How to Fix a Broken TV IR Sensor

Whether it's on your garage door opener or the Wii that's still hooked up to your parents' TV, infrared sensors use lightwaves not visible to the human eye to communicate with all kinds of devices. Even though your 4K Android smart TV might also feature cutting-edge tech, there's a good chance the remote still utilizes the same type of infrared communication as a 30-year-old tube TV. Be warned that do-it-yourself repairs may void your TV's warranty, but if you're the type of tinkerer who's totally comfortable taking your tech apart, this repair won't be too taxing. Just make sure you have your trusty soldering iron ready.

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Troubleshooting Techniques

Before rolling the dice on a DIY TV repair, you have nothing to lose by giving some simple troubleshooting techniques a try.

Infrared issues aren't brand-specific – whether you've got a Sony, a Vizio or an LG TV, remote sensor problems often boil down to a few common causes. First, make sure no physical objects are blocking the path between the remote and the IR sensor on the TV. Try power cycling the TV, too, by uplugging it and letting it rest for 15 minutes before plugging it back in.

Don't rule out the remote, because it may simply need a new pair of batteries. Or, the remote may not be sending an IR signal to the sensor. To test this, open your phone's camera app, point the remote's IR emitter – located behind the shiny plastic on the end of the remote you point at the TV – at the camera lens and press and hold a button. If the remote is working, you'll be able to see a light (which you can't normally see with the naked eye) on your camera's viewfinder screen. If there's no light, you may need a new remote.

The DIY Approach

If your TV's IR receiver isn't working even after basic troubleshooting, the sensor hardware itself may be the culprit. Time to grease those elbows and take apart the TV.

After opening up the set, you'll be focusing on your TV's motherboard. Here, you'll see a small, usually black, square or rectangle topped with a shiny black dome – that's the IR sensor. Before you commit to buying a new one, give it a wipe-down with rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab to ensure that it's not too grimy. Just like physical interference between the remote and sensor, too much gunk on the sensor can inhibit the signal.

Replace IR Sensor for TV

In other cases, the solder joints securing the IR sensor to the circuit board may have worn out, especially on older TVs. To remedy this, break out that soldering iron and re-solder the joints by applying few fresh dabs to each.

If those DIY methods don't work, numerous online electronics parts suppliers sell replacement IR sensors for TVs down to the specific model. Once you've got the new sensor in-hand, it's a plug-and-play deal – just wiggle the old sensor out and plug the new one in before reassembling your TV.

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