Zippers are among the most ubiquitous things in fashion. We grew up seeing and using them, and we barely take notice until one day, they stop working because they’re stuck.
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How Does a Zipper Work?
A zipper (also called a fly, zip locker, or clasp) is a special machine used mainly to secure fabrics or the opening of bags, wallets, purses, etc. Initially, zippers were called “hook-less fasteners,” but the name fell off, and “zipper” was used instead.
Zippers have a fastening mechanism. The fastening mechanism consists of a plow, the “hook” side, and the “hollow” side. Take a good look at an open zipper, and you will understand which one has hooks and which side has the hollow areas. The component or mechanism that locks and undoes the zipper is called the slide.
Zippers are efficient in securing bags and fabrics because it’s difficult to undo the latches once they’ve been paired securely with each point in the “hollow” side.
The offsetting done between the two sides ensures that each pair and hollow are latched sequentially. There must be consistency in the hooks and hollows’ size, so there will be flawless sequential locking. Otherwise, the zipper is considered damaged or defective, and there will be gaps in the zipper track when you close it.
There are several kinds of zippers in the market today. The coil zipper is the most common type of zipper, and as the name implies, it is comprised of a coil-type track that looks like ladders or spirals. Polyester is used for the production of modern coil zippers.
Invisible zippers are made in reverse, so the two sides of the zipper are hidden from view. Another name for this type of zipper is the concealed zipper, and it is often used for women’s fashion, to give the clothing a more seamless look even if it has a length of a zipper running through it.
People are most familiar with the metal zipper, which is used for heavier clothing types like jeans. Metal zippers are also used for pencil cases and similar products. Instead of a polyester coil, metal zippers have individually molded hooks and hollows that form a seamless and durable bond when the slider passes through to close the zipper.
Why Does a Zipper Become Stuck?
A zipper becomes stuck when the fabric or any other material gets in the way of a proper fit between hooks and hollows. There are also instances when the zipper track is derailed, and there is a mismatch between the two sides. Because the hooks have to enter the following from a certain angle, any change in the angle of entry can cause the track to become stuck.
Over time, this mismatch can damage the zipper track, and eventually, the two sides of the zipper will no longer close properly. That’s why it is important to fix a zipper when it comes stuck before any lasting damage on any side of the track.
How to Fix Stuck Zipper?
A stuck or broken zipper can prevent you from using any article of clothing. A stuck zipper is as good as a broken one because the zipper track won’t close, and there is a risk that the rest of the track will undo itself in the process.
Method 1: Find What’s Stuck
The most common obstructions in zipper tracks are a portion of the surrounding fabric or small fiber balls that have separated from the larger whole. If you see folded fabric or snags, gently pull on the snag while wiggling the wedge of the zipper until the wedge is freed. The wedge is the part of the zipper that moves through the zipper track. Stuck fabric is the number one cause of obstructed zippers. Luckily, it’s easy to correct this problem, so you shouldn’t be worried.
If you can’t find any obstructions, it is possible that the stuck section of either side of the track needs lubrication. Slight misalignment between the two sides can cause friction and temporary obstruction due to the change in the angle of entry, and therefore, a little lubrication might help move the track again.
When removing any obstructions in the track, remember to pull away from the point where the fabric is snagged. Don’t pull toward the other side of the track and don’t pull upward or downward. Doing so may damage the track, and this may permanently cause that section of the zipper to break. Zippers, despite their usefulness, are sensitive mechanisms with truly small parts, so you have to be careful.
After pulling out any obstruction, “practice” the track again by moving the wedge up and down, this will help clear any remaining debris in the track, and it will help realign both sides of the zipper.
To prevent future snags and folds, remove any loose threads surrounding the zippers. We also recommend ironing the zipper to set the track right again. Do not iron the teeth. Instead, glide the tip of the iron up and down the fabric that holds each side of the track.
Method 2 : Dry Lubrication
This technique might sound weird to some people, but it works well in many situations where the zipper’s wedge doesn’t want to move. Assuming that your zipper’s wedge is stuck, find a pencil with a good amount of graphite on the tip. Insert the graphite into each side of the wedge and rotate several times, so that graphite powder will fill the cavities. Continue doing this until you have a good amount of powder in the wedge.
The graphite will serve as a dry lubricant to encourage the wedge to slide up or down. If it doesn’t work the first time, add some more graphite and coax the wedge to move. If it doesn’t work, still, check the track for any obstructions, as even the smallest piece of fiber can cause a zipper track to fail.