This will manifest itself in any of a wide range of possibilities. The tip could fail to deliver any heat to the solder, deliver insufficient heat, and deliver inconsistent levels of heat and so on. If this happens, you may have handled your tip incorrectly while soldering or it may have been of bad quality. However, these problems have possible solutions that should work if the tip is indeed the only problem within the soldering iron - http://www.amazon.com/iCooker-Soldering-Iron-Watt-Solder/dp/B01774KARE.
This is done using brass sponges, regular sponges, tinning and application of solder. Depending on your preference, any of the above-mentioned methods will work just perfectly. However, using a wet regular sponge is advised against die to the rapid cooling that the tip undergoes. This causes rapid contraction of the tip which will eventually damage the tip. The brass sponge seems to be the best measure in maintaining a soldering tip’s perfect working condition. Simply brush the tip against the sponge for a few seconds until it reveals a shiny surface.
If your tip is already in a bad condition though, the metal oxides have probably formed a layer over it thus preventing the transfer of heat. In this case, wrap some solder on the tip and preheat it to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This should cause the solder to reach flow. Stop heating the tip and allow cooling. Wipe off the excess solder and your soldering tip should be as good as new. In extreme cases however, the damage to the tip may be severe thus making it necessary to replace. This often happens with the continued use of wet regular sponges to clean the tip.
Once in a while, you may experience an electric shock transmitted to the solder by the soldering iron. This, if left unattended could degenerate into larger amounts of current every time posing a higher level of risk. The causes of this are quite a number and may range from a faulty earth connection in your power system to an entirely faulty soldering iron. If you have a faulty earth wire connection, then this poses risk to you in your usage of electrical appliances. This should be immediately checked and repaired by a qualified electrician. Ensure you do not operate any electrical appliance while this remains unsolved.
The other possible scenario is a faulty soldering iron. There could be elements within the iron that are coming into contact while they normally should not. Solving this may involve opening up the iron and troubleshooting it piece by piece. If you do this and still do not nail the problem, well, it may be time to let go of your soldering iron and purchase another one. This often happens in poor quality irons or those that have been used for an extremely long period of time.
Unlike other minor soldering iron defects, if the iron tip is causing mild shocks, it points to a potentially large problem and should thus be handled with extreme caution. While troubleshooting potential causes for this, pay attention to the thermostat, the heating element and all points where live wires are soldered or fixed into. Ensure that all contacts should be as they are and that no wires are exposed at points they should not be. Diagnosing you house’s electrical connection may however be a little bit more complicated and will require a skilled and qualified electrician.
The heating element is the part that converts the electrical power into heat and transfers it to the soldering tip. Depending on the type of soldering iron, this is mostly found right above the grove where the soldering tip sits. A faulty heating element will in most cases be shown by lack of sufficient heat delivery from the tip, inconsistent heat supply or a cold soldering tip with no heat at all. Before concluding on a faulty heating element, ensure that you’ve checked all other possibilities and discounted them from the possibilities of failure. This is due to the fact that heating elements can only be replaced and not repaired. To perform checks, follow the following steps:
This can be done by plugging in another household appliance and testing for functionality. If the other appliance works, then the power source is okay and you may proceed to the next component.
This can be done using a common household electrical current tester. You should expose a small area of the wire, preferably near the handle to ensure that the cord is transferring electrical current. Dot this for all components that the current passes through before it reaches the heating element. If the tester shows positive results for current flow, then the heating element is definitely the problem. However, if current does not reach the heating element, then another component and not the element is the problem. Replacing the heating element is relatively easy and only involves unscrewing the old element and screwing in the new one. Take care not to damage the screws since continued exposure to heat makes them brittle.