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Why is my handpiece cutting in and out?

07/17/2014

It always happens when you are polishing those final few crowns to get them ready for delivery tomorrow - your handpiece cuts out on you. You wiggle the cord and it starts running again, only to have it cut out a couple of minutes later. If you are lucky you have another handpiece in the lab and are able to get the last bit of work done. But how do you find out what is going on with your handpiece and how to get it fixed?

Since Vacalon is the Schick Certified Repair Facility in North America we get a lot of calls about about this type of scenario from labs with a Microstar V-40 or one of the Schick C-Master handpieces. The first thing we always say is to stop using the handpiece. The reason we say this is because there is a good chance have a short in your cable, as they can wear out after years of use. If you continue to use the handpiece with a bad cable you run the risk of damaging the electronics found within the control box. If these components get damaged the costs can be steep to fix them. In fact, the damage can often be so costly that it makes repairing the unit cost prohibitive.

So how do you tell if your handpiece cable is in fact damaged? Start with a visual inspection and check for any cuts in the exterior protective cover. The cuts may be hard to see but they can still be quite deep, even cutting into one of the interior wires. Next, make sure you are wearing eye protection and then set the motor to run at about 10,000 rpm without the foot pedal connected. (Don't worry, running the handpiece for a short period under no load will not causes damages.) If the handpiece is running set it in the cradle and then start to work your way down one end of the cable, bending it gently it all directions as you run it through your hands. If you find a spot that causes it to stop or start running then you have found the culprit. A new cable can easily fix the problem and avoid further damage. We carry replacement cables and other parts for the Schick C1-Master, C2-Master, C3 Master and the Microstar V-40 over at our website.

Another question we get asked quite often is whether a handpiece cable can be repaired. While it certainly is possible it is in fact a terrible option. First, you are probably going to have a tough time finding the exact location of the short, so by the time you get done chopping up the cable you have done more harm than good. Next, if your cable is so worn out that that the wires are cracking or shorting out then it needs to be replaced because the problem will just reappear in a different spot. Finally, as we said above if you continue to run your handpiece and still have a short you are going to damage internal components of the control box, only to cost yourself much more money in the long run.

The main thing we want people to understand is that getting the problem fixed as soon as is appears is the wisest choice. This is not only true for the cable, but the entire handpiece. If you think one of the bearings is going out then it is best to fix it as soon as possible because continuing to run the handpiece can damage the motor or other internal parts. A relatively simple repair can turn into a complete overhaul in a short time.

If you have any question about your Microstar or Schick handpiece feel free to contact us and we are happy to help.