How to Fix a Warped Vinyl Record

Vinyl records can get bent and warped over time, which can lead to playback problems. This article is going to help you learn about best ways to fix them, as well as how to protect your records from getting warped in future

Vinyl records have brought a boom in the music industry when they arrived as they gave a cheap and reliable way for people to listen to music wherever they want. Even though everybody thought they are going extinct with the digitalization of music, many avid listeners actually cared to listen to music the old way on the gramophone, leading in revival and steady LP market all around the world.

Option 1: Using pressure

The easiest, but also the longest way to fix a warped vinyl record is to get that record under pressure.

This is the cheapest way to do it, but it’s also longest by far. You’ll need to wait for at least a couple of days if not even weeks. The point of this method is to use pure pressure from the weight to unwrap and straighten the curves on your record.

To do this properly, you’ll need some large heavy objects which are big enough on the surface to cover the whole of the record (think really big books). If you don’t have these or don’t want to use them, you can always use two pieces of glass or other flat surfaces as a cover. Glass is the best option if you can manage to find it – inexpensive, cheap and has all of the qualities you’re looking for.

So, these are the steps:

1. Wipe the record clean, to prevent further damage

2. Put the record in a paper sleeve, or in between two papers – no plastic, please

3. Put a sleeved record in between the two surfaces of your choice and weigh it down.

You should note that the whole of the record has to be covered when weighing it down as you can very easily break the record if you weigh it down improperly. You should put your weight in the center of the record if it’s not able to cover the whole of the record (like if you’re using a glass panel instead of a book).

Option 2: Pressure and heat

The other way to fix a warped record is to use pressure and heat. With this way you’ll get your end results in a matter of minutes, not days, but because there’s heat involved you need to be really careful as in not to melt your record to being unusable.

In the DIY manner, you’ll need two glass plates, some paper sleeves, cardboard, and an oven. As with the previous option, you need to get your records cleaned before you put them in paper sleeves and in between the glass plates.

There are several different ways in which you can do this thing, and in this video you can see one of the safer options:

As for the steps:

  1. Clean your record
  2. Clean your glass plates
  3. Place your record inside of a paper sleeve (definitely do not use plastic!)
  4. Put your glass plates inside of the oven which was preheated to approximately 70 degrees Celsius.
  5. Keep your glass plates inside until they get hot
  6. Take them out and place the records between the glass plates for as long as the glass needs to cool down to room temperature and voila! Repeat the process if there are more severe warps.

You can also find that some people put the record inside the oven with the glass, but that is a way riskier way of unwarping the records. Also, as glass doesn’t really do well in temperature change situations, you should never put cold glass in a hot oven as it could shatter, and you can easily get hurt or damage your oven. You can also put smaller weight on the top glass panel to help with the flattening process if you feel like it.

Option 3: Buying a machine

If you don’t want to be bothered with DIY ways of preventing damage on your records, you can always turn to industry for a solution

There are several different machines that can help with the warping problem, most of which work on the same principles listed above, using heat and pressure. The problem with these is that they are really expensive, but if you don’t want to be bothered with work (or have a lot of records to recover) you’ll want to get one of these to help you out.

What causes a record to warp?

Vinyl is essentially a type of plastic. As such, it’s quite flexible, but at the same time, this is the exact thing that causes records to warp. If the heat is applied, these thin pieces of plastic will melt very easily, causing the record to lose its original flat shape.

To prevent this to happen there are two things you must think about. First off, never store your records on top of one another. This will create pressure by pure weight of vinyl’s and the bottom records will have a huge amount of pressure on them, causing them to warp or worse, crack. To prevent this, you should always store them upright, as if they were books in the library. This way you’ll minimize the pressure these records are feeling.

Secondly, do everything you can to avoid heat. This means also that you shouldn’t really direct your records to direct sunlight, as it can damage them if they are being directed on a daily basis to this. You should store them in room temperature in a shade, to help them keep their sound and looks intact.

How do you tell if a record is warped?

The vinyl record should be straight as an arrow. Since warps are not usually gigantic, there can be a problem to notice one. The easiest way is to put a record on a gramophone and let it spin. If there is a warp, you’ll definitely be able to notice it looking to the side of the record while spinning. At one moment, you’ll see the line of the record going up or down, depending on where the warp is.

How long can a record be played?

Answer to this depends on the way you keep your records and on what equipment you’re playing them, as well as how much you’re playing them.

If you store your records properly and use quality equipment properly, you’ll be able to play a single record many hundreds of times, meaning that you’ll probably be able to play it for decades.

Summary

We hope that this article has helped you learn about prevention and proper ways of how to store your records as well as the ways in which you can save your records from warp damage. As always, you should be careful and probably test everything on some cheap record you don’t care about before you put your favorite record to the test with flattening options!

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