How to Fix a Key Not Working On a Gaming Keyboard – Step by Step
There’s nothing more frustrating than being in the middle of a critical point in a game, but failing because one of your computer’s keys stops working. Sometimes a gaming keyboard stops working due to a driver or connection issue. But when you are struggling with one key not working, then there’s something else going on. In this article we’ll discuss how to fix a key not working on a gaming keyboard.
A key may not be working on a gaming keyboard due to dust, debris, or a problem with the function lock or number lock. The key may also be mapped incorrectly within a game. To fix the key, first, clean it out, make sure that the number lock and function lock are turned off, check if the key needs to be remapped within the game, and check the working status of the key’s internal switch.
Why Is My Keyboard Key Not Working?
If you’re having issues with several of your keyboard keys not working properly, this might be due to underlying driver issues. You can try rebooting and installing new drivers first to see if that’s the problem. However, if there’s a single keyboard key not functioning properly, it’s more likely an issue with that specific switch.
Common reasons a keyboard key may not be working include dust or debris under the key, the function lock or number lock is changing the function of the key, the key is not mapped for the correct action within a game, or the key’s switch is internally broken.
These could be the reasons why your keyboard key is not working:
Reason 1. Dust or Debris Is Under the Key
Dust and debris fall between the gaps of your gaming keyboard’s keys and can gunk them up. Due to the tiny space of the gaps, the debris and dust become trapped and compressed inside. This damages your keys over time and can stop them from functioning properly.
Most gaming keyboards like this one come with air intakes on the sides and the back, and sometimes on the bottom, so dust may not always cause a malfunctioning issue. But, if dust and debris stay trapped in there for a long time, and keep building up, it can make your keys stop working.
Reason 2. Function Lock or Number Lock Is Changing the Function of the Key
As this video by AddictiveTipsTV explains, when your keyboard is in function mode or number mode, it can cause issues regarding the actual functions of your other gaming keys. Being stuck on your gaming keyboard’s function lock or number lock can cause issues with the remaining keys’ actions. Your gaming keyboard keys might be doing the opposite of their intended action, or they might be interfering with your keyboard’s light setup.
Most gaming keyboards like this one also come with the function lock as default. If you’re a beginner, it can be intimidating if your new gaming keyboard keys aren’t working properly. The good news is that you only need to unlock it through the combination given by the keyboard’s manufacturer.
Reason 3. The Key Is Not Mapped For the Correct Action Within a Game
According to this article from Microsoft, if the connections between your drivers, computer, and keyboard are fine, then there might be issues with the mapping of keys on your gaming keyboard. Even if you are a novice gamer, you must figure out the correct mapping for the actions within the game. Otherwise, the keys won’t work correctly during the game.
This usually happens because of incorrect mapping within games creating unintended actions or faulty commands. But, the good thing is that you can easily learn how to reset your gaming keyboard mapping to your desired and required mapping. Keyboards like this can be configured to perform customized functions as our article about how to change gaming keyboard light settings explains.
Reason 4. The Key’s Switch Is Internally Broken
If you’re constantly having trouble with an unresponsive key on your gaming keyboard, chances are that there’s a faulty switch. The key’s switch may be stuck or internally broken altogether. Due to the faulty switch, your computer’s OS is probably not even getting a signal from your keyboard when you are pressing the broken key.
Similarly, if you're interested in learning what a gaming keyboard is, be sure to read our related article. It will provide you with a lot of useful information.
Can Mechanical Keyboards Be Repaired?
If you find that one or more of the keys of your mechanical keyboard are not working all is not lost as the keys of such a keyboard are relatively easy to fix.
Mechanical keyboards can be repaired. Simple fixes include cleaning the keys and changing the switches. To completely update a mechanical gaming keyboard, try out different cables, replace and update switches and batteries, and inspect and analyze the keyboard’s solder joints to have a completely fresh fix.
Mechanical keyboards like this one, use basic switches under the actual keyboard keys. This makes them more prone to breaking but they’re also easier to fix whether a single key isn't working or multiple ones aren’t. If you’re looking for suggestions for the best wireless mechanical keyboards, be sure to check out our article.
Similarly, you might also be wondering how to use a mouse and keyboard for Xbox cloud gaming. If so, be sure to read our related article for more information. Also, our article explaining the differences between keychron vs other keyboards will provide you with loads of additional tips and tricks as well.
How To Fix Mechanical Keyboard Keys Not Working Due to Dust or Debris
To fix a key not working on a gaming keyboard that’s mechanical, first try the easy fixes. Dust and debris that builds up within the gaps of your keyboard keys alter the proper functioning of the keys, cause damage, and ruin your gaming performance.
To fix mechanical keyboard keys that are not working due to dust or debris, clean the keys by pulling all the keycaps off, soak the keycaps, clean the naked keyboard, and then reassemble the keyboard.
There are step-by-step guides you can follow to clean your keyboard, depending on the nature of the buildup and who the keyboard manufacturer is.
Follow these steps to clean your mechanical keyboard:
Step 1. Pull All the Keycaps Off
To pull the keycaps off, use a good wire keycap puller like this one to prevent damaging your keycaps further. When pulling off the keycaps, make sure you are pulling straight and directly from the key’s switch, rather than using any other angle because that will damage your keycaps.
An easy way is to reach under the keycap of your keyboard’s desired key. To do this, you can use a small and flat-based screwdriver from a set like this as well. The purpose is to hold down the rectangular part that is under the keycap mounting post. Once you’ve got your part of the stem stable, you can use the keycap puller. It’s best to use it by applying pressure in a rocking upward motion. Continuing this motion, start at the edge of the key and then make your way toward the center.
Step 2. Soak the Keycaps
Once you’ve taken the keycaps off, put them aside and soak them in a bowl. Fill the bowl with lukewarm water and add some good dish-cleaning liquid like this. Mix the dishwashing liquid with keys, swishing them around in it. Leave the keys to soak in the cleaning mixture for at least ten minutes.
While you’re cleaning your keycaps, you may want to try cleaning your mouse and mousepad at the same time. Our article about how to clean a sticky mouse & mousepad could prove to be helpful, while our simple tips and tricks to clean a mouse provide the steps to thoroughly clean a gaming mouse to ensure it lasts a long time.
Step 3. Clean the Naked Keyboard
Now that your keycaps are being cleaned, you need to properly clean the surface under the keys, as explained in this instruction manual by Razer. Use Isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs to gently wipe the surface of the keyboard under the keys (but make sure the cotton swab isn’t too wet). If the dust and debris buildup is substantial, use an air compressor like this or a simple can of air to blow out the nasty buildup.
If there is still residue stuck under the keys, use a tweezer to pull out the buildup from the key switches. After you’re done cleaning the keyboard allow it to dry thoroughly, then give it a good brush with a keyboard brush like this one to freshen it up.
Step 4. Reassemble Your Mechanical Keyboard
Once your keyboard is cleaned, check on the soaked keycaps. Gently remove any dirt and debris. Dry them using a kitchen towel or paper towel. The keys must be completely dry before placing them back on the keyboard. If you don’t, water can seep into the keyboard and ruin it.
If you’re uncertain if they’re dry or not, set the keys on top of a dry towel and let them dry overnight. Once the keycaps are completely dry, place the keycaps back on the keyboard. Give it an overall brush, and your keyboard should be clean. A handy trick to help you remember where each key goes is to take a photo with your phone before disassembling the keyboard.
Mechanical Keyboards With Hot Swappable Keys That Are Easy to Clean
|Mechanical Keyboard Example
|Unzii Keynovo IF98 98 Gasket Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
|Has really nice keys that can’t be rubbed off since they aren’t printed on
|Rk Rotal Kludge RK100 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard
|Wireless for better mobility and range
|Cidoo 87 Keys Rgb Mechanical Keyboard
|Low profile design offers better comfort for long hours of gaming
|Roccat Vulcan 122 Mechanical PC Tactile Gaming Keyboard, Titan Switch
|Aluminum keyboard base offers better durability
How To Fix Unresponsive Keyboard Keys by Making Sure Function Lock and Number Lock Are Disabled
Unresponsive keyboard keys can be caused by several underlying problems. To fix them, try several different solutions like unplugging the keyboard and then plugging it back in, trying out a different cable with your keyboard, blowing out the unresponsive switch, updating the batteries and switches, or try sorting out your function lock and number lock.
To fix unresponsive keys, make sure that the function lock and number lock are disabled by pressing the appropriate keys on the keyboard.
Try these options to fix unresponsive gaming keyboard keys:
Option 1. Access the Function Keys
For this method, you need to locate the key which is shared with your function lock key, for example, the escape key or the shift key. You can confirm the shared key from the documentation of your hardware.
Once you locate the function lock key, hold it down with your fn key and release it after a while. This will disable the function lock if it was enabled earlier. As this article from HP.com explains, you can verify this if there’s a function lock indicator on your keyboard.
To disable the number lock on your keyboard, you need to follow the same steps and use the Fn key along with the number lock key, which might be a shared key as well.
Option 2. Use the BIOS Setting
If your computer has a BIOS setting that can control the number lock and function lock of your keyboard, you can use them as well for disabling the locks to try to restore the unresponsive keys on your gaming keyboard.
Although your BIOS version settings depend on your hardware manufacturer, you can access the documentation and attempt to change the behavior of the function lock and number lock. Reboot your computer and press the desired key to access the BIOS settings that control the status of the locks, then, you can disable the locks from the settings.
How To Fix a Key Not Working on a Gaming Keyboard Because It Is Mapped to the Wrong Function in a Game
An incorrectly mapped key on a gaming keyboard can be pretty annoying. But, once you have figured out the correct and the incorrect keys, it’s easy to remap or reset your gaming keyboard mapping within your game settings.
To fix a key that’s not working on a gaming keyboard because it’s mapped to the wrong function, reset it within the game settings. Figure out the keymap layout section, and then replace or reset the key from there. Ensure that the key functions are correctly assigned, and stay within the game’s required settings. Look for help in the documentation that came with the gaming keyboard.
Even if you’re a beginner, this article from Bu.edu will help you remap your keys and assign the correct functions to them.
Try these options to fix a key not working on a gaming keyboard because of incorrect mapping:
Option 1. Access the Keyboard’s Remap Key
Most gaming keyboards come with their own specific remap button on the keyboard itself, to help with these particular issues. If your gaming keyboard has a remap button, then all you need to do is hold it down, then press the key you want to remap, and then press the key that contains the function you want to assign to the key that you want to remap.
Option 2. Use Remapping Software To Remap the Key
If your gaming keyboard does not have a remapping button, see if your hardware came with remapping software. For example, Logitech provides its own remapping software, that helps you reassign the functions to your keys, within the game settings as well.
How to Repair an Unresponsive Key on a Gaming Keyboard Due to an Internally Damaged Switch
If the above methods aren’t fixing your dead key, chances are your key’s switch is broken. This makes it unable to send signals or operate correctly.
To fix an internally broken switch, the most effective solution is to replace the switch. Working with a mechanical keyboard makes this easier, as every key has a mechanical switch under it, which can be replaced individually using a puller or a solder.
According to this video tutorial by Kix, the best way to restore the switch is to check if the damage to the switch is manageable or if you’d need to replace the switch altogether.
Here is how you can repair an unresponsive key on a gaming keyboard:
Option 1. Replace the Switch Using a Puller
This method is recommended if your gaming keyboard is a hot-swappable one, which means you can use a puller. All you have to do is purchase a switch puller like this one to remove and replace the dead keys.
Option 2. Replace the Switch Using a Soldering Iron
If your mechanical keyboard doesn’t come with hot-swappable switches, replace the switches with a soldering iron like this one. Soldering is more complicated than using a puller, so if you’ve never done it before, you should take the keyboard to a computer shop to avoid any damage.
If you think you have the know-how to do it yourself, you can desolder the joint that is connecting the keyboard and the broken switch, replace that switch, and then solder in a new, working switch.
Troubleshooting a Key Not Working on a Gaming Keyboard
To correctly troubleshoot the specific key not working on your gaming keyboard, first, you need to gather accurate and descriptive information regarding the problem at hand. You can do this by running the troubleshooter on your computer to determine and review the potential causes, provide a plan of action for recovery, and even test solutions.
To troubleshoot a key not working on a gaming keyboard, run the keyboard troubleshooter on the computer. This may raise issues like physical damage to the keyboard, a corrupt or outdated driver, disappearing text, low battery, poor configuration, update or software bugs, and then filter malfunctioning keys.
This is how to troubleshoot and fix a key not working on a gaming keyboard:
Option 1. Run the Keyboard Troubleshooter on the Computer
Running a troubleshooter on your computer will not take much time and will help you solve your gaming keyboard’s malfunctioning key problems. You can easily run the keyboard diagnostics through the setup menu.
If you want a deeper analysis, you can also try using an online keyboard tester, as this video by OFW Nonoy explains, to test the functionality of your keyboard. But, you can easily restore your keyboard by getting to the root cause of the main issue, using the following troubleshooting steps.
Step 1. Switch to the On-Screen Keyboard
Before actually starting the troubleshooting on your computer, turn on your on-screen keyboard. This will help you follow the instructions and use the keys on your gaming keyboard.
Step 2. Run the Keyboard Troubleshooter
If your setup is based on Windows, then you are in luck. Your computer probably already has a troubleshooter that will help you diagnose the issues. This video by The Windows Club explains how to run the keyboard troubleshooter, access your settings, and locate the option for fixing your keyboard.
Running the troubleshooter will allow you to start detecting the keyboard issues. When the troubleshooter recognizes the issue of the unresponsive key on your gaming keyboard, it‘ll provide you with instructions on how to fix it or follow through with a quick and automatic fix.
Option 2. Update the Keyboard Driver
To fix a key not working on a gaming keyboard, another option is to update drivers. Outdated drivers are a common cause of unresponsive keys on your gaming keyboard. To update your keyboard drivers, you’ll have to know your way around your computer’s device manager. Follow the steps carefully and verify the updated keyboard driver afterward as well.
Step 1. Access the Device Manager
Once you have located the Device Manager of your computer, you need to search the hardware categories and select your keyboard to forward it to the update section, as explained in this article by Microsoft.
Step 2. Update the Driver
You can either update the keyboard driver automatically by checking for updates, and updating from there with the provided updates, or you can manually update the keyboard driver after selecting it from the device manager categories as discussed above. Follow the instructions provided to you in your driver tab, and your keyboard driver will soon be updated, and resolve the unresponsive keys issue
Option 3. Disable the Filter Keys
If your gaming keyboard has the usual Filter Keys, there may be a bug that is causing issues, making your specific keys unresponsive. It’s important to properly troubleshoot them. You can simply turn the filter keys off and then restore the unresponsive key.
Step 1. Access the Control Panel
Use the keyboard shortcut to access the run utility of your computer, and then open your Control Panel through that.
Step 2. Update the Filter Keys’ Settings
Once you’re in the Control Panel, make sure you’re in category view mode. Then, select the ease of access section. Click on the keyboard functionality settings, and from there you can disable your Filter Keys.
Similarly, you may be wondering what makes these gaming keyboards so expensive. If so, be sure to read our related article to find out more.
How To Fix a Mechanical Keyboard Key Not Working After a Spill
Don’t panic when you spill on your keyboard. You’re likely to have some unresponsive keys due to the spill, but that doesn’t mean it’s permanently damaged.
To fix a mechanical keyboard that’s not working after a spill, first, unplug it, dry it out, check the damage to the keycaps, and fix them.
According to this thread on Microsoft, there are solutions that you can try to restore the dead keys. If you follow proper care when restoring a dead key or an entirely dead keyboard, there’s a chance that it can be fully restored.
Step 1. Unplug the Keyboard
Take care of the keyboard immediately after the spill to prevent further damage. Quickly unplug it and flip the keyboard upside down to prevent the liquid from seeping into the key switches. Shake the keyboard and check if the water has completely run out of your keyboard.
Step 2. Dry the Keycaps
The best part about having a mechanical keyboard like this one is that you can easily pull off the keycaps. When you take them off the keycaps dry faster and you can remove the moisture from the inside of your keyboard. Wipe away any water or liquid on the keyboard once the keycaps are removed. Wash the keycaps to clean off any residue and leave them to dry fully before they’re placed back on the keyboard.
Step 3. Perform Extensive Troubleshooting
There’s still a slight chance that a specific key remains unresponsive even after you have performed the above steps. To solve this issue, perform extensive troubleshooting on your computer to figure out the problem.
And if nothing works to fix your keyboard, it may be time to retire it and purchase a new one. If you have a limited budget, here are our recommendations for the 10 best gaming keyboards under $200.