Removing thru hole components from two sided circuit boards

How to remove through hole components without a rework station.

We have all been faced with the task of pulling out a multi-pin thru hole (through hole) part from a double sided circuit board. Not a hard task to do if you have the right soldering re-work stations. But not everyone has that type of equipment, as it can be a rather large investment. Here is a way to remove a part using a simple soldering iron and solder wick. Add a couple of tools out of your tool box and you’re ready to go.

On this board today, we need to replace this dual row header as someone broke one of the pins off.

Since we are going to replace the part, there is no need to try and save it. It’s going in the junk anyway! We’ll start by making this particular process easier. Go ahead and cut all the pins off the header. Cut them flush to the insulator against the board as shown here:

Now that you have all the pins cut off we are going to push the plastic up and off the remaining portion of the pin. Here I am using a small blade screwdriver. However, when using a metal screwdriver, be aware where you are prying, as you don’t want to harm one of the copper traces.

Next hold the board on end and with a tweezer in one hand, grab the pin sticking out on the top side of the board. With your other hand, place the tip of your soldering iron in contact of the bottom side of the pin you are holding. Heat up the solder and remove the pin when the solder melts. Repeat this step for each of the pins for the connector.

Now that the pins are all removed, we have to clean the solder from the holes on the board.

This is where your desoldering braid comes in. I like to cut the end of the braid at an angle as such:

I like to do the angle cut so the solder wick is able to actually be placed down into the hole when heating the connection. This will allow us to wick out the remaining solder with much less work.

Continue on cleaning out all of the holes. Sometimes you will have to desolder both sides of the connection if it is being a little stubborn on opening up the hole. When done, your board will look like this:

Notice the flux residue on the board now. The last step is to clean up the flux from the board with some flux cleaner or even isopropyl alcohol will do a nice job. When completely cleaned, it will appear as such:

The same process can be used on thru hole IC’s (cut the pins on the body of the IC), female header connectors (you end up cutting away the plastic housing first), or other similar parts. Remember, you are not saving the old parts anyway, so they can be cut away and trashed.

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A small addition; If someone has the means, a solder sucker can be a big help- and a hot air rework tool can be a huge help to enable you to pull the whole connector at one time.