How to Restore VCR Tapes

Though technology has long since moved on from the VHS tape, you still might have a VCR in your house, and a few tapes that you'd like to play. Over time, VCR tapes can become damaged from dust and moisture. However, in some cases, you can restore these tapes to enjoy all over again. Just note that it might be a good idea to transfer them to DVD.

Inspect the plastic VHS case for any damage. If it was left in storage that was too hot, the case can become warped or melted. Cut away any labels or stickers along the seams with the small pen knife. Unscrew the small screws along the bottom of the case holding it together.

Lift off the top section of the case and set it aside. Remove the spools the tape is wrapped around, and reinsert them into a new open bottom half VHS cassette case. Ensure the tape is going in the new case in the correct position and orientation. Slip the loose tape between the two spools into the slot along the opening edge of the new tape. Twist one wheel to tighten any slack in the tape. Close the new case, and test it in a VHS VCR.

Check picture quality. If the picture quality is damaged, this can be a problem with the film itself. Locate the small button on the side of the tape's opening flap. Press and hold as you open the flap exposing the tape. Use clear tape to tape the flap, so it remains open as you work.

Locate the section of the videotape that is damaged. This can be a wavy or crumpled section. Pull the film tape out a little so you have slack to work with. Cut the bad section of tape with a splicing kit or small pair of scissors. Make this cut as clean as possible.

Join the two good ends of the film's tape by applying a small piece of splicing tape on the non-playing videotape side. Twist the spools of the tape to tighten the videotape. Close the open case flap, and insert the VHS cassette into a player. Play the film in the section you have spliced. The section of the film will be gone, but the tape will now play without further damage to the tape or VCR.

Things You'll Need

  • Small screwdriver
  • Small pen knife
  • New VHS case
  • Sellotape
  • White cotton gloves
  • Splicing kit
  • Small pair of scissors
  • Splicing tape
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About the Author

Brenda Barron is a writer, editor and researcher based in Southern California. She has worked as a writer since 2004, with work appearing in online and print publications such as BabyZone, "Cat Fancy" and "ePregnancy." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from California State University, Long Beach.