How to Fix a Wall Clock That Stopped Working – A Troubleshooter’s Guide

By ShellyP Clayton

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How To Fix A Wall Clock That Stopped Working

Fix your silent wall clock with our guide on How To Fix A Wall Clock That Stopped Working. Learn to diagnose, replace batteries, adjust accuracy, clean, and maintain your clock for longevity.

To fix a wall clock that’s stopped working, start by checking and replacing the battery if necessary. Ensure it’s inserted correctly and that the battery type matches the clock’s requirements. If the issue persists, check for misaligned hands and gently adjust them so they don’t touch each other.

Inspect for dust and gently clean the clock mechanisms. If the clock has a pendulum, ensure it swings freely. If these steps don’t resolve the problem, or if you encounter a broken gear or complex mechanism issues, it’s best to seek professional repair to avoid further damage. Now Let’s explore more:

Wall clocks are not just functional items; they are often pieces of art, adding character to our homes and offices. So, when your wall clock stops working, it can disrupt more than just your schedule. Fortunately, with a few troubleshooting tips, you can often bring your timekeeper back to life yourself. Let’s embark on a journey to fix your wall clock, ensuring your daily routine ticks along smoothly once more.

Preliminary Checks Before Repair

Before delving into more complex solutions, let’s perform some simple checks:

  • Ensure the clock is firmly hung on the wall. An uneven clock can disrupt the mechanism.
  • Check if your clock has a silent or stop feature that might have been accidentally activated.

Common Issues and Fixes for Wall Clocks

Battery Check and Replacement

Often, when a wall clock ceases to function, the issue is as straightforward as a battery that has run its course. Before proceeding with more complex diagnostics, this is the first and simplest step to address.

Signs of Battery Failure

  • The clock hands are moving sluggishly: One of the earliest indications of a dying battery is when the hands move slower than usual, resulting in a time lag.
  • The clock stops and starts intermittently: If your clock is starting and stopping or unable to consistently keep the time, it’s a clear sign that the battery is unable to provide a constant flow of power.

Choosing the Right Battery Type

It’s imperative to adhere to the manufacturer’s specifications when selecting a battery type. Using the correct battery ensures optimal performance and longevity. Here are several reliable battery brands recognized for their durability and compatibility with various devices:

  • Duracell: Known for their long-lasting power, Duracell batteries are a staple in households for a reason.
  • Energizer: Offering both standard and specialty batteries, Energizer is synonymous with reliable, long-term energy for devices.
  • Panasonic: With a focus on both power and environmental sustainability, Panasonic batteries balance quality with eco-friendly considerations.

You can find more information and purchase these batteries from their respective websites:

Always ensure that the polarity is correct and that the battery fits snugly in its compartment. A loose battery can cause intermittent connections, leading to inconsistent clock performance.

Gear Alignment and Function

The intricate dance of gears within a clock is what keeps the hands moving accurately. When they fall out of sync, time tells the tale.

How To Fix A Wall Clock That Stopped Working

Identifying Gear Misalignment

You can suspect a misalignment if:

  • The clock hands are stationary: This often suggests an obstruction or a gear that has slipped out of place.
  • Hands get stuck at specific points: This is a tell-tale sign that the gears are not engaging properly at certain intervals.

Step-by-Step Gear Alignment Process

  1. Open the clock mechanism carefully: Use the appropriate screwdrivers to open the back panel of the clock.
  2. Inspect the gears for any debris or misalignment: Look for foreign particles or misaligned gears that could be causing obstructions.
  3. Realign any gears carefully using tweezers: A pair of fine tweezers can help you gently reposition any dislodged gears. Be sure to handle the delicate components with care to avoid bending or breaking them.

During this process, pay special attention to the gear’s teeth. Even a small chip or wear can prevent gears from turning smoothly. If any damaged gears are identified, they will likely need replacement, which might require professional assistance.

Taking proper care when checking and addressing these issues can often bring a stopped wall clock back to life. Remember that delicate handling is essential as these are sensitive mechanisms, and heavy-handedness can cause further misalignment or damage.

Pendulum Problems (For Pendulum Clocks)

Pendulum clocks have been used for centuries due to their precision and elegance. However, they rely heavily on the continuous, even swings of the pendulum. Any deviation in this movement can cause the clock to stop.

Diagnosing Pendulum Swing Issues

Before you begin adjustments, observe the movement of the pendulum:

  • Check for an Even Swing: The pendulum should move an equal distance from side to side. An uneven swing can cause the clock to lose time or stop altogether.
  • Look for Obstructions: Ensure nothing is obstructing the path of the pendulum. Sometimes, even dust buildup or a misplaced object in the clock case can impede movement.
  • Assess the Suspension Spring: This is what holds the pendulum in place. If it’s damaged or disconnected, the pendulum won’t swing correctly.

Adjusting the Pendulum

To address pendulum issues, take the following steps:

  1. Check the Pendulum Hanger: Confirm that the pendulum is correctly hooked onto the pendulum hanger. If it’s not secure, the pendulum might not be able to swing with the necessary range of motion.

  2. Balance the Pendulum: Make sure that the clock is level. A clock that is not sitting straight may cause the pendulum to drag and eventually stop. Adjust the clock’s position if needed or use the built-in leveling mechanisms, such as leveling feet, if available.

  3. Test the Swing: Gently move the pendulum to one side and release it. Watch its motion — it should swing back and forth without any hesitation or extra noise.

  4. Adjust the Pendulum Bob: If the clock is running fast or slow, the pendulum bob (the weight at the bottom of the pendulum) can be adjusted. Moving it up will make the clock run faster, and moving it down will make it run slower. Most pendulum bobs will have a nut that can be turned for fine adjustments.

  5. Check the Beat: A well-adjusted pendulum clock should have an even ‘tick-tock’ sound. If the ‘tick’ and ‘tock’ are uneven, the crutch (where the pendulum rod is attached at the movement) might need adjustment.

Ensuring Long-Term Functionality

Regular Maintenance: Periodic cleaning and lubrication of the movement can help prevent most pendulum problems.

Handling with Care: Always stop the pendulum swing before moving the clock to avoid damaging the mechanism.

Professional Calibration: If after these steps, the clock is still not keeping accurate time or the pendulum is not swinging as it should, it may be worthwhile to seek help from a professional horologist for calibration.

By understanding the nuances of pendulum movement and taking the time to make precise adjustments, you can often remedy issues causing a pendulum clock to stop, ensuring the continued enjoyment of your elegant timepiece.

Diagram of a Pendulum Clock Gearing System

Component Function Common Issues
Pendulum Drives the clock’s gears Obstruction, misalignment
Escapement Gears Regulates gear movement Wear, imbalanced
Suspension Spring Holds the pendulum in place Breakage, stiffness

Hand Alignment

Incorrectly aligned hands are a somewhat common issue in wall clocks that can cause them to stop or display the incorrect time.

Why Proper Hand Alignment Matters

The hands of a clock are a visual indicator of the intricate movements happening within its mechanism. Here’s why proper alignment is critical:

  • Interference: If the hands are touching each other or the clock face, they can prevent the clock from moving forward.
  • Blockage: Misaligned hands can get caught on the numeral markers or other decorative elements.
  • Mechanical Stress: Beyond just stopping the clock, misaligned hands that force the mechanism could eventually cause damage.

Correcting Misaligned Clock Hands

Here’s how you can safely correct the misalignment of clock hands:

  1. Open the clock face gently if it’s covered by a glass or plastic case.

  2. Minute Hand Adjustment:

    • Hold the centre part of the minute hand and check if it’s loose.
    • If it is, gently push it back towards the clock face without applying excessive force.
    • Ensure it’s not touching the glass, the hour hand, or the second hand (if present).
  3. Hour Hand Adjustment:

    • Now look at the hour hand. It’s usually shorter and sits closer to the clock’s face.
    • Unlike the minute hand, the hour hand should not be as tight. Gently move it to line up with the correct hour on the clock face.
  4. Check for Overlapping:

    • Make sure that the hands are not overlapping and are at a reasonable distance from the clock face.
    • Observe to see they pass over each other and the second hand (if there is one) without touching.
  5. Secure the Hands: Once everything is aligned, lightly press down on the hands’ centre caps to secure them in place, ensuring they are parallel to the face and not leaning towards one side.

  6. Test the Clock:

    • Wind the clock or replace the battery and set the time.
    • Watch the hands move around the clock to confirm that they’ve been correctly aligned and are not catching on anything.

Coil or Spring Issues (For Mechanical Clocks)

The coil or spring in a mechanical clock, often known as the mainspring, is the heart of the clock’s driving force. Problems with the mainspring can manifest in several ways, including the clock stopping entirely.

Signs of Coil or Spring Issues

  • Failure to Wind: If the clock will not wind, the spring might be fully extended or broken.
  • Unusual Sounds: A snapping or popping noise when winding may indicate a spring issue.
  • Lack of Tension: If the clock seems to ‘lose time’ or the hands move too freely, the spring may lack the necessary tension.

Addressing Coil or Spring Issues

  • Overwound Spring: Sometimes what feels like an overwound spring is just that the spring has become too tight and isn’t releasing energy. Gently rocking the clock back and forth may help to release it.
  • Spring Replacement: If the coil or spring is broken, it will require professional replacement, a task suited for a skilled clocksmith.

Correctly aligned hands and a fully functioning spring are critical for the operational integrity of a wall clock. For any internal issues with the spring or complexity beyond these steps, seeking professional repair services is highly recommended to avoid any further damage to your clock.

Identifying and Resolving Coil Problems

Issue Solution
Overwound spring Gently unwind and release tension
Broken spring Replacement is necessary

Quartz Movement Failure (For Quartz Wall Clocks)

Quartz movements, favored for their precision and longevity, are the pulsing core of most modern clocks. Yet, even the steadfast quartz can falter, leading to time discrepancies or complete cessation.

Why Quartz Movements are Generally Reliable

  • Simplicity: Quartz movement clocks have fewer moving parts than mechanical clocks, reducing the chance of failure.
  • Battery Operation: They require just a battery to operate, simplifying their power source.
  • Crystal Oscillation: These movements utilize a quartz crystal oscillator, which is stable and maintains an accurate frequency over time.

Common Indicators of Quartz Movement Malfunctions

  1. Inconsistent Timekeeping:

    • The clock may start losing time, indicating the movement isn’t properly regulating the electrical pulses.
  2. No Ticking Sound:

    • A healthy quartz movement emits a faint, consistent ticking. Silence can indicate a malfunction.
  3. Stuttering Second Hand:

    • Often, a second hand stuck in place, jumping back and forth, suggests an issue with the movement.
  4. Completely Stopped Hands:

    • When new batteries make no difference, and the hands refuse to move, the movement likely has failed.

Diagnosing Quartz Movement Malfunctions

  • Battery Test: Before concluding a movement failure, test with a fresh batch of batteries, ensuring they are installed correctly according to the polarity (+/-) signs.

  • Contact Cleanliness: Verify that the battery contacts are clean and free from corrosion. If not, gently clean them with a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice on a cotton swab. Dry the contacts thoroughly before inserting new batteries.

  • Hand Resistance: Observe if the hands are free to move or if something inside the mechanism is obstructing them.

  • Button or Switch Check: If your clock has any, ensure that the set or time adjustment buttons or switches aren’t stuck or damaged.

  • Physical Damage Assess:

    • Look for signs of damage or wear, like cracks on the clock face or inside the mechanism.
    • Examine the motor for signs of burnout or odor that might suggest a short circuit has occurred.

Next Steps if a Quartz Movement Fails

If the preliminary checks don’t revive the clock:

  1. Movement Replacement:

    • Quartz movements can often be replaced with the same or similar model. They are typically modular and can be ordered online or from a clock parts supplier.
  2. Installation:

    • Installing a new movement is a relatively straightforward process that requires basic tools like screwdrivers. Carefully follow the instructions specific to your clock model or movement type.
  3. Professional Repair:

    • If DIY solutions aren’t feasible, taking the clock to a professional for repair can be the best option.

Quartz movements may fail, but their design permits straightforward diagnoses and remedies. With diligent care or professional assistance, a failed quartz movement doesn’t spell the end for a beloved clock.

Advanced Troubleshooting Steps for Clock Repair

When simple fixes don’t address the issues with your clock, it may be time to consider advanced troubleshooting steps. These steps involve dismantling the clock mechanism, a process that should be approached with patience and precision.

Dismantling the Clock Mechanism

Tools Needed:

  1. Screwdrivers: You will need a set of screwdrivers of various sizes, as clock screws can range from large and easy to handle to tiny and delicate.

  2. Tweezers: Precision tweezers are crucial for manipulating small parts within the clock mechanism.

  3. Magnifying Glass: A magnifying glass can help you see the minute details of the clockwork, necessary for identifying any imperfections or areas needing cleaning and oiling.

How To Fix A Wall Clock That Stopped Working

Cleaning and Oiling the Mechanism

Why It’s Necessary:

Dirt, dust, and dried-out oil can cause the clock’s movements to become sluggish or stick, preventing accurate timekeeping. Regular cleaning and oiling as part of maintenance can mitigate these issues.

How to Clean:

  • Use a soft brush (a paintbrush or a makeup brush can work) to gently remove dust and debris from the gears and moving parts.
  • For more stubborn grime, use a clock cleaning solution specifically designed for the purpose, applying it sparingly to avoid any damage.
  • Be careful not to displace any small parts or upset the delicate balance of the gears as you clean.

How to Oil:

  • After cleaning, apply a small amount of oil specifically meant for clocks to the moving parts.
  • Pay special attention to the pivot points where friction is most likely to occur.
  • Avoid over-oiling, as excess oil can attract dust and create buildup.

Types of Clock Oils

List of Recommended Clock Oils:

  1. Horace Whitlock’s Clock Oil: Known for its quality and suitability for various clock types.

  2. Liberty Oil: Another high-grade oil, Liberty Oil is synthetic and comes with a precision applicator.

  3. Moebius Synthetic Oils: These are highly respected in the horological community for their refined consistency and longevity.

These oils can typically be found online or at specialty clock repair shops.

Calibration and Testing

Calibration Process:

  • Once the clock is cleaned, oiled, and reassembled, it’s vital to calibrate it.
  • Set the time and monitor the clock’s accuracy over several days.
  • For pendulum clocks, adjusting the pendulum’s length can speed up or slow down timekeeping. For others, there may be a small screw on the back of the movement for fine adjustments.


  • Use a reference time, like an atomic clock or a smartphone, to compare your clock’s accuracy after calibration.
  • Note any discrepancies in timekeeping and readjust as needed to achieve accurate performance.

Safety Tip: Always handle the clock parts with care and ensure you have a clear and clean workspace to keep all parts organized.

Advanced troubleshooting like dismantling and servicing a clock’s mechanism should only be done if you are confident in your ability to reassemble the clock without causing damage. If not, it is prudent to seek the assistance of a professional clockmaker to avoid inadvertent damage.

When to Seek Professional Help with Your Clock

Clock repair can be a deeply satisfying endeavor, but it’s crucial to recognize when a problem is beyond your expertise. Tinkering with intricate mechanisms without the right knowledge or tools can lead to further damage, potentially turning a simple fix into a costly repair. Here are scenarios where professional intervention is advisable:

Chime Mechanism Repair

The symphony of chimes in a clock is a result of a complex interplay of gears, hammers, and musical combs. This system, especially in antique or grandfather clocks, can be very intricate:

  • Complex Timing: The synchronization required for chimes to sound correct is delicate and precise.
  • Sensitive Components: The components are often fine-tuned and may require specialized adjustments.
  • Hammer Alignment: An expert has to ensure hammers strike the chime rods or bells at the right point and with the proper force to produce the desired sound.

Extensive Gear Damage

Gears are the heartbeat of the clock’s movement, and damage to them can halt its function entirely:

  • Tiny Tolerances: Clock gears have very little margin for error and must mesh perfectly to function.
  • Specialized Tools: Professionals have the right tools to repair or replace a gear without damaging adjacent parts.
  • Alignment: After repairing or replacing gears, a professional can ensure they are aligned correctly with the rest of the movement.

Replacing a Broken Clock Glass

The glass of a clock does more than protect the face; it contributes to the timepiece’s aesthetic and functionality:

  • Proper Fitting: A professional can measure and cut the perfect size of glass needed for your clock.
  • Special Glass Types: Some clocks require beveled or convex glass, which involves a more complex replacement process.
  • Sealing: Ensuring that the glass is sealed correctly to prevent dust from entering the clock is another critical step that professionals are well-equipped to handle.

Other Considerations

  • Valuable or Antique Clocks: If the clock is valuable, historically significant, or an heirloom, a professional can ensure the value is not diminished by improper repair.
  • Warranty Concerns: DIY repairs might void any existing warranty on the clock. A licensed professional will maintain the warranty and provide service guarantees.

Finding a Trusted Professional

Select a clocksmith or clock repair service with good reviews and, if possible, one that specializes in your type of clock. Their expertise will not only fix the current issue but can also provide insight into maintaining the clock’s longevity.

Professional clock repair services might seem like an additional expense compared to a DIY approach, but when it comes to complex or delicate issues, they are an investment in the life and health of your timepiece.

Preventative Measures and Maintenance

To avoid future problems:

  • Clean and dust your clock regularly. Use a soft cloth to avoid scratching it.
  • Manage your batteries properly; don’t mix old and new ones.
  • Placement Tips to Avoid Clock Damage
    • Keep away from high humidity or extreme temperatures.
    • Avoid direct sunlight which can fade the clock face.


Fixing a wall clock that stopped working isn’t as daunting as it might seem. With this guide, you’re equipped to troubleshoot and address most common issues. Remember, regular maintenance is key to a clock’s longevity, and recognizing when to call in a professional can save not only your clock but potentially, its warranty too.

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