Update: This article was originally intended to be an overview about repairing a damaged HDMI Cable. Because of the great interest we’ve had in this article, we wrote a more updated and detailed version, “Repairing a Broken HDMI Cable – Part II.”
We’ve mentioned in several articles how fragile the Physical HDMI Connector is, and that one of the results of this is a damaged HDMI Cable. We’ve read many forum posts, and we’ve received emails from our clients asking if it’s possible to repair an HDMI Cable once it has been damaged. While it is possible, it can be very difficult to pull off.
Before reaching this point, there are things you can do to prevent damage to your HDMI Cable. Make sure you have plenty of room behind your HDMI Components so that you’re not pushing the HDMI Cables into the back of your Cabinet. Don’t place excessive stress on your HDMI Input. If you’re using a longer length HDMI Cable, most likely it’s a pretty heavy and stiff cable. Use hd EZ lock to eliminate the stress and keep your HDMI Cable in place, or consider a “port saver” to go between your HDMI Cable and your component. Prevention is the best medicine, and taking these steps can save you a lot of frustration and money in the long run.
Why would you want to repair an HDMI Cable instead of just replacing it? In most cases, it’s much easier to just replace the HDMI Cable with a new one. If you purchased your HDMI Cable from a reputable source, you might find that they will replace the HDMI Cable for you under warranty.
But you may have invested a lot of money in your HDMI Cable and it’s not covered, or you’ve gone through the trouble to install the HDMI Cable in-wall. Replacing an in-wall HDMI Cable can be a very labor intensive job, which is costly in both time and money. In some cases, it may be worth trying to repair the HDMI Connector.
What makes repairing/replacing the HDMI Connector so difficult? HDMI is passing so much bandwidth that there is very little room for error. The image above shows an HDMI Cable that has had the connector removed and the outer cable stripped back.
There are 19 wires inside the HDMI Cable (including drain wires) that all have to be precisely soldered to a very small connector. The 19 wires must also maintain a very precise tolerance in length, which is important if you’re cutting off the entire HDMI Connector and replacing it with a new connector. In a best case scenario you may have one wire that has become disconnected from the HDMI Connector. In a worst case scenario, the entire HDMI Connector is damaged and will need to be replaced.
The image to the left shows an example of a single wire (the red wire) that has broken away.
This could be caused by workmanship, or maybe excess stress was place on the HDMI Cable, causing it to break the solder connection. In this case we’re lucky because the HDMI Cable head is a metal casing that is screwed together over the HDMI Connector, and can be easily removed to access the wires underneath.
With a bit of precise soldering the broken wire can be reattached and the metal housing replaced and we’re in business.
In many cases, though, the HDMI Connector is hidden behind the plastic overmold and is not accessible without cutting away the plastic. If not done carefully, you may cause additional damage when trying to remove the Plastic. Also, if you have to cut away the plastic, you may not be able to replace it when completed. The end result will most likely be cosmetically less than desirable, but otherwise should be okay.
The image below shows a HDMI connector which has been damaged beyond repair. When the HDMI Connector is damaged beyond repair, the only option would be to attempt to replace the connector. The entire HDMI connector will have to be cut off and replaced with a new connector. This is the tough part.
As mentioned, replacing the HDMI connector requires very precise soldering with no room for error. Of course, it’s also necessary to make sure that you match the correct wire with the correct pin on the HDMI Connector.
Another product, an HDMI to Screw Terminal Connector, attaches the HDMI Connector to a circuit board with screw terminals, so that you don’t have to solder the wires but instead screw them into the terminal. The overall size is much larger than a standard HDMI Connector, and more expensive, but it removes the need to solder.
Audioquest, a well-known cable manufacturer showed a very promising HDMI Field Terminating kit which allows the HDMI Cable to be attached to their proprietary HDMI Connector using a crimp style connection, and no need for soldering. It’s also designed to work without stripping the out jacket away from the individual wires. Although we’re not sure, it seems that you have to use Audioquest HDMI Cables as well, so this may not be an option for replacing the HDMI Connector on an existing HDMI Cable. As of this writing, it does not seem that this is available for purchase.
BTX Technologies has since released a very similar field-terminating HDMI kit, but it’s very cost prohibitive (expensive), and it appears to only be available in bulk quantities.
As you can see, it is possible to repair a damaged HDMI Cable in some cases, but you have to ask yourself if it’s worth the effort. It’s not an easy task to take on, and there will be some expense along with no guarantees that it will be successful. If you can easily replace your damaged HDMI Cable with a new one, that’s a much easier and safer way to go. If you must repair it, keep in mind that you’re working with expensive Audio/Video components and if you’re not careful, you risk damaging more than just your HDMI Cable. If you decide to repair it, we recommend hiring a professional.
Disclaimer: This article is meant for informative purposes only. We do not recommend performing any type of electrical repair yourself, but rather contacting a professional to perform these repairs.