Any idea how I can get the broken off tip of a stereo headphone out of my phone's audio out jack?
February 29, 2012 5:57 PM   Subscribe

Any idea how I can get the broken off tip of a stereo headphone out of my phone's audio out jack?

The other day I had headphones plugged into my phone. The phone was dropped gently from a few feet and landed on the headphone plug. This apparently jammed it in there pretty good. I started trying to pull it out, and the plug broke and is stuck in the phone. Maybe kind of hard to picture but stereo headphones are in 3 sections, the end section is stuck in there.

There's sort of a "post" sticking out of it, that I can reach with a pair of tweezers but I can not grab it well enough to get it out. No way any needle nose pliers I have will fit in there.

I can put the headphones back in (and in fact they even work this way) so one thought I had was to put a tiny bit of some kind of adhesive in them, plug them in, wait for it to cure, and try to work it out. My fear there is that I will accidentally bond the rest of the plug to the jack itself and will never get it out
posted by RustyBrooks to Technology (25 answers total)
Toothpick dipped in superglue. Attach sticky tip to protruding plug. Wait until it sets. Remove the plug.
posted by cgc373 at 6:00 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think the tip is jammed in there pretty good. I'm not sure a tooth pick would present enough surface area, and might break trying to pull it out...
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:04 PM on February 29, 2012

If you think a toothpick might be too weak, you could try a paperclip, also tipped with a small drop of superglue.
posted by JiBB at 6:09 PM on February 29, 2012

If the tiny 'post' has a corresponding socket on the headphone jack where it separated, just put the superglue inside the hole. A tiny, tiny amount—just enough to get the end of the post and maybe spill over to the sides a smidge. Or, get a sip'n'stir straw (the tiny red ones), put the superglue inside that, and attach it to the post. Then the post pushes the glue back up into the straw, instead of ramming against the bottom of the hole and spewing out the sides.
posted by carsonb at 6:11 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you're worried about the toothpick not providing enough surface area, whittle down the butt-end of a wooden matchstick. In any case, the trick is to pull the toothpick or matchstick straight out, not at an angle, pulling in the direction of the wood's natural grain and greatest strength.
posted by jamaro at 6:12 PM on February 29, 2012

Drill into it carefully with a very tiny drill bit and use a very tiny screw extractor. A Dremel tool can give you the desired precision. Go slowly and hold the phone in a vise if you can.

I am hesitant to recommend this because it is electronic equipment, but a rare earth magnet will probably suck the plug right out. It may also scramble some circuits.

You can also try to take the phone apart. Some headphone jacks are not closed on all sides, which might give you a way to remove the plug.
posted by twblalock at 6:14 PM on February 29, 2012

This headphone jack is enclosed on all sides but my backup plan is to have someone replace it.

The first thing I thought of was an extractor but really that's impossible. The "post" is smaller than 1/8", there's no way I could drill a hole in that, and I've never seen an extractor remotely small enough.

I'll try super glue tomorrow perhaps (the headphones are at my office, I'm at home). I actually have a lot of adhesives around including several types of super glue (it comes in varying thicknesses, it's used as a finish for small turned items)
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:19 PM on February 29, 2012

Heh, by 1/8" I really mean less than 1/16" probably. Maybe about as thick as a paperclip.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:29 PM on February 29, 2012

If it's anything like the jacks I have seen, you might be able to use a straw as suggested above - with no glue. Just push the straw into the jack around the post - if you are lucky when you pull out the straw it will take the post with it...

I would stay away from the glue solutions unless you are very, very careful...
posted by NoDef at 6:34 PM on February 29, 2012

Hmm, I have some heat shrink tubing although I don't think I have anything that will go down that small. But I could acquire some. If I heat it enough to shrink it should hold on pretty tight.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:35 PM on February 29, 2012

If you do try the superglue route, get a q-tip with a cardboard stick, pull all the cotton off, and use the end of the q-tip stick to carry the teeny drop of glue.
posted by dilettante at 6:39 PM on February 29, 2012

You could try using some of those really fine tweezers for splinters at the same time as the super glue–I had the same problem today and that combo ended up working quite well for me.
posted by ooklala at 6:40 PM on February 29, 2012

The straw thing gave me an idea so I tried some electrical tape rolled into a tube, that I put over the post and then tried to get it good and adhered with some tweezers. No go though, doesn't hold on to it tight enough, just slides off.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:43 PM on February 29, 2012

Superglue is a no-go, at least with end-to-end joints. Breaks right off with a few pounds of pulling pressure. I am hopeful it might work with the broken headphones though since they would go around the post and have more area to bond with. (I tried a q-tip as recommended, and also the end of a bamboo skewer. Drilling a tiny hole in the skewer might be helpful if the headphones don't work, similar principle with more control.

I really do have all kinds of adhesives though, if something else would work better. JB weld, epoxy, loctite, super glue, wood glue, construction adhesive (ok, unlikely). I briefly considered soldering it to something but I doubt I could do it without doing some damage.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:58 PM on February 29, 2012

When you pulled on the electrical tape tube, did you just yank on the tube? Maybe get the tube on there, secure it with the tweezers, and then use the tweezers to pull. The tape might give them more traction than the metal-on-metal attempt.
posted by carsonb at 7:00 PM on February 29, 2012

Hm, that's a thought. The main problem with the tweezers was that they "slip" off the post when I try to pull.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:02 PM on February 29, 2012

Hm, I feel like this is promising but no luck so far. That sucker is really stuck in there.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:16 PM on February 29, 2012

Damn this is frustrating.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:21 PM on February 29, 2012

Another trick that has worked in the past for me…

Take a length of nylon whippersnipper / weedwhacker string or similar; something (a) plastic and (b) about the right diameter to be a loose fit in the jack. Straighten it out as much as possible, then cut one end square. Warm that end over a lighter flame just enough that it's barely soft (you don't want it melting and sticking to everything). Insert into jack and, when it bottoms out, keep the inward pressure on slightly while turning clockwise - the inner post of the plug is usually threaded, and usually breaks just above the end of the thread, so with luck you can screw the nylon cord onto the post.

Wait 5 minutes for it to cool, then withdraw the cord and (hopefully!) the end of the plug..
posted by Pinback at 7:24 PM on February 29, 2012

Long shot, but this happened to me once and it turned out the thing hadn't broken off. The tip piece had come unscrewed from the rest of the plug. I was able to put the rest of the plug in the socket and turn it clockwise and it caught the end and everything went well.

Can't hurt to check, anyway. Good luck.
posted by bink at 8:23 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Could you put glue on the tweezers, and clamp them while it cures?
posted by unmake at 9:03 PM on February 29, 2012

I had this problem for months with my MacBook Pro, and the only fix Apple had was to replace the whole logic board for a princely sum. The tip is made of soft metal, and a safety pin can be hammered into it with a shoe. Once securely hammered in, just pull it out!
posted by evariste at 10:27 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I tried all the stuff in this thread but that was the only thing that worked. I didn't have the skills to pull the drop of glue off.
posted by evariste at 10:28 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you can get your hands on a small hemostat it might work. They're basically megatweezers.
posted by hnnrs at 1:29 AM on March 1, 2012

Ahahahahaha. I super glued the plug back onto the post that was stuck in the phone. This was super effective! I pulled really hard and... it seperated at the 2nd section of the plug. It also wrecked the post of the 2nd plug pretty good, those aren't going back together.

At least I have something poking out the top now, so it's not all bad. I'll work on it more when I get home.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:37 AM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older Awwwkwaaarrddd   |   I may not be flat as a pancake, but the terrain... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.