A tape measure comes in handy for new projects, quick fixer uppers, and maybe your next math test. But what if yours is busted? Talk about a frustrating way to kick off a job!
Luckily, it’s super easy to fix that broken tape measure. You just need the right tools and maybe a little bit of patience.
What You’ll Need
- Small screwdriver
- Compressed air or microfiber cloth
- Masking tape
- New spring (depends on your tape measure)
Open the Case
Use the right screwdriver, either a Philips or flathead, and open the back of the case. Be careful to not let the tape fall out and unwind by keeping your finger or a piece of masking tape on the top. You’ll have an even bigger mess if you don’t!
While the case is open, go ahead and dust inside with a microfiber cloth or can of compressed air. Who wants to worry about extra dust bunnies when you’re in the middle of a home improvement project?
Figure Out the Problem
Now’s the time for the official diagnosis. If the spring inside of your tape measure is unhinged, you might need to just readjust it or that dust could’ve been clogging things up. Worst case, the spring is completely broken and you need to replace it.
Remove the Tape
If you need to replace the spring, carefully remove the tape and disconnect it. Take it out slowly and be sure to hold the retraction system in place.
Replace the Spring
You should be able to buy a new spring at any hardware store, but call to check ahead of time. You can also contact the manufacturer directly to find out exactly what you need!
Put the Tape Back
It’s time to put your new spring to use! Connect the tape and then slowly roll it back into the case.
Close the Case
Grab that screwdriver and use it to put the case back on your tape measure. The last thing you want is for all your hard work to come apart at the end!
Get to Measuring
Take your tape measure on a test drive. It should now retract without any issues!
This process may not always eliminate the problem, so if all else fails, just buy a new tape measure. At least you gave it a valiant effort!
You can get a cheapie for as low as a $1 or a super industrial model for over $100. It just depends on your budget and how often you break your tape measures.
A Few Extra Pro Tips and Tricks
Before you starting fixing that tape measure, there are a few other things to keep in mind. Put these tidbits in your tool belt!
Make sure you wear protective gloves and glasses. You don’t want to lose an eyeball trying to fix your tape measure!
A small nail can be a great way to hold the spring in place so it doesn’t start unwinding.
Blades of Glory
The problem might be with the blade and not with the spring. Check and see if there’s any damage there before proceeding with each step.
Crank Up the Jams
Music makes every situation a little bit better. Put on some good tunes while you work before you start fixing your tape measure.
The Bottom Line
You’ve got some fixing to do! Don’t let a pesky tape measure issue get you down. After all, it’s the smallest snag you might run into during your next project!
Do It Yourself. (2019). How to Fix Your Tape-Measure Retraction System. Retrieved May 3, 2019, from
Shaddy, W. (2019). How to Fix a Tape Measure. Retrieved May 3, 2019, from
McCreary, R. (2019). Safety Precautions for Tape Measures. Retrieved May 3, 2019, from
Strutner, S. (2015, November 9). You’ve Probably Been Using a Tape Measure All Wrong. Retrieved May 3, 2019, from