Easy fixes for TV remote controls

June 30, 2015

TV remote controls malfunction often for the simplest of reasons and can be easily fixed with a little know-how and a little effort.

Easy fixes for TV remote controls

The keys on my remote control are sluggish

A quick cleanup will get it working like new

Do you have to push harder on the buttons of your remote control to change channels? Over time, grease and gunk build up under the keypad.

Time needed to clean a remote control: 30 minutes:

Tools needed: screwdriver, blunt flat-bladed knife, cotton swab, isopropyl alcohol, detergent and damp cloth

  • Remove the batteries from the remote and undo any screws holding the two halves of the unit together. Keep the screws in a bowl to stop them from rolling away. Insert the blade of the blunt knife into the joint between the upper and lower plastic casing and gently pry open the unit.
  • Remove the rubber key panel and, using a cotton swab dipped in alcohol, clean the contacts beneath each key. Work gently so you do not damage the delicate contacts. Clean the upper surface of the key panel with a damp cloth and mild detergent.
  • Now clean the circuit board by gently wiping it with a damp cloth and mild detergent. Wipe with a clean cloth and leave both halves to dry completely. Reassemble the remote by reversing the previous steps.

My remote control doesn’t work

Check it with your phone

If pressing keys on your remote control doesn't have any effect on your TV, the problem could lie with the remote unit or the set. There's a simple way to check if your remote is working.

  • Switch on your mobile phone's camera and point the remote control toward the camera's lens. Press a button on the remote, and you should see a blue glow from the remote's emitter on the camera's screen. This is because digital cameras pick up the infrared radiation of remote handsets.
  • If the remote doesn't work, first try changing its batteries and cleaning the battery contacts. You can do this by rubbing the contacts with a pencil eraser or some fine-grade sandpaper.
  • If the remote does work, the fault may lie within the TV set. But before you call for a repair, turn off any room lights and try again. Some types of fluorescent bulbs can interfere with the signal from a remote. Try repositioning the light or consider replacing its bulb with one of another type.
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