how warped is too warped vinyl

How Warped Is Too Warped Vinyl – Time To Throw Out My Vinyl?

Collectors among us spend their whole payroll on building their collection of vinyl. But what happens when all that cautiously handled vinyl still gets warped?

I think I can relate to some of that frustration. There is a small standard of warp till which it’s still okay to play. 

But if your vinyl is too warped then you won’t get that sweet music anymore. Now the question is, how warped is too warped vinyl?

To figure out how warped is too warped for vinyl there is a trick. If your vinyl shows slight up-down when held at eye level, the warp is okay. But if the music skips upon playing then it is too warped. It’s advised not to play warped vinyl as it can damage the turntable.

But that’s not all to it. By the end of the article, see if your vinyl needs a return. 

What Does A Warped Vinyl Mean?

How many hundreds of bucks have you spent building your vinyl collection? I’m sad to inform you, that your favorite records won’t be bread flat its whole life. 

Vinyl can get deformed or bent due to temperature, pressure, and incorrect management or storage. This deformation is called warping. 

Vinyl warp is a common scenario and it’s something that happens way too often. Even if you are very careful about your vinyl handling, it can still happen.

Can You Fix a Warped Record
Source: Vinyl Engine

How Warped Is Too Warped?

“How warped is too warped for a vinyl?” might just be the question of the year. You can still play a warped vinyl, however, too warped records can affect your record player.

Do warped records affect sound? The record sound may sound distorted and give poor audio quality. 

You may now ask yourself is there a way to fix warped vinyl? Some people even use a hair dryer to fix a warped record. There are a few identification factors that can identify if your record is gone for good. But in some cases, when the damage isn’t too bad, the vinyl might be salvageable. 

Point Till Which You Might Still Be Able To Use It 

If you notice minute dents on your vinyl from eye level, you can still use it. You just have to use a warped record flattener or any other technique to make it better. 

Say, you’re sure there is a slightly warped vinyl but wanna know if it’s still as good. Play it on your turntable then. If the record doesn’t skip or jump, you’re in the clear!

Point When The Vinyl Is A Goner 

After playing, if the record still skips, and gives audible effects, it’s time to return your vinyl. A jump of 3 mm is common and negligible. 

But if it’s more than that, don’t play it for too long. Because if you think can warped record damage stylus, the answer is yes. By playing warped vinyl, you are putting your stylus at risk of damage. 

Sometimes the warp is just too obvious. So, you already know that it’s pretty warped. 

There is no definite numerical measure for a too warped vinyl. You just have to figure it out from your senses.

can warped record damage stylus
Source: Wax Times

What Causes Vinyls To Warp?

There are a few external stimuli along with handling issues that can cause vinyl to warp. Is it normal for a vinyl to be warped? The answer to your question is yes, it is normal. Let’s take a look at a few reasons in detail about what causes the vinyl to warp. 

Temperature

The vinyl record we talk about is made of PVC also known as Poly Vinyl Chloride. PVC has very little thermal stability. 

So, in presence of high temperature, the rigidity of PVC weakens and it deforms in shape. In a high-temperature environment or under the influence of sunlight the vinyl warms up. This then causes warping. 

Besides, the heat on the peak of the grooves makes it weak. Thus, the grooves kind of become undefined or blunt. 

So, if you try to play that vinyl then the stylus won’t be able to capture anything. There’ll be lots of distortions.

The optimum temperature for vinyl to say undeformed is 18-21℃. Maintaining such ambient temperature reduces many possibilities of warping.

Direct Sunlight 

Sunlight plays a huge role in the warping of vinyl. Sunlight is the provider of both light and temperature. Light just adds up to more temperature.  

So, exposure to sunlight really fastens the heating process of the vinyl.

In addition to that, there is one other enemy we are forgetting about, the Ultra Violet ray. 

UV ray reduces the breaking strain property of vinyl by 40% and specific rigidity by 60%. These changes in the tensile property cause a transition to weakened property of the vinyl. 

Thus it becomes more prone to bending and twisting, also known as warping. 

Prolonged exposure to the sun breaks down the resin in the dye. This causes a chalky residue on the surface of the vinyl. The vinyl fades its color and starts looking somewhat pale. 

Now you know why this person’s vinyl got warped.

Pressure 

Pressure is one of the main reasons for vinyl warping. Vinyl can be affected by the pressure in infinite ways. 

If the vinyl is held too tightly, the force will cause warping. Again, if the vinyl is swooshed in the air, it will cause warping. The air pressure will bend the vinyl. 

In any instance, vinyl can get warped under the influence of pressure.

That is why it is said that vinyl is temperature and pressure-sensitive. These two factors can act on it at any instant or source. 

So it’s extremely important to handle the records very gently. 

Storage 

Most of us have a common misconception about storing flat disc objects. if we put it under a stack of heavy objects, it will remain intact. 

But that just adds more uneven pressure across the surface of the disc and causes warping. 

Vinyl is pretty large in diameter. Whatever object is put on top of it doesn’t cover it. The areas that don’t get the pressure lightly lift upwards along the border of the object. In this way an obvious dent forms and damages the vinyl.

vinyl is temperature and pressure-sensitive
Source: Vinyl Me Please

What Are the Indications Of A Warped Vinyl?

Firstly, you can examine the vinyl by holding it to your eye level. From that point, you should be able to see the dick till its central hole. If there is any dent or high- low you can identify it from here. 

You can also keep it on a flat surface like a flat balanced tale. Here whatever portion is upwards or facing downwards, is the warped vinyl. You may even hear low-pitched audio sounds due to being warped.

If the vinyl jumps while playing then it’s warped. You can use Vinyl Flattener to flatten your vinyl. But if even that doesn’t work, then it’s warped tight. 

You will notice obvious audible effects in your warp. Music will skip or cut off in the middle of playing along the way. 

How To Fix A Warped Vinyl?

Once you have identified your vinyl is still salvageable, then you can follow these methods. None of them is a 100% guaranteed method. But it will still make your record significantly better than before. 

  1. Case your vinyl in its paper jacket. Put the record under a large surface of a heavy object. Something that will distribute equal pressure on the total surface of the vinyl. You have to wait for a few weeks to see the results.
  2. There are Vinyl Flatteners available in the market. With its right pressure and a slight temperature change, it does a good job of flattening. 
  3. Last but not least, when none of those methods work you have the last two options. Either return the vinyl and ask for an exchange or hire a professional to do the fixing. 

How To Prevent Vinyl From Warping?

As you can see, it’s very easy for vinyl to get warped. But there are a few steps you can take to prevent your vinyl from warping. 

You should follow some of the tips to prevent vinyl from warping.

Storing your records correctly greatly reduces the possibility of warping. Keep the record in its given poly-wrap and jacket. It is okay if you can’t store all of them vertically without the other leaning on it. You may store it horizontally but don’t put anything heavy on top of it. 

Keep the storage room at an ambient temperature of 18-21 degrees Celsius. This will reduce the possibility of the vinyl losing its rigidity. The record will remain as crisp as before. 

Don’t touch the record with your bare hand. The natural oils in your hand will get stuck on the record. This will attract more dust and cause grease on top. Thus, the stylus won’t be able to properly translate the music into the speaker. 

Never clean your record with a cotton cloth or any random fabric. Use non-static, non-abrasive record cleaner fabric. Take a Record Cleaning Liquid Cleanser for it. Some of the best record cleaning liquid cleanser are given below.

For a deep and neat clean, you can check the Big Fudge Vinyl Record Cleaning Kit.

You can a premium kit for deep cleaning with Vinyl Record Cleaner Kit.

If you want a shiny vinyl, then check the Boundless Audio Record Cleaning Solution.

Try to handle the record as lightly as you can. The pressure from your grip can cause the vinyl to warp too. 

These few tips can help any record collector to take care of their collection better. If you follow this advice, you reduce many risks of your deformation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does cold affect vinyl?

Warm temperature affects vinyl but cold doesn’t. If the temperature shifts from cold to warm, condensation of water vapor can get on the record. You’ll see droplets of water on it perhaps, nothing more than that. 

Does a CD last longer or record?

Definitely vinyl lasts longer than a CD. It’s because CDs are very susceptible to dust, and scratches. The slightest scratch on the CD can cause it to skip. In that sense, vinyl is much more lasting although it requires sensitive handling. 

How do UV rays determine the lifespan of a record?

UV rays cause photodegradation in PVC. in this process the polymer chains break down and lose the integrity of the matter. Prolonged exposure will fasten up the process. 

Conclusion 

Hope now you know everything about how warped is too warped vinyl. Have you been able to save any of your favorite records? Or are they way too warped to tell? 

Let us know in the comments how this article helped. If you have any more questions, please ask below. We love to help.

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