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How to Deal with a Broken Heel

Break a Heel on your Favorite Pair of Shoes?

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Young woman with broken shoe heel on sidewalk
Peter Samuels/The Image Bank/Getty Images
Grouch Marx's famous utterance, "Time wounds all heels," was a reference to louts getting their comeuppance, but it can also describe the pounding our shoe heels invariably take.

Shoes take a lot of wear and tear, and heels can work loose or even break in two. No matter what you've seen intrepid heroines do in the movies, broken heels, especially high heels, can't be repaired with a wad of gum. Nor can you easily snap off your other heel and turn your Manolo Blahnik stilettos into an attractive pair of ballet flats.

Dealing with a Broken Heel on the Go

In real life, a tube of strong glue in your purse or pocket can be a lifesaver for footwear calamities on the run.

When you feel your heel coming loose or about to give way, shift up onto your toes, taking the weight off the heel so you don't trip of fall. If the heel detaches completely, retrieve any pieces you can find. Next, carefully make your way to someplace where you can sit down and examine the damage.
  • If the heel was nailed to the sole, coat the protruding nails with glue, slide the nails back into the original holes and hold the heel in place until the glue dries.

  • When a glued-on heel detaches from a sole, scrape off the dried glue, coat with fresh glue and hold in place until a bond is formed.

  • If a high heel snaps in two, coat one piece with glue at the site of the break and try to reattach the other section. Stay off your feet as much as possible until you can change to another pair of shoes.

Repairing Broken Heels at Home

For an at-home glue job, try a shoe adhesive such as Shoe Goo. Be sure the area to be repaired is clean, dry and free of oils, old glue and polishes. Gently sand the sole and heel to roughen up the surfaces. Apply a layer of Shoe Goo to both the heel and the sole and allow the solvents to evaporate for five to 10 minutes before pressing together. Apply pressure by using rubber bands, string or a heavy object for at least 24 hours. The longer the glue cures, the stronger the bond.

Professional Heel Repair

Broken heels are shoe emergencies that may be best left to professionals, since do-it-yourself measures may not last. Visit a cobbler and get an estimate for repairs. Inexpensive shoes might not be worth the cost, while better footwear often is.

If the heel is in one piece, a cobbler can usually reattach it. A heel broken into several pieces can be replaced with a new heel unit, but in most cases you'll have to have both shoes done so the heel heights and colors will match.

If a heel falls off a new shoe, the footwear may be defective. Make tracks back to the store where the shoes were purchased and ask for a replacement.

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