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Safe to use WD40 as switch or potentiometer cleaner?

F

Franky

Jan 1, 1970
0
Is it safe to use WD40 as a switch (or potentiometer) cleaner on
circuit boards and in electronic equipment?

I know that you can get the proper aerosol spray cans of switch
cleaner but if I find myself without one of those then can I use
WD40?

Personally I would guess it is not OK as I figure there is always a
thin layer of oil but several people I have spoken to say that they
use WD40 all the time.

Any views on this?
 
R

Ron Hardin

Jan 1, 1970
0
Franky said:
Is it safe to use WD40 as a switch (or potentiometer) cleaner on
circuit boards and in electronic equipment?

I know that you can get the proper aerosol spray cans of switch
cleaner but if I find myself without one of those then can I use
WD40?

Personally I would guess it is not OK as I figure there is always a
thin layer of oil but several people I have spoken to say that they
use WD40 all the time.

Any views on this?

I have great results with Caig DeoxIT, which prevents oxidation as well. WD40 sounds
very unlikely.

http://www.partsexpress.com/webpage.cfm?&DID=7&WebPage_ID=3

I use the brush-on mostly, on plugs and jacks; the spray for some pots.
Actually works.
 
A

Agonia

Jan 1, 1970
0
No, it is flammable, doesn't really clean that good, and leaves a residue
that attracts dirt.
Use a real electronic cleaner (usually a heavy freon type) cost is about the
same.
 
In sci.physics Franky said:
Is it safe to use WD40 as a switch (or potentiometer) cleaner on
circuit boards and in electronic equipment?
I know that you can get the proper aerosol spray cans of switch
cleaner but if I find myself without one of those then can I use
WD40?
Personally I would guess it is not OK as I figure there is always a
thin layer of oil but several people I have spoken to say that they
use WD40 all the time.
Any views on this?

Some rambling thoughts:

The carrier and other volatiles may or may not attack plasic parts
depending on the type of plastic.

I've seen contact cleaners that leave a residue detune RF circuits at
VHF and UHF frequencies.

I've seen contact cleaners that leave a residue cause problems with
high voltage (several hundred volts) circuits as well as high impedance
circuits. I'm guessing that the residue caused dust, etc. to stick
which was just conductive enough to cause a problem.

In general, if all you have is WD40 and you are judicious in applying
it, it should be OK.
 
J

John Miller

Jan 1, 1970
0
Franky said:
Is it safe to use WD40 as a switch (or potentiometer) cleaner on
circuit boards and in electronic equipment?

I know that you can get the proper aerosol spray cans of switch
cleaner but if I find myself without one of those then can I use
WD40?

Personally I would guess it is not OK as I figure there is always a
thin layer of oil but several people I have spoken to say that they
use WD40 all the time.

Any views on this?

The following is offered for information/trivia value only. If ex-Tek
repair guy Jim Yanik happens to read this, he will be able to confirm,
clarify or refute.

If memory serves, WD-40 has been specified in some Tek service manuals for
certain contact cleaning applications (definitely not all, and please do
not use it on the basis of this anecdotal information.)

--
John Miller
Email address: domain, n4vu.com; username, jsm

Life is one long struggle in the dark.
-- Titus Lucretius Carus
 
K

kony

Jan 1, 1970
0
Is it safe to use WD40 as a switch (or potentiometer) cleaner on
circuit boards and in electronic equipment?

Not really, there is nothing particularly good/appropriate about
using it. It will leave oily film behind that dissolves the
grease in moving parts (which should stay in those parts) and
will attract dust.

I know that you can get the proper aerosol spray cans of switch
cleaner but if I find myself without one of those then can I use
WD40?

Generally a pot will clean itself good enough if you just turn it
back and forth a few times, unless the spring-metal contacts's
tension has been reduced though wear. If that's the case it's
"sometimes" possible to gently pry open the pot and (re)bend
contacts back out, but it's really a last-ditch effort if you
can't find another pot or need immediate fix.

Personally I would guess it is not OK as I figure there is always a
thin layer of oil but several people I have spoken to say that they
use WD40 all the time.

Any views on this?

Why would anyone want to use a degreaser that leaves behind a
residue of it's own? It may work a bit but mostly if that pot
had decades-old hardened grease, not for parts that were
regularly used. WD40 may help with mechanical function of the
pot but electrical contact should be worse over time.
 
M

Michael Black

Jan 1, 1970
0
John said:
The following is offered for information/trivia value only. If ex-Tek
repair guy Jim Yanik happens to read this, he will be able to confirm,
clarify or refute.

If memory serves, WD-40 has been specified in some Tek service manuals for
certain contact cleaning applications (definitely not all, and please do
not use it on the basis of this anecdotal information.)
I saw part of one of their bulletins years ago, reprinted elsewhere, and
they said something about using WD-40 to clean the blue case on the scopes.

Michael
 
B

Bob Stephens

Jan 1, 1970
0
Is it safe to use WD40 as a switch (or potentiometer) cleaner on
circuit boards and in electronic equipment?

I know that you can get the proper aerosol spray cans of switch
cleaner but if I find myself without one of those then can I use
WD40?

Personally I would guess it is not OK as I figure there is always a
thin layer of oil but several people I have spoken to say that they
use WD40 all the time.

Any views on this?

I used to work with a former safe and vault mechanic/locksmith who said
that WD40 was the worst thing you could do to a piece of machinery, because
the residue attracts grit and ends up being more abrasive than if you had
left it alone in the first place.


Bob
 
G

Graham W

Jan 1, 1970
0
Franky said:
Is it safe to use WD40 as a switch (or potentiometer) cleaner on
circuit boards and in electronic equipment?

I know that you can get the proper aerosol spray cans of switch
cleaner but if I find myself without one of those then can I use
WD40?

Personally I would guess it is not OK as I figure there is always a
thin layer of oil but several people I have spoken to say that they
use WD40 all the time.

Any views on this?

WD40 is a Water Dispersant and should never be used as a switch
cleaner since it isn't, by design, either a cleaner or lubricant.
 
S

Sam Wormley

Jan 1, 1970
0
Franky said:
Is it safe to use WD40 as a switch (or potentiometer) cleaner on
circuit boards and in electronic equipment?

I know that you can get the proper aerosol spray cans of switch
cleaner but if I find myself without one of those then can I use
WD40?

Personally I would guess it is not OK as I figure there is always a
thin layer of oil but several people I have spoken to say that they
use WD40 all the time.

Any views on this?

The product designs for cleaning pots, connectors and switches is
DeoxIT D5 (Caig Laboratories, Inc.)
http://www.caig.com
 
M

Mark (UK)

Jan 1, 1970
0
Hi!

??

I think it is a lubricant, but maybe not an electrical one.....

It certainly lubricates parts on my car :)

Yours, Mark.
 
J

John Miller

Jan 1, 1970
0
Mark said:
I think it is a lubricant, but maybe not an electrical one.....

It certainly lubricates parts on my car :)

While it might technically have lubricant properties, it's not a very good
lubricant, having been formulated as a water dispersant. In particular, it
doesn't have much film strength.

It is a pretty good solvent for lots of things, though, and can sometimes be
used to "rejuvinate" dried up lubricants (which is by no means a substitute
for proper cleaning and re-lubing).

--
John Miller
Email address: domain, n4vu.com; username, jsm

When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by
one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.
-Edmund Burke
 
N

nospam

Jan 1, 1970
0
Franky said:
Is it safe to use WD40 as a switch (or potentiometer) cleaner on
circuit boards and in electronic equipment?

I know that you can get the proper aerosol spray cans of switch
cleaner but if I find myself without one of those then can I use
WD40?

Personally I would guess it is not OK as I figure there is always a
thin layer of oil but several people I have spoken to say that they
use WD40 all the time.

I have a Philips frequency counter with PCB mounted radio button type
switches. After about 10 years the switches were intermittent and a getting
to be a real pain in the arse.

I tried cleaning them several times with solvents (PCB cleaner and IPA tape
head cleaner) which made little difference I tried some WD40 which worked
wonders. It is probably another 10 years on now and the switches are still
fine.

I have also used WD40 very sparingly as a lubricant for PGA processor pins
in the days before motherboards had ZIF sockets. It made a huge difference
to the force required to get a chip in or out and had no noticeable
detrimental effects.
 
G

gothika

Jan 1, 1970
0
Is it safe to use WD40 as a switch (or potentiometer) cleaner on
circuit boards and in electronic equipment?

I know that you can get the proper aerosol spray cans of switch
cleaner but if I find myself without one of those then can I use
WD40?

Personally I would guess it is not OK as I figure there is always a
thin layer of oil but several people I have spoken to say that they
use WD40 all the time.

Any views on this?

NO! WD40 isn't even a good lubricant and certainly not a contact
cleaner or pot washer.
You didn't give any details as to the type of pot you want to clean.
some of the larger/older pots can be taken apart and washed out, then
relubed(lithium grease) and put back together.
You can use a regular contact cleaner or a solvent such as denatured
alchohol or isobutane(lighter fluid) to clean it out.
Blow it out with clean dry air.(or set it up and let it air dry)
A very thin coat of lithium based lube(I use Lubriplate) then
reasemble it.
If it's a newer style pot that has a sealed plastic case the best you
could do is spray or drip sonme contact cleaner around the base of the
shaft.( Sit unit up on it's back panel to allow gravity to force the
cleaner in.).
Let it sit for a few seconds and work the pot up and down to get the
grit/dust worked off the contact area.
If the pot's seam around the shaft looks like it has enough gap to put
a little air in you can try that to get the dust out.(I turn the unit
facing down, cover the pot with clean white paper towel and blow air
in using a fine point nozzle. You'll see if your getting any dirt out
by looking at the paper towel.)
 
A

Art Leonard

Jan 1, 1970
0
Franky said:
Is it safe to use WD40 as a switch (or potentiometer) cleaner on
circuit boards and in electronic equipment?

I know that you can get the proper aerosol spray cans of switch
cleaner but if I find myself without one of those then can I use
WD40?

Personally I would guess it is not OK as I figure there is always a
thin layer of oil but several people I have spoken to say that they
use WD40 all the time.

Any views on this?


WD40 is a mixture of kerosene and light spindle oil, not much good for
cleaning since it doesn't evaporate at any rate that would leave a dry
surface in your life time.

Art Leonard
 
K

Kim

Jan 1, 1970
0
Why the hell would you want to fill your switch or potentiometer with a
coating of slimy sticky oil, when cans of proper cleaner are only about 1.00
more expensive than a can of WD 40...hell you might as well use PAM!
Kim
 
V

Van Gardner

Jan 1, 1970
0
John Miller said:
While it might technically have lubricant properties, it's not a very good
lubricant, having been formulated as a water dispersant. In particular, it
doesn't have much film strength.

It is a pretty good solvent for lots of things, though, and can sometimes be
used to "rejuvinate" dried up lubricants (which is by no means a substitute
for proper cleaning and re-lubing).

There is an interesting history of WD40 on the web at:

http://www.wd40.com/AboutUs/our_history.html

I had used it for a long time to loosen rusted nuts & bolts. One day
I washed my car engine off at the car wash and got water in the
distributor cap and was trying to dry it out with a paper towel and
some man came over with a can of WD40 and sprayed some in the cap and
the engine started immediately. I later saw a program on TV telling
of the development of WD40 as a water displacement solution.

Van Gardner
 
G

gothika

Jan 1, 1970
0
There is an interesting history of WD40 on the web at:

http://www.wd40.com/AboutUs/our_history.html

I had used it for a long time to loosen rusted nuts & bolts. One day
I washed my car engine off at the car wash and got water in the
distributor cap and was trying to dry it out with a paper towel and
some man came over with a can of WD40 and sprayed some in the cap and
the engine started immediately. I later saw a program on TV telling
of the development of WD40 as a water displacement solution.

Van Gardner

The water displacement properties came about some years back with the
formula of WD40.
Up until then it was really just a light duty oil. And as anyone
versed in corrosion control knows light oils can actually promote rust
by holding water onto a metal surface.
This was WD40's major failing, it might loosen a stuck part up but if
left on would result in rust.
If you want a good lubricant AND corrosion control material then you
go with LPS.
It comes in different grades from very light (LPS1) to very heavy(LPS4
or even 5)
It displaces moisture/water and provides reduction in surface
friction.
You can use LPS 1 or 2 for electromechanical lubrication and it does
have some cleaning properties.
I used it for many years in industrial electronics in relays and
solenoids etc...
Even with the formulation change most professionals still consider
WD40 to be crap.
To clean out your pot use a good contact cleaner followed by the
proper grease.(Lithium based such as Lubriplate)
 
W

Watson A.Name - \Watt Sun, the Dark Remover\

Jan 1, 1970
0
nospam said:
I have a Philips frequency counter with PCB mounted radio button type
switches. After about 10 years the switches were intermittent and a getting
to be a real pain in the arse.

I tried cleaning them several times with solvents (PCB cleaner and IPA tape
head cleaner) which made little difference I tried some WD40 which worked
wonders. It is probably another 10 years on now and the switches are still
fine.

I have also used WD40 very sparingly as a lubricant for PGA processor pins
in the days before motherboards had ZIF sockets. It made a huge difference
to the force required to get a chip in or out and had no noticeable
detrimental effects.

Well, so far, after reading at least ten followups to this thread,
you're the only one that's for using WD-40. The others are all against.

Sorry to say it, but I agree with the others. WD-40 leaves a film that
attracts dust and just causes more problems later.

A week ago I took one of the smog control sensors apart on my car, and
found it to be working okay, but I'm still getting the trouble light.
The sensor has a spring loaded pin that sticks out and touches the
diaphragm, and as the pin is pushed in, the resistance of the sensor
varies from 2k or so to zero. The end of this pin had a small dab of
white grease to lube it. It's essentially a pot with the ends at ground
and +5V, and the wiper at somewhere in between. But the three pins on
the connector were coated with a clear grease, which prevents corrosion
but doesn't insulate the mating contacts from one another. This
connector is sealed with a rubber gasket to keep out all that nasty junk
from the engine. So these sensors rely on a small amount of special
grease and a good seal to protect them from corrosion, and keep them
from giving the wrong position info to the controller.

Whatever lubricant you use on a switch, it should be designed to do the
proper job, and WD-40 was not designed for that purpose. Use a contact
cleaner and lubricant that's made to clean and lubricate contacts.
 
W

Watson A.Name - \Watt Sun, the Dark Remover\

Jan 1, 1970
0
gothika said:
NO! WD40 isn't even a good lubricant and certainly not a contact
cleaner or pot washer.
You didn't give any details as to the type of pot you want to clean.
some of the larger/older pots can be taken apart and washed out, then
relubed(lithium grease) and put back together.
You can use a regular contact cleaner or a solvent such as denatured
alchohol or isobutane(lighter fluid) to clean it out.
Blow it out with clean dry air.(or set it up and let it air dry)
A very thin coat of lithium based lube(I use Lubriplate) then
reasemble it.
If it's a newer style pot that has a sealed plastic case the best you
could do is spray or drip sonme contact cleaner around the base of the
shaft.( Sit unit up on it's back panel to allow gravity to force the
cleaner in.).
Let it sit for a few seconds and work the pot up and down to get the
grit/dust worked off the contact area.
If the pot's seam around the shaft looks like it has enough gap to put
a little air in you can try that to get the dust out.(I turn the unit
facing down, cover the pot with clean white paper towel and blow air
in using a fine point nozzle. You'll see if your getting any dirt out
by looking at the paper towel.)

My thought is that using something other than clear grease could cause
the pot's resistance to change. Grease with an additive could be less
than an insulator, causing a reduction in the pot's resistance.

ANother point. If a pot is worn, no amount of cleaner or lubricant is
going to make it unworn. It will need to be replaced if the equipment
has to perform like it was when it was new.
 
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