How to Fix Your Tape-Measure Retraction System

extended tape measure on raw wood plank
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-20
What You'll Need
Phillip's or slotted screwdriver
Masking tape
New spring
What You'll Need
Phillip's or slotted screwdriver
Masking tape
New spring

Whether you’re measuring the size of your room for a new carpet or space for a new garage rack, tape measures are handy for a variety of tasks. They even have some lesser-known uses, from diet tracking to weighing objects. However, when the retraction system in one of these tools stops working, you might be tempted to trash it and purchase a new one. Instead, easily fix the retraction system with these steps.

Step 1 - Open the Case

Use a small screwdriver to open the case. Be careful with the contents inside after the case is open, as you do not want the tape and the system to fall out of the case and unwind. To prevent this, keep your finger on top or use a small piece of masking tape to keep everything in place.

Step 2 - Look Inside

Take a look inside the case to see if there is a simple problem with the retraction system. For example, the spring might be undamaged but unhinged from the tape, or there might be dirt clogging the spring. If it’s an easy fix, remove the dirt or reinsert the spring, and then proceed to the sixth step to close the case.

Step 3 - Remove the Tape

tape measure on a piece of lumber

If the problem runs deeper than a bit of debris, you will have to remove the tape to observe the retraction system. Take the tape slowly out of the case, holding the retraction system in place. Once the tape is completely out, disconnect it from the spring.

Step 4 - Replace or Fix the Retraction System

If the spring is broken, disconnected, or damaged, you will need to replace it with a new one. You can purchase a new part at the same store you bought your tape measure from. Make sure you have the model number and size when you go to the store to get the exact fit.

Step 5 - Put the Tape Back

After replacing the spring, connect the tape to the spring by putting the end of the spring into the hole at the start of the tape. There is usually a part connected with tape. Use some masking tape to put it back together. After you’ve secured the connection, let the tape roll slowly back into the case.

Step 6 - Close the Case

Having tested the retraction system by letting the tape roll in, you have successfully repaired your retraction system. Now, remove the masking tape keeping the system inside the case, and reattach the top cover with the screwdriver. Your measuring tape should retract again properly.

If, after completing this guide, your tape measure still doesn't work properly, consider purchasing a new one or upgrading to a laser tape measure for reading at a distance.