Do It Yourself: How To Fix A Squeaky Wheel On Nearly Anything

SQUEAK! SQUEAK! SQUEAK! It's not a mouse infestation. It's worse than that. Somewhere, a wheel is squeaking, and you're losing your mind. Here's how to fix it.

SQUEAK! SQUEAK! SQUEAK!

It's not a mouse infestation in your walls. It's worse than that. Somewhere, a wheel is squeaking, and you're ready to throw the offending object out the nearest picture window.

The good news is that, in most cases, doing away with the aggravating noise is even easier than getting rid of a mouse problem. More often than not, it only requires a few tools and a little work on your part.

First, naturally, is to find out exactly what's squeaking. Is it one of your computer chair's wheels, or is it somewhere in the swiveling mechanism? Pinpoint the precise location of the problem before you run in with both cans of spray lube blazing.

Hopefully it's a problem that can be fixed with a close inspection of the problem area. Be sure to move the object into a well-lighted place and search for built-up dust, dirt, and debris. These things can be removed with a few shots of compressed air or a clean paintbrush.

If that doesn't work, you can probably move on to spray lubricant (such as WD-40). Read the directions on the product's container before you start spraying away. If it's all right to use it, go ahead - spray liberally, but be sure that you've protected, say, the Berber carpet beneath the object.

You'll have to wait a few minutes for the lube to soak in before testing to be certain that this has worked. Move the problem area (the wheel or pivot or whatever) to work the lube into the hard-to-reach places. If it doesn't work, spray a little more into the area and wait a few more minutes.



If that's a lost cause, you'll probably have to take the item apart to give it a closer inspection. Sometimes small plastic parts break off and grind against the moving parts inside. Other times, the moving parts are warped or just worn out.

Whatever the case, be sure to use the right tools for the disassembly job. Patience is the key to getting the wheel - whatever kind it might be - apart without destroying it.

For wheels that turn on bearings (which include in-line skates, your car, et cetera), you can take them apart and re-pack the bearings. Be sure to use fresh grease for the job, and wipe off any excess.

While you're inside, depending on what type of wheel it is, you can always re-grease or re-lube the moving parts. This doesn't apply to wheels with moving parts made of plastic, but most of the other kinds could probably use a little lubrication. Since you're already in there, you might as well spend a couple of minutes doing it. If nothing else, you'll save the time and trouble of going back in there to do it in a few weeks or months.

If you can't get it apart, you can probably replace the wheels. If they're on, say, a computer chair, you can buy or order replacements through office-supply stores or the manufacturer. If you're having problems with the wheels on your skates, you can buy new ones at your local sporting-goods store.

Sometimes this is the easier route, especially if the wheels in question have been on the product for awhile. If your skate's wheels are worn down to little rubber/plastic nubs on one side, then you'll probably feel safer with brand-new ones anyway.

Every now and then you find recurring problems with wheels. You may have replaced the things three or four times in the past couple of years, only to find that you're right back where you started with that awful, hair-curling squeak.

Fortunately, you can do a few things to prevent that.

-Keep your equipment clean. Dust and dirt will cause squeaks - and worse problems. Clean your stuff regularly, and try to use it in a fairly clean area.

-Watch the weight. Read the manufacturer's specifications to find out the product's limits. Overloading it can stress the wheels, which can lead to warps and breaks.

-Don't forget routine maintenance. Cleaning, lubricating, and inspecting your stuff will help keep it in top shape for a long time to come.

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