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Things to Know About Clock Care

On nights when you can’t sleep, have you ever just lounged in the living room and listened to the lulling and relaxing tick emanating from your clock? It’s such a soothing sound, and it has helped many fall into that enviable slumber. But then it’s quiet. You hear nothing. The clock has stopped.

Things to Know About Clock Care
(Pixabay / sr_verde)

While some clock repairs need a professional, others can be done at home. If your clock is no longer keeping time, follow the tips in the following list to see if it’s a simple fix.

Wind it up

One very common problem people have when trying to use their computer is that it won’t turn on. After pushing the power button for five minutes and getting red-faced from anger, they finally give up and call it in. So, the tech specialists come, do some troubleshooting and voila! They plug it in and everything works.

It’s a similar issue to clocks, especially if you’re new to owning one. Before spending the money to have someone show up and find out why it’s not tick-tocking, try winding it. This very well could be the source of the silence.

When doing so, insert the key all the way and turn it until it stops. You’ll feel resistance, but when the clock is fully wound, the key will stop. Another important thing to note is that certain clocks need to be wound at certain times. For example, an eight-day clock should be wound every seven days; a 30-hour clock should be wound once a day, etc.

The hands

Another common problem is the hands of the clock. If the minute hands touch the glass, that will stop it. If that’s the case, just slightly bend the hand back until it’s no longer in contact with the glass surface. Just be careful about bending it too much. If it touches the hour hand, the same thing will happen.

The hour hand touching the clock’s dial will result, yet again, in the same thing. Just bend it away, being careful that it won’t touch the minute hand.

To make sure these hands won’t touch anything when moving, advance it 12 hours. This will cause them to pass each other and is the perfect opportunity to see if they’ll hit.


Clocks are finicky creatures—especially the antiques. However, their beauty makes up for it. So, if you want yours to be functional and attractive, make sure it’s in a safe spot.

Keep it out of heat and humidity if you can. Also, keeping it out of direct sunlight is a must. These elements can bleach and dry the finish and wood cover, thus ruining them. You should also avoid putting the clock on top of a frequently used fireplace. The heat and smoke from this can damage the mechanisms within. You should also keep your clock away from cigarettes, pipes and cigar smoke as these can also damage the movements within.

Moving your clock can also lead to it stopping if you don’t do it right. If it uses a pendulum, it must be level to work. A trick to knowing if it’s level or not is listening. If it has a nice even tick-tock sound, it’s most likely pretty good. However, if it sounds offbeat, like there’s a significant pause between one tick-tock and the following, this will lead to stoppage.

When placing your clock, use a level to make sure it’s even. If it’s a grandfather clock or a shelf clock, you may need to place something small and thin, like a shim, a quarter or a washer underneath to get it that way.

When hanging a wall clock, avoid using nails and strings as these often aren’t strong enough; wall bolts are a much safer and stronger option.

But, if your clock needs to be at a tilt to get that even beat to it, you need to call in a professional as this is often caused by a problem with the clock’s suspension.

One final note on placement. Keep it away from areas of the house with high vibration, like loose floorboards. These vibrations will slowly counteract the movement of the pendulum, making it come to a stop.

Changing the time

If your clock is showing the wrong time, for whatever reason, but is still in working condition, it’s an easy fix. If it has a “silent lever,” activate it and move the minute hand clockwise until it reads the correct time. If it doesn’t have a “silent lever” move the minute hand clockwise, making sure to stop for each chime, until it reads the correct time.

Remember, always, repeat always, set the time by turning the minute hand in a clockwise fashion. If you turn it counterclockwise, it could break. Even if you’re only setting it back an hour.

Even if you do your best to take care of your antique clocks, they can still break, slow down, or just need their regular maintenance (which should be done every few years). If that’s the case, Times Ticking has been in the business for nearly 40 years and can do anything from chiming clock repairs to general clock restoration.