Does your gaming keyboard have a dead key? Here’s how to fix it

Close up of gaming keyboard being used
(Image credit: Parilov / Shutterstock)

There are several things that can go wrong with a gaming keyboard. Even the best keyboards can experience such issues. Replacing the entire peripheral is obviously not always wallet-friendly. Hence, we need to know the right hacks for the most common issues that gaming keyboards face. 

Some of these issues include the entire keyboard becoming unresponsive, key presses causing repeats, or keyboard shortcuts not functioning correctly. Jammed keys, dead keys, and sticky keys are other common issues among gaming keyboards, especially mechanical keyboards. Keyboard backlighting or RGB lighting not working properly or the key presses responding slower than usual are also fairly common problems.

This article focuses on one of these problems: dead keys. 

There could be a number of reasons behind your gaming keyboard’s keys not responding properly. A bad connection to your computer is one of the most probable reasons that you should rule out before anything else. Regardless of whether you have a wireless keyboard or a traditional wired one, the first thing to do is check if there are any issues with its connection. Weak batteries are another possibility. Try replacing the batteries, and see if that fixes the issue.

However, if a bad, poor, or broken connection or weak batteries is the cause, then your entire gaming keyboard won’t respond properly. If it’s only a single key that has stopped working, then chances are that there’s a problem with that specific key. It is possible that that particular switch is simply stuck or jammed. But, it’s also likely that it’s internally broken or has dirt stuck under it.

If your beloved gaming keyboard has a dead key, you don’t necessarily have to chuck it in the bin and buy a new one. Below are the possible fixes for it.

1. Restart your gaming keyboard

A pretty basic fix is to restart your gaming keyboard. This is also the most common troubleshooting advice for any peripheral that suddenly stops working, and in most cases, it helps. While there are greater chances of this working in a situation where your entire gaming keyboard stops functioning, it’s worth trying for a specific key as well. 

Simply disconnect your gaming keyboard’s wireless connection with your computer or unplug it if it’s a wired one. Then see if it works when you connect it.

2. Clean your gaming keyboard

Clean your gaming keyboard

(Image credit: Shutterstock / MEzairi)

Debris often interrupts gaming keyboard functions by causing specific keys to get stuck or jammed. Often, things such as food particles make their way inside keyboard keys and cause issues. Another quick and fairly simple fix is to flip the keyboard and lightly tap its back to have whatever is stuck inside come out. 

Oftentimes, things such as food particles make their way inside keyboard keys and cause issues. If the stuck object comes out this way, that’s great. If this doesn’t work, though, you can try using a paper clip to resolve the problem. Simply unfold it and try to gently insert it under the key from all four sides. A paper clip can unlodge things that are stuck or inaccessible.

If both of these ways don’t work, your best bet is to clean your keyboard using canned air. You can buy a can of canned air for as low as $5. You’ll want to first try blowing the air close to the key that isn’t working. If that doesn’t solve the issue, you would have to take the key cap out (more on this later) and blow on the inside of the key. You can do this using a thin straw that usually comes with a can of compressed air. If you are lucky, this will fix the issue.

3. Replace the dead key

If both of the aforementioned ways don’t work, you might have to replace the switch of the dead key. If you own a hot-swappable keyboard, it is very easy to do this. You can simply pluck the dead key out and replace it with another using the appropriate tool. It is quick, simple, and doesn’t require soldering.

However, if you have a regular gaming keyboard that does not feature hot-swappable keys, you would need to desolder the dead key and solder in another key. Once you pry the key off the keyboard, you can try cleaning it and the area around it to check if there is any debris that is causing it to not function properly. Chances are it’s just some dirt that is causing the issue, and you won’t need to replace the key.

4. Replace the keyboard

If none of those techniques work, you might have to replace your keyboard. This isn’t as much of a solution as it is a last resort. Sometimes it is hard to discern what the problem is, and simply replacing the peripheral is easier than trying to get to the bottom of the issue. Moreover, not all issues are easily fixable by non-professionals. Hence, the best advice at this point would be to simply invest in a replacement.

Fortunately, gaming keyboards are available in a variety of price ranges, and you don’t have to necessarily break your bank in order to afford one. 

Dua is a freelance technology writer who's contributed to TechRadar, PCMag and ScreenRant. She's been a technology fan since she was young, and used to pore over the latest product reviews. When not playing with or researching some new piece of tech, you might find her reading, working out or playing the ukelele.