Nothing is more devastating to a record collector than when one of your beloved pieces is found warped and unable to play its beautiful music on your turntable. Sometimes no matter how careful we are with our vinyl record collection, things can happen that warp the vinyl. What causes warped vinyl? How can we fix warped records? What steps can we take to make sure it does not happen again in the future?
Why Do Records Get Warped
Most often the cause of a warped record is due to improper storage and sometimes when we buy records from other collectors, people can be careless in storing them in damp basements. Others think they can store their records without sleeves and leave them bare to collect oil, dust and dirt. And try as we might, sometimes we store our records in places we know we should not store them. We all make mistakes and we are only human after all.
The second well-known cause for warped vinyl records is the potential for accidental exposure to a heat source. Sometimes people store their vinyl record collection in sun rooms that heat easily. Sometimes they store their records in places that are directly accessible to absorbing abrupt changes in temperature such as a room furnace, water heaters in basements or heating and air conditioning systems in their houses. If possible, it’s best to keep your records and turntable away from these areas in your homes.
The third and most unfortunate cause of a warped record is due to age and as much as we love vintage records and how the music sounds, sometimes repetitive play and in combination with one of the two aforementioned causes can warp the vinyl as well.
But fortunately, there are many methods to fixing warped vinyl that can help restore the life of our records to continue playing in the future.
This is one of the best ways for you to repair your warped record. But remember, although the following method might flatten your record, it could potentially damage the grooves and add distortion to the vinyl.
It is recommended to first assess the warp in your record and consider if this is the best method for your record before you commit to this method. If it is a tiny warp in the record, follow the tutorial through to Step Two and it may fix the warp.
If the warp is more severe, this brief tutorial will correct the warp in your record.
How to fix warped records | What you will need
The following list of tools is what you will need to complete this easy tutorial on how to fix warped records:
- Warm Water
- Basin or sink
- Dish soap (any kind may work)
- Optional: Record cleaning solution
- Record Cleaning Brush / Pad
- Dry Washcloths
- Conventional / Electric Oven
- Two Glass Panels
- Flat Heavy Objects (Coffee Table Books)
How to fix warped records | Step by step instructions
If you proceed with the following steps, this tutorial will help restore your vinyl record to its original shape and you will be able to put it back on your turntable and play it again in no time.
step one: clean the record
Make sure your record is clean. The easiest way to clean your record is by using soap, water and a record brush. If the record only has a small amount of dust, it’s best to brush it off with a carbon fiber brush but it’s recommended to give the record a good soak to make sure it’s truly clean.
Fill a basin with warm, soapy water (any brand of dish soap will do).
Place the record in the water by handling the edges to ensure no damage is done to the grooves.
Once the record is soaked, take the record brush and wet it.
Hold the record with one hand and move the brush in a circular motion over the record’s surface. Use caution and be sure not to scrub over the label.
Once the one side is clean, flip the record over and repeat.
Once it is clean, run cold water over the record to rinse it off.
Grab a washcloth and hold the record in your palm as you use another washcloth to dry it. Dry the one side and then flip it over and dry the other side.
If you want to know more about cleaning records, check out our full guide about how to clean vinyl records.
step two: place the record between two glass panels
This step will help your vinyl record return to its original shape when it is in the oven. It will help prevent it from melting under the warm temperatures.
Take your record and place it between two glass panels that will cover the entirety of the record.
It’s recommended that you use two large glass cutting boards as they are most commonly used for this step.
Handle your record with care, place it in the middle of one of the glass panels and then sandwich it between the two by placing the other glass pane on top of the record.
You can refer to the Youtube video by Jaidon Rymer to help you with this step:
step three: place the record in the oven
CAUTION: Glass can shatter when it experiences high temperatures. Make sure that your glass panels are at room temperature before placing it in the oven.
Preheat your oven to warm or 175 degrees Fahrenheit (or 80 degrees Celsius).
With oven mitts, slide the two panels of glass with your record inside, into the oven.
Be sure to watch your record and make sure it does not melt. If you smell a funny odor or if you hear any strange noises coming from the oven, remove your record immediately.
Otherwise, you should be able to keep your record in the oven for approximately 2 or 3 minutes.
Step four: Remove the record and add pressure
This step will help ensure that your record stays flat and does not create any mysterious grooves or scratches in the vinyl and will help return it to its original shape.
Grab two flat heavy objects. Heavy coffee table books are recommended for this step.
Do not remove the record from the glass panels.
Place the heavy books/objects on top of the glass until the record cools completely.
Once the record is cool, you can remove it from the glass panels.
how to fix warped records | Extra Tips
Once your vinyl record is cooled. You can play it and see if the process has helped correct the warp. If the warp is still there, you can repeat the process.
If the vinyl record is slightly warped, you do not need to put it in the oven. You can simply sandwich it between two large and heavy books to cover the record and try to flatten it. The pressure from the books help with the impairment. But make sure it is clean first.
Store vinyl records away from heat sources such as sunrooms, furnaces, water heaters or heating/air conditioning vents.
To ensure future handling and care of your vinyl record collection, it is best to handle records by the edge and the label. The oil from your hands and fingertips attract dirt and “glue” it to the vinyl.
Make sure you maintain a cleaning regimen for your records and turntable including the stylus. Make sure all records are stored in sleeves made of paper, plastic or wax to prevent future scratches. Plastic or wax paper sleeves are the most recommended and can be purchased online.
If you have pets, do not leave vinyl records out and unattended. Their paws, claws and hair can potentially damage the vinyl with scratches. It is recommended for you to place your records on a high shelf, preferably in a cabinet or on a high shelf to prevent them from being knocked over.