Vol.2, No.8

Do it yourself: diy tv repair guide

Knowing how to safely make a few basic repairs to your television can save you the time and money of consulting a professional and protect you from the unnecessary purchase of a new set.

Inside of a VCR
Photo Credit: Tim Pohl
The television set has been and will continue to be the hub of the American home entertainment system for some time. Emerging technologies and expanded programming have driven consumers to purchase television sets with more features and at a higher cost. Knowing how to make a few basic repairs to your own television set can save you the time and money of consulting a professional over a simple problem, and even protect you from the unnecessary purchase of a new set.

However, home repair enthusiasts, experienced or otherwise, should note that television sets contain dangerously high voltages (more than 30,000) and even "quick fixes" should not be handled lightly. When making any repairs, wear safety glasses and work gloves at all times.

One of the most common malfunctions in cable televisions is a blurred (or snowy) picture. Most often, this is caused by a flaw in the coaxial cable connecting the TV (or VCR) to the cable antenna: the wiring itself may be flawed or the fitting may be loose. To determine if this is the case, turn the television on and wiggle the coaxial cable where it enters the television and where it enters the cable output. If the snow on the screen wavers (gets better or worse), you know there is a problem with the cable. Also, you can try using the same cable on another television in your house. If it produces a snowy picture there also, you know there is a problem with that cable. Replacing the cable is inexpensive and easy: they can be found in the electronics section of most department stores and hardware stores in a variety of lengths and colors. Be sure to properly dispose of the flawed cable.

Another common malfunction that occurs in television sets is blotches of color, which may be particularly apparent around the edges of the screen. This can happen if the television screen becomes magnetized, which will occur if the television is placed near other electronic equipment, such as stereo speakers. While most televisions contain a circuit that will automatically de-magnetize the screen, this circuit may be damaged or otherwise malfunctioning. To de-magnetize the television yourself, you will need to purchase a strong magnetic coil: these can be found at most hardware stores. Hold the coil in the upper left hand corner, a few inches away from the screen (a rainbow pattern should appear on the screen). Making small circular motions, move the coil around the screen (the rainbow pattern should fluctuate). Increase the size of your circular motions until you have covered the entire screen and then slowly back away from the television set, continuing to make circular motions. When the coil loses contact with the screen, the blotches of color should be gone. In order to successfully de-magnetize the set, you may need to repeat these steps several times.

Replacing a television speaker that emits static noise can be simple, but requires caution because it entails removing the back cover of the television set, exposing the high voltage lead that runs into the top part of the picture tube. Even if the television is unplugged, the tube can shock you: do not touch it in any way. You will also be required to purchase a replacement speaker which needs to match your current speaker in impedance, which will usually be indicated on the magnet. Begin by unplugging your television and laying it, screen down, on a soft surface. Remove any screws (usually Phillips head) from the back of the television shell. Then, pull back on the cover; if you feel resistance, you may have missed a screw or the cover may have snagged on one of the set's internal wires. Carefully remove these obstacles and set the cover aside. Identify the malfunctioning speaker (whichever one usually emits static noise), and replace it with the new one. Reattach the speaker in the same manner the old one was attached. Replace the television cover and attach with screws. Important: during this process it is very important to make sure none of the internal wiring of the television is jarred, twisted, or broken. Any damage to these components can irrevocably impair the function of the set.

If your television set has a tendency to shut off randomly, it is probably overheating. Permanently remove any objects placed on or too close to the television's ventilation slats. Use a small vacuum attachment to remove any dust that has built up there. This should successfully prevent your television from randomly shutting off again.

These four techniques will cure 50% of the problems that ail your television set, saving you time and money. If using these techniques does not work for you or if you feel unsure in performing any of them, a professional television repairperson should be contacted. Ask for an estimate and a realistic appraisal of whether the set can be adequately fixed. If not, it may be time to shop around for a newer model.