A New Way to Repair Damaged Cable Casing

In the relentless pursuit to make sound equipment for theatre smaller and less discernible to the audience, lavaliere microphones have become increasingly delicate. After the wear and tear of multiple performances, a common condition to arise is a split or shredded wire casing on an otherwise completely useful and expensive lavaliere microphone. As long as the internal wiring is still intact, there are couple options available to quickly repair the casing and get the mic back into the show rotation. We will discuss the cons of some conventional repair methods, and then I’ll suggest an alternative repair method that effectively resolves some of these issues.

This repair works on headphones, USB cables, and Mac and iPhone chargers.

If you have come across this article in search of repair methods for other types of cables, you have still come to the right place.  Even though I developed this repair method while fixing microphones, I’ve discovered that this repair works on other types of cable as well, including headphones, USB cables, and Mac and iPhone chargers. In short, any cable with an external casing separate from the core should be a good candidate for this repair method.


Problems with Conventional Repair Methods


Here are a few conventional repairs to the cable casing, all which have issues with durability or and/or feasibility for use in the unique setting of a theatrical performance:

Tape:

While tape is the quickest way to repair cable casing, it is undoubtedly a temporary fix. Over a short period of time, either from continuous bending or moisture, the adhesive material on tape starts to give way, exposing the wiring to to further twisting and damage.

Heat Shrink:

Shrink tubing can effectively immobilize the weakened point in the cable, but the result is an inflexible portion that cannot conform with the movement of the cable. It can also be difficult to fit the appropriate size shrink tubing if neither end of the cable detached from a connector.

Putty:

Newer hardening putties resolve the requirement of having a free end on the cable, and it is a more permanent solution than tape, but it is bulky. It works for consumer products like fixing a Macbook charger, but it serves no purpose as a professional theatrical repair.


My Solution: Rubberized Coating.

It is flexible, waterproof and cost effective. If you buy the right brand, it is even durable and paintable.



How to Repair a Cable Using Flexible Rubber Coating


Here are a few simple steps you can follow to make a permanent, cost effective repair that will retain the slimline appearance and flexibility of the original cable.


  • Connector.

    Buy Flexible Rubber Coating

    Head to the paint aisle at your local hardware store. I recommend Rust-oleum LeakSeal Flexible Rubber Coating. There are other spray coat brands available on the market like Plasti-dip or Flexi-dip, but these products are designed to be removable. I’ve found that Rust-oleum brand seems to hold up better without peeling.

  • Connector.

    Remove Old Wire Casing

    Prep the cable by cutting off any excess cable casing that does not lay flat against the internal wires. Loose casing will get in the way once you apply the rubberized material, so removing it ahead of time will prevent bulging in the finalized repair.

  • Connector.

    Spray Material on Scrap Board

    Use a piece of cardboard or scrap paper and spray the rubberized material onto it in a small spot until you have about a 1/8″ of accumulation. It doesn’t take much, so you can get many uses out of a single spray can.

  • Connector.

    Roll the Cable in the Material

    Roll the cable in the material until you have even and complete coverage over the damaged area. If there is only minor damage, you can spray directly onto the cable and still get sufficient coverage, but be sure the turn the cable and spray all sides. Again, completely surrounding the cable with the rubberized material will help the repair last much longer.

  • Connector.

    Suspend the Cable and Let it Dry

    Leave the cable to dry overnight, preferably by suspending it away from touching any surface. I found it easy enough to suspend the damaged portion over two Sharpies, but you can even hand the cable off the edge of a table if you have nothing else.


After a night to thoroughly dry, the repair should be complete.  The final product should appear milky but translucent, and should be completely surrounding the damaged area.

 

That’s all there is to it.  Your previously damaged cable is now durable, paintable, protected from twisting and corrosive moisture, and maintains its original flexibility.

About the Author

Daniel Warneke

Dan is the owner and sound designer at Frontier Audio, a full-service audio company providing services in sound design, post-production editing and mixing, and studio/location recording services. He also runs Frontier Sound FX, providing personally recorded and designed effects in stock libraries for use in audio post-production.

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