4 Common Issues in PCB or PCB Pads and How to Fix

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Introduction to PCB Troubleshooting

Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are essential components in modern electronics. They provide a platform for mounting and interconnecting electronic components, enabling the creation of complex circuits. However, PCBs can sometimes encounter issues during the manufacturing process or during use, leading to malfunctions or failures. In this article, we will explore four common issues that can occur in PCBs or PCB pads and provide practical solutions for troubleshooting and fixing these problems.

Common PCB Issues and Their Solutions

1. Solder Bridges

Solder bridges are one of the most common issues encountered in PCBs. They occur when excess solder inadvertently connects two or more pads or traces that should not be connected. Solder bridges can cause short circuits, leading to malfunctions or even damage to the PCB or connected components.

Causes of Solder Bridges

  • Excessive solder application
  • Improper soldering technique
  • Insufficient spacing between pads or traces
  • Contamination or debris on the PCB surface

How to Fix Solder Bridges

  1. Identify the affected area using a magnifying glass or microscope.
  2. Apply flux to the solder bridge to help the solder flow.
  3. Use a soldering iron with a fine tip to carefully remove the excess solder.
  4. If necessary, use solder wick or a desoldering pump to remove the solder bridge.
  5. Clean the area with isopropyl alcohol to remove any residue.

2. Lifted or Damaged Pads

Lifted or damaged pads can occur during the soldering process or due to physical stress on the PCB. When a pad lifts or becomes damaged, it can compromise the electrical connection and lead to intermittent or complete failure of the associated component.

Causes of Lifted or Damaged Pads

  • Excessive heat during soldering
  • Improper handling or stress on the PCB
  • Poor adhesion between the pad and the PCB substrate
  • Insufficient pad size or thickness

How to Fix Lifted or Damaged Pads

  1. Assess the extent of the damage to determine the best course of action.
  2. If the pad is partially lifted, carefully apply flux and solder to reattach it to the PCB.
  3. If the pad is completely lifted or missing, consider the following options:
  4. Jumper wire: Solder a small wire from the component lead to the corresponding trace.
  5. Epoxy and wire: Apply conductive epoxy to the damaged area and attach a wire to bridge the connection.
  6. PCB Repair kit: Use a specialized PCB repair kit to replace the damaged pad.
  7. Clean the area thoroughly to remove any residue or debris.

3. Dry Joints

Dry joints, also known as Cold Solder joints, occur when the solder fails to properly bond with the pad or component lead. This can happen due to insufficient heat, improper solder application, or contamination. Dry joints can cause intermittent connections or complete failure of the affected component.

Causes of Dry Joints

  • Insufficient heat during soldering
  • Improper solder application or insufficient solder
  • Contamination on the pad or component lead
  • Oxidation or tarnishing of the surfaces to be soldered

How to Fix Dry Joints

  1. Identify the affected joint using visual inspection or continuity testing.
  2. Apply flux to the joint to help the solder flow and remove oxides.
  3. Reheat the joint with a soldering iron, ensuring sufficient heat is applied.
  4. Apply additional solder if necessary to create a proper bond.
  5. Clean the area with isopropyl alcohol to remove any residue.

4. Incomplete or Missing Connections

Incomplete or missing connections can occur due to various reasons, such as design errors, manufacturing defects, or damage during handling. These issues can result in open circuits, preventing proper functioning of the PCB.

Causes of Incomplete or Missing Connections

  • Design errors or omissions in the PCB layout
  • Manufacturing defects, such as etching issues or incomplete plating
  • Physical damage to the PCB or traces
  • Improper component placement or soldering

How to Fix Incomplete or Missing Connections

  1. Verify the PCB design and compare it with the actual board to identify any discrepancies.
  2. Inspect the affected area closely to determine the cause of the issue.
  3. If the connection is incomplete due to a manufacturing defect, consider the following options:
  4. Jumper wire: Solder a wire to bridge the gap between the affected points.
  5. Conductive paint or epoxy: Apply conductive material to create a connection.
  6. PCB trace repair kit: Use a specialized kit to repair or reconstruct the missing trace.
  7. If the issue is due to improper component placement or soldering, carefully remove and resolder the component.
  8. Test the PCB to ensure proper functionality after the repair.


1. What tools do I need for PCB troubleshooting?

Some essential tools for PCB troubleshooting include:
– Soldering iron and solder
– Desoldering pump or solder wick
– Flux and isopropyl alcohol for cleaning
– Multimeter for continuity testing
– Magnifying glass or microscope for visual inspection
– Tweezers and fine-tipped pliers for handling components

2. How can I prevent solder bridges?

To prevent solder bridges, follow these tips:
– Use the appropriate amount of solder
– Maintain proper spacing between pads and traces
– Apply solder carefully and avoid excessive heat
– Keep the PCB clean and free from contamination
– Use solder masks or resist to protect areas prone to bridging

3. Can damaged PCB pads be repaired?

Yes, damaged PCB pads can often be repaired using various techniques, such as:
– Reattaching partially Lifted Pads with solder and flux
– Using jumper wires to bridge connections
– Applying conductive epoxy or paint to create new connections
– Replacing the damaged pad using a PCB repair kit

4. What causes dry joints, and how can I prevent them?

Dry joints are caused by insufficient heat, improper solder application, or contamination. To prevent dry joints:
– Ensure the soldering iron is at the correct temperature
– Apply sufficient solder and heat to create a proper bond
– Clean the surfaces to be soldered to remove oxides and contamination
– Use flux to improve solder flow and remove oxides

5. How do I identify incomplete or missing connections on a PCB?

Incomplete or missing connections can be identified through:
– Visual inspection of the PCB using a magnifying glass or microscope
– Comparing the PCB with the design schematic or layout
– Conducting continuity tests using a multimeter to check for open circuits
– Performing functional tests to detect any anomalies or malfunctions


PCB troubleshooting is an essential skill for anyone working with electronic circuits. By understanding common issues such as solder bridges, lifted pads, dry joints, and incomplete connections, you can effectively diagnose and fix problems in PCBs. Remember to use the appropriate tools, follow proper techniques, and take necessary precautions to ensure successful repairs.

With patience, practice, and attention to detail, you can overcome the challenges of PCB troubleshooting and ensure the reliable operation of your electronic devices. By addressing these common issues promptly and effectively, you can save time, reduce costs, and improve the overall performance of your PCBs.