Coil Zipper Slider
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Zippers are relatively inexpensive, but if the zipper fails, the garment may be unusable until the zipper is repaired or replaced. Problems often occur with the zipper slider, which can become worn and not properly align and join the alternating teeth. With separating zippers, the insertion pin can tear loose from the tape, and the tape can disintegrate from use. If a zipper fails, it can get stuck or partially break off. Worn or bent sliders can sometimes be fixed by using small pliers to carefully squeeze the back part of the slider together by a small amount.
Zipper sliders are often made of magnesium diecast, which is easily breakable. When the diecast slider’s protective coating has been worn off by prolonged usage, the material can corrode and produce metal salts that can accumulate and block the slider from moving. The salt can often be dissolved by submerging the slider in vinegar or another mild acid. If this does not work, the slider likely needs to be removed and replaced.
Having trouble with your zipper? Use our Zipper Identification tool to identify and help diagnose your zipper.
Background and Identification
A zipper, zip, fly, dingy, or zip fastener (previously known as a clasp locker) is a common device for binding the edges of an opening of fabric or other flexible material, such as on a piece of clothing or a bag. Zippers are used in clothing, luggage, bags, sporting goods, camping gear, and other items. Zippers come in various sizes, shapes, and colors, and function based on interlocking teeth. Initially, the zipper was called the “hookless fastener.” The name “zipper” came from the sound that the device makes when used, a high-pitched zip.
Similar to snaps, zippers are used to fasten two sections of material together. Unlike snaps, zippers form a complete closure between the two sections using interlocking teeth, pulled together or separated by means of a plastic or metal zipper pull. Zippers fail in several places and consequently repairs range from replacing a slider to replacing the whole zipper.
Most zippers consist of two rows of protruding teeth which are made to interdigitate, linking the rows. Zippers can carry tens to hundreds of specially shaped metal or plastic teeth. Teeth can be individual or shaped from a continuous coil and are sometimes called elements. The slider, which is generally operated by hand, slides along the rows of teeth. The slider includes a Y-shaped channel that brings together or separates the two rows of teeth, depending on the direction of the slider’s movement.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the components of a zipper?
Introduction to Zipper Types and Slider Identification
How to easily repair a zipper?
To fix a zipper on a bag, start by removing the old zipper slider (the part that moves) off of the zipper itself. Bring the slider to the top of the zipper and remove the zipper stop by separating it with pliers. You can also use a seam ripper to remove fabric stitching, if necessary. Slide off the old slider and put a new one on from the top of the zipper, making sure the zipper slider’s nose is facing towards the top of the zipper. Attach a new zipper stop (or replace the old one) using pliers.
How to Fix a Broken or Separating Zipper
How to tell if you need a zipper slides replacement or a full zipper replacement
How to stop zipper teeth from reluctantly closing?
If the zipper on your bag or suitcase is hard to close, the teeth may be wearing out. Try slightly lubricating the teeth using petroleum jelly or candle wax, but be sure that the lubricant does not clog up the zipper’s teeth. If the zipper is stuck, try applying a dab of liquid laundry detergent with water as a lubricant. Zip a cotton ball into the detergent and water solution and coat the zipper’s teeth with it. If the zipper only moves a little bit, return it to its original position and repeat the process until the zipper moves smoothly and freely. Pencil graphite can be used for a similar process, rubbing the tip of the pencil on the zipper’s teeth until the zipper moves freely. If the zipper is still stuck after lubricating it, throw the item in the washing machine (if possible) to remove dirt and debris that might be causing the zipper to stick.
How to Fix a Variety of Stuck Zippers
How to repair a zipper with missing bottom teeth?
To repair missing bottom teeth on a zipper, remove the bottom stop of the zipper using pliers. Then, remove the tack at the base of the zipper by flipping the item inside-out and removing the tack with a seam ripper. Insert a new, larger bottom stop that covers the missing teeth, and push the prongs of the bottom zipper stop into the fabric above the old zipper stop. Use pliers to close the prongs and secure the stop in place. Turn the item right-side-out and use a sewing machine or needle and thread to re-tack the bottom portion of the zipper above the location of the missing teeth.
How to Replace a Zipper Slider
How to fix an off-track zipper?
The best way to fix off-track zippers may depend on the type of zipper you are dealing with. In many cases, you can align the zipper’s teeth and pull the slide all the way down, then jimmy the slide back on the zipper. Once the slide is back on, it is a good idea to stitch or glue the bottom few teeth to prevent the slide from coming off of the zipper in the figure. If the slide has become worn and does not hold the teeth in proper alignment, gently squeeze the slide with pliers to tighten the alignment.
How to Fix a Zipper on One Side of the Track
How to replace a zipper insertion pin?
To replace a zipper insertion pin, start by cutting the broken insertion pin off of the zipper. If the pin is missing, cut off the frayed fabric, but be sure not to cut the zipper teeth. Next, find an article of clothing with a zipper that is no longer in use with an insertion pin the same length as the broken or missing one. It does not matter if the new insertion pin is plastic or metal. Cut the working insertion pin off of the zipper from the old clothing, but avoid cutting the plastic square backing or too much material (you need enough fabric to sew). Line up the new insertion pin on the broken clothing and sew the insertion pin into place using a needle and thread. Then, test the zipper.
How to stop my zipper from falling down?
If your zipper unzips itself, the zipper slide may be broken and need to be replaced. See “How to easily repair a zipper?” above to learn how to replace a broken zipper slide.
Can you replace a tooth on a zipper?
To stop the slider from coming away from the zipper again, you must replicate the effect that the tooth had. You can use a small U section cut from the middle of a Q-tip (also called a cotton bud) or a small brass clip. Then, sew the U piece in position and use a thimble or some pliers to get the needle through the zipper’s plastic. There are also sewing kits available designed to help users replace missing teeth, including FixnZip, which does not replace the missing zipper teeth, but realigns the surrounding teeth, making the zipper functional again.
How to fix a broken fly on jeans in an emergency?
In a pinch (meaning you do not have access to sewing supplies) you can use staples or safety pins to pin the fly shut. Also, try taking the jeans off and see if you can coax the slider back onto the zipper; you will most likely need to take the slider past the bottom of the zipper or force it up and down several times. Once you get the slide back on the zipper, use a key ring or something similar and loop it through the hole at the end of the slide. Then, hook the ring over the jean’s button, and button the pants closed.