Content of the material
- THE STRUCTURE OF A ZIPPER
- Zipper Issues And How to Fix Them
- Stuck Zippers
- Separated zippers
- Bent Teeth Inside The Zipper
- 4) How to fix a zipper pull that broke off
- Few tips on how to fix a split zipper
- Check the zipper
- Straighten bent teeth
- Remove buildup from a zipper’s teeth
- Fix the slider
- How to fix a stuck zipper
- Types of Zips
- When All Else Fails
- Replacing the entire zipper
- FIXING THE COMMON ZIPPER PROBLEMS
- Where did the name “zipper” come from?
THE STRUCTURE OF A ZIPPER
- Slider: This part of the zipper separates or joins the elements when it’s opened or closed. There are different kinds of sliders available depending on the use.
- Elements: The elements, also referred to as the teeth, are the parts of either end of the zipper that engage or mesh with each other when the zipper is in operation. When the right and the left side engage, they form a chain.
- Tape: The tape is designed exclusively for the zippers. It’s typically made of polyester. Depending on the application, cotton tape, vinyl tape, and synthetic fiber tape are also available.
Zipper Issues And How to Fix Them
We’ve mentioned that in order to know how to fix a broken zipper, you need to know what exactly can go wrong with one, but once you know what is wrong, you’re in a better position to actually fix the problem properly. Let’s check out a few common situations and explain how to fix a broken zipper properly.
There are a few ways you can unstick a zipper, but most methods require lubrication of some kind, because as we mentioned before, brute force alone is not going to do the zipper much good, and will probably end up breaking it completely, or causing another problem, such as bent teeth on the zipper itself. You can use graphite, laundry soap, or even something like Vaseline, but you basically need to encourage movement.
First things first – why is it stuck? Is there something blocking it? If so, you need to try and clean it out, and you can do that by using a cotton bud stick or something similar; if it’s really stuck, try using tweezers, to dislodge whatever is causing the blockage.
Now the blockage has gone, the zipper may decide to move freely, but if not, you need to try and encourage it a little more. This is where the lubrication side of things will come in very handy, because once lubricated, you’ll probably find that the zipper moves.
Graphite is found in pencils, usually the number 2 variety, and it is useful in zipper fixing because there is a natural grease in its make up. If you rub this graphite onto the zipper, particularly where the ‘stuck part’ is and then gently try and move it, you will probably find it moves, if not repeat the process and try a few more times.
You might find that you need to wiggle it a little, but don’t push too hard, as you’ll end up causing damage which may or may not be fixable. Laundry soap can be used in exactly the same way, however in order to apply it it’s best to dip a cotton wool ball into the soap and then run it under a little water, to dilute it slightly.
Make sure the cotton wool ball is totally coated and then repeat what we talked about when using graphite. You will probably need to repeat this process a few times until the zipper unsticks completely and moves freely.
A separated zipper happens because there is too much pressure being put on the zip, so perhaps your jacket is too tight, and in that case, sorry to say it, but you need a bigger size, or you need to wear less clothes underneath it.
A separated zipper may right itself when there is less pressure on it, but only if the separation is slight and not too much. If the zipper has gone over the point of no return, you’re best to remove it and replace with a new zipper entirely.
This isn’t an issue which should really happen to tent zippers, until you are pulling the tag on the zipper too hard when opening or closing, so simply go carefully to avoid these problems from occurring in the first place.
Bent Teeth Inside The Zipper
Bent teeth will obviously stop the zipper from moving completely, because there isn’t a smooth track for the carriage to work with. In order to straighten bent teeth, all you really need is a pair of tweezers.
Find out where the bent teeth are, and then using the tweezers, try and straighten them – go carefully however, because if you snap the teeth which are bent, there is no going back. Having said that, zippers on outdoorsy equipment is a lot more hard-wearing than your average school bag, so a little extra pressure isn’t going to cause the biggest issue here.
As you’re attempting to straighten the teeth, keep testing by moving the carriage gently to the point where the bend is, and wiggle it a little; you may never have a clear passage past that point in the future, because the teeth in this area are never going to be 100% straight again, but provided the carriage moves past easily, that’s all you need.
4) How to fix a zipper pull that broke off
If the zipper pull breaks off the slider but the slider loop is still intact, you can easily insert other objects like a keyring, keychain, paper clip, or even these replacement zipper pulls from Amazon.
There are other products like ZipperMend which sells zipper pulls that provide a more permanent solution for a zipper pull that broke off. It’s generally not necessary to replace a zipper slider if only the zipper pull breaks; however, replacing the entire zipper slider is the only way to create a permanent solution.
Few tips on how to fix a split zipper
This is an easy way to fix a zipper without replacing it. This method is really fast too. It works when the zipper pull doesn’t close the zipper together anymore. You can save a jacket, a tent, a sleeping bag, and many other items.
Check the zipper
First, double-check to make sure a piece of cloth or thread isn’t stuck in the zipper.
Straighten bent teeth
You may need to fix bent teeth to get your zipper to close. to do this, use your tool of choice (perhaps pliers) to pull the tooth straight.
- Repeat as needed.
- Be careful not to pull the tooth out of the tape.
- Test the repair by opening and closing the zipper as normal.
Remove buildup from a zipper’s teeth
When substances build up around the teeth of your zipper, it can prevent the zipper from staying closed. As a result, you’ll need to clean the teeth and remove stuff that could be preventing the zipper from closing.
- Combine water and soap in a small dish, and stir until suds form.
- Dip a clean rag in the soapy water and wipe down the zipper’s teeth.
- Grab a fresh rag and run it under the tap.
- Wipe the soapy mixture off the teeth with the damp rag.
- Attempt to zip and unzip as normal.
Fix the slider
If the teeth are straight, and clean, take a look at the slider itself. Over time, the slider starts to come apart, and when that happens, it stops clinching the zipper teeth together.
Follow these steps;
Step 1: What you’ll need You will only need a pair of pliers. But if the slider is really destroyed or is made of plastic you will need a new one of the same size. you can find it in another old jacket. Or you can buy one online for really cheap.
Step 2: Remove teeth remove the little iron teeth of the top of the zipper, which will be on the same side of the jacket where the slider is.
Step 3: Remove slider remove zipper pull. You can probably see that it is all distorted.
Step 4: Adjust the slider (Only for iron zippers) with the pliers close the two sides of the zipper pull, try to make it look like the original shape again. If your zipper pull is not too worn out you can try to close it directly on the zipper, without removing it.
Step 5: Put back the slider Put back the slider. It may take a little bit of time.
Step 6: Put back the tooth Put back the iron tooth with the pliers.
If the zip still splits, replace the slider when replacing the slider, make sure to:
• locate the side of the zipper that has the square tab on the bottom. • wedge the top teeth of the zipper into the slider. • If necessary, use a flathead screwdriver to wedge the teeth into the gap. • wiggle and pull the slider until it moves down to the bottom of the zipper.
As for jeans, the solution is a little more complicated. If you can, you need to remove the metal bumper at the bottom and replace it with stitches, or just tie it off in the middle if teeth are missing at the bottom. Unfortunately, this only really works with pants where you can actually get to the bottom bumper.
Watch this video by Margaret Meyer on How to Fix Broken Zipper or Separating Zipper.
If that fails, or you’re working with pants where you can’t get to the entire zipper run, you might need to replace the zipper completely.
How to fix a stuck zipper
A stuck zipper is the most common issue– and probably the easiest to fix. It’s caused by either the teeth jamming in the slider from being out of line, or from fabric or something else getting snagged in the slider. If that something else is your skin, be extra careful with it (and maybe seek medical help). Ouchy.
- Don’t struggle or force it. This could make the situation worse and damage the fabric and zipper. And be sure to remove the garment first so you can get a better view and approach it from the right angle.
- If there’s fabric caught in the slider, gently tug on the fabric– not the zipper (it could separate the teeth). If that doesn’t work, use your needle nose pliers or tweezers to grab the fabric closest to the slider and gently pull. Wiggle it just a little bit, and gradually slide the zipper’s pull tab as you tug on the fabric until it releases.
- If there is no fabric or threads to pull out, use a pencil to coat the teeth with graphite (both sides of zipper if possible). You can also use a small amount of dish soap or petroleum jelly, applied with a cotton swab.
- After it’s unstuck, examine the teeth to make sure they’re not damaged. Straighten them out if they’re bent. And check the fabric for any damage or a crimp that may cause the same thing to happen in the future.
Bonus tip: Hold the zipper slider by the body (rather than the pull tab). It’s closer to the teeth so provides more control, and will help prevent damage.
Types of Zips
There’s a wide variety of different types of zips out there, so if one of your zips has broken the first thing you will need to do is identify which type of zipper you have before deciding how to go about fixing it.
Zips can be roughly broken down into three different categories:
- Plastic toothed zip: These have individual plastic teeth and are hardwearing so likely to be found on your outerwear.
- Metal toothed zip: Usually found on items such as denim jeans, you’re unlikely to find a metal zip on your camping gear.
- Plastic coil zip: Coil zips are also made of plastic, but the teeth are formed by a long strand of thin nylon plastic. These are often found on many different types of camping gear.
When All Else Fails
Sometimes, nothing will save a broken zipper. Rather than tossing the garment, replace the zipper yourself or hire a seamstress to help you. This is especially worthwhile if the garment is expensive. Weigh the cost of replacement vs. tossing the garment by pricing the cost of the zipper, the cost of paying a seamstress, and/or the cost of your own time.
Replacing the entire zipper
Occasionally no amount of tinkering will fix your zipper and you will be required to replace the entire zipper. This is a good skill to know, especially in the wilderness as a broken zip can lead to many problems. If the zip on your tent was to malfunction you could be inviting a number of pests in as well as the cold.
You will of course need to be carrying several spare zips of varying sizes in order to be prepared for any eventuality, though they take up very little space. It can take a little practice to get it right each time and ensure that the teeth all line up, but practice makes perfect.
A zipper that has rusted and no longer slides will need to be replaced, as will any zipper that is missing teeth from the middle of the chain. Here’s how you do it.
- First of all you will need to remove the old zipper. Use a razor blade to cut away the old stitching, taking care not to cut too deeply into the fabric.
- Next, cut the top and bottom of the tape on both sides and pull the old zip off.
- Take your new zipper and unzip it. Put one side in place and secure it with pins and loose stitching.
- Take the other side and zip it up to ensure the two sides are properly lined up.
- Pin the second side in place and unzip.
- Secure the second side with more pins and loose stitching, then test the zip again.
- Once you’re happy with the placement, it’s time to stitch it in place. Keep the zip closed for this to ensure the teeth are aligned.
- If you have access to a sewing machine, attach a zipper foot and use the machine to secure it in place.
- You can sew it by hand, taking care to prevent the two sides moving at all.
- For additional security or heavy duty zippers it’s worth double stitching the zipper in place.
FIXING THE COMMON ZIPPER PROBLEMS
- Stuck zipper: When the zipper is stuck, it’s always caught on something. In that case, it may not come down, and until the problem is fixed, you won’t be able to remove your jacket. There is a fast and easy way to rectify this issue. Get a graphite pencil and rub its tip on the teeth of the zipper. Try moving the zipper to see if it works. If it doesn’t, you can resort to using a lubricant. Windex is preferable since it’s not oil based, but you may also use lip balm or soap. Start applying the lubricant on the teeth from the zipper’s top to the bottom. Again, move the zipper down, reapply, and continue with the process until it can move freely.
- The teeth don’t close: One of the most frustrating issues with zippers is when their teeth won’t close. This problem results from a few reasons. Sometimes, the trick of using a graphite pencil or a bar soap will work, but in other cases, different techniques are required. When you experience this problem, double check to ensure that a piece of thread or cloth is not stuck in the zipper. After that, examine the teeth to ensure they are not sticking out. If they are sticking out, use a pair of pliers to place them back into position. If the teeth are clean and straight, take a look at the slider. With time, sliders come apart, and they stop clenching the teeth together. If that is the problem, use a pair of pliers to close the slider together. The solution is a bit completed when it comes to jeans. Where possible, you will have to remove the metal bumper at the zipper’s bottom and replace it using stitches. If this process fails, you may need to replace the entire zipper.
- The zipper doesn’t stay up: Zippers that don’t stay up can lead to all manner of embarrassing situations. Unluckily, this problem can’t be fixed permanently unless the full zipper is replaced. That said, there are two temporary fixes you choose. The easiest way is to slide the zipper pull, using a ring from your keys and attach it to the button on your pants. If you want flexibility, you may also utilize a rubber band.
- The slider and pull broke off: If the zipper pull and the slider come off completely, then you will need to replace them. For the pull, you can use a key ring, a paperclip, or a telephone wire in place of the pull.
Slide either of these items into the slider tab, and you have yourself a new zipper pull. You will need a pair of pliers to remove the slider and add a new one.
Replacing a slider is a simple process that should only take a few minutes. A step by step guide for replacing a slider is given below. Also, it would be a good idea to pack a multi-tool for camping in order to be prepared for anything. See our article on the best multi-tools to help you in any emergencies.
Image Credit: contohxsurat.co
Where did the name “zipper” come from?
It was the B. F. Goodrich Company that put Sundback’s fastener on a new type of rubber boots in 1923, which became the main use of zippers in the early years. The boot was originally called “The Mystik” but they weren’t selling. As the story goes, the company president came up with the crucial marketing angle: “What we need is an action word … something that will dramatize the way the thing zips … Why not call it a Zipper?”
The Universal Fastener Company was renamed Talon, set up manufacturing in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and began mass-producing its zippers. By 1930, 20 million zippers were being sold a year, and in the mid-’30s the fashion world took notice and began promoting the zipper for use on everything. By the end of WW2, talon was selling 500 million zippers a year, only to be eclipsed by YKK in the ’70s.