Soldering is the process of joining surfaces of components together, for both electrical and/or mechanical purposes. However, there are times when you solder and it isn’t done correctly, or you accidentally installed the wrong component, or you need to modify the PCB. This is when you might need to remove or “desolder” components.
Desoldering is really the reverse of soldering. You are removing a component by melting the solder out of the joint. Then you can fix your mistake and start the soldering process over. Or maybe you want to modify or change an existing circuit or even reuse some components from another PCB. This is when you need to desolder.
If you want to remove the solder from a circuit board, PCB or other device, there are a few ways to do this. The challenge when desoldering is removing the excess solder quickly without damaging the circuit board.
As with soldering, flux can be very helpful in desoldering (some call it solder removal) to help with the heat transfer and make the solder move more readily. No-clean flux and rosin flux are good choices for desoldering.
Whichever method you choose, the idea is to heat the solder joints with a soldering iron or hot air tool until molten and then remove the components.
Below are five different ways to remove solder or desolder your components:
1. Use a Soldering Iron
A Soldering iron is the easiest way to remove the solder from your components. You just need the iron and a pair of tweezers.
2. Use a Desolder Wick/Braid & Soldering Iron
A Desolder Wick or Braid is a good option if you want to remove extra solder from the pins of a through-hole component or extra solder from shoulder pads. It works well for hard to reach areas. It is helpful to use a soldering tip that is about the same width as the contact area and the braid. And you might want to add even more solder to the tighter areas to make it easier to remove.
3. Use A Soldapullt Solder Pump & Soldering Iron
A soldering pump is essentially a pump where you suction or suck the melted solder from the circuit board holes.
4. Use a Power Desoldering Station
A power desoldering station with temperature control is another way to remove components or desolder. The power desoldering station is generally used for larger volume desoldering jobs.
5. Use a Hot Air Tool for SMT Components
A hot air rework station provides a non-contact heating method for reflowing solder to remove or install SMT components.
Inspect the Component and Clean
After you have desoldered the area, component or pins, it is time to inspect under magnification the surrounding area for any remaining solder, damage or contamination.
If there is any remaining solder, repeat the desoldering or you can even use a very fine-tip heated soldering iron to remove it. Then you clean the area with some Isopropyl alcohol and a brush to remove the excess flux residue or contamination.
Reuse, Replace or Discard the Component
After the area is clean and you have successfully removed the component, you can replace it, reuse it or discard it depending on the situation. You can then hand solder the correct component back into place using your soldering method of choice.