a vertical support to dry (so water runs off), and allow to dry for 3-4 days.

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A similar thing happened to me and what I did was get a thin paintbrush and nestle it under the key. It took a while but I cleaned out underneath till it worked again.

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