Angie's LIST Guide to
Clock repair

Delicate timepieces require professional clock repair. Whether your clock needs a thorough cleaning and complete overhaul or simply needs to be reset, contact a professional to do the job right.
 

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Clock repair, especially for an antique piece, should often be left to a professional. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Patricia B. of Ferndale, Mich.)
Clock repair, especially for an antique piece, should often be left to a professional. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Patricia B. of Ferndale, Mich.)
 
 

When to repair

While newer clocks may be easy to replace or repair due to the availability of parts, older or antique clocks are often collector's items that hold special sentimental, historic or financial value. Generally, antique clocks have more complicated movements that should only be handled by a professional.

In the days when wood and coal were common heating fuels, clocks needed to be serviced about every three years because smog and smoke caused the clock's oil to thicken more quickly, eventually causing the clock to stop. Today, regular service is often unnecessary, thanks to synthetic oils and cleaner air. Most antique clocks can run for years with only routine, do-it-yourself maintenance, such as rewinding.

However, antique clocks should be taken to a professional clock service provider every 10 years. Many clock owners only take their antique pieces for repair when the clock has stopped working. The repairs necessary to make the clock tick again are often costly and complicated. Instead of waiting for your antique clock to stop, take it to a repair person once every decade to prolong its life.

DIY or expert?

While minor problems with most modern clocks can easily be repaired at home by rewinding, cleaning or purchasing a new battery or hands, problems that afflict an antique clock should almost always be diagnosed and repaired by a professional. Antique clocks have a far more delicate construction than new clocks, and at-home repairs may do more damage than good.

Even cleaning an antique grandfather, cuckoo or mantel clock is a complex process. Professionals call the process an "overhaul" because it requires the complete disassembly of the interconnected gears that make the clock run. Navigating these parts is nearly impossible without professional training. Removing dirt and old oil from the clock's interior is difficult without proper tools. Experts use an ultrasonic cleaning technique to remove dirt and debris without compromising the clock's mechanisms.

Cleaning the exterior clock case of an antique is just as delicate an operation. A high-quality wax must be used to maintain the finish, and the clock should be cleaned using circular motions and a soft cloth. Using a harsh formula or rough touch can remove the clock's finish and diminish its value.

Repairs to the clock's mainspring, the power source in mechanical clocks, can be quite dangerous. The mainspring holds a lot of power, even when only partially wound, and can cause personal injury if not handled properly.

When doing simple DIY repairs, like resetting the time or calendar, wear white cotton gloves so as not to contaminate the clock with natural oils from the skin. These oils can cause corrosion over time.

Moving and restoration

In addition to doing repairs, professionals also may move and restore antique pieces. Moving a grandfather clock, for instance, is a difficult process that involves many steps. The clock's interior cables must be stabilized, the chains secured and the weights and pendulum removed. The clock must be well-wrapped to avoid damage. Unpacking the clock and resetting the parts is just as complicated. To have your grandfather clock or other antique clock successfully moved, contact a professional.

Clock professionals are often skilled at restoring antique pieces. Clocks kept in a storage unit, basement or attic may need a complete overhaul, but even clocks kept out of storage will need some restoration eventually. Professionals analyze clocks to determine the proper polishing and cleaning methods to restore it to its original appearance. Every component of the clock can be restored to maintain the piece's originality, and measures can be taken to avoid future damage.

To run properly, clocks require a maximum transfer of power to the pendulum. An unbalanced clock does not properly transfer power through the pendulum, causing the clock to stop running. Rebalancing a clock's pendulum is tricky, but a trained professional can reset the beat and get it running without more damage to the interior.

Even modern clocks are complex pieces that require professional care. Any mechanical clock, whether old or new, should be repaired by a professional to avoid further damage.

Choosing a professional

Look for a professional who knows how to work on your particular type of clock and has experience repairing the kind of problem you're having. The professional should offer a warranty on overhauls and also provide preventive services to maintain your clock.

The time frame for repairs depends on the severity of the problem and availability of replacement parts. The cost also varies widely, but customers can expect to pay $150 to $350 for movement overhauls, $200 to $300 for cuckoo clock repairs, and up to $375 to completely clean and lubricate a clock. Restoration costs depend on the clock's origin, size and condition.

Before choosing a repair professional, check out recommendations from local people Angie's List. Repairing and restoring clocks is a delicate endeavor, and only experienced professionals should be trusted with your special timepiece.

Comments

It was working fine, but I moved from one state to another and it stopped working. would like to get it fixed

Moving your clock from one state to another should not be a cause for trouble. What type of clock is it?

I have an antique clock and my repair man closed his shop. I need to find one in the Flint area?

Thank you.

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