What Causes Color Problems on TVs?

By Dan Ketchum

As televisions come in numerous types – from cathode ray tube TVs to liquid crystal displays to plasma screens – the causes of color problems are numerous and extremely diverse. Commonly, muddy, overly saturated or strangely hued colors result from a simple misuse of the television's built-in color settings. Serious color problems may result from screen damage or faulty interior components. If color problems persist after changing the TV's colors, consult a repair technician.

Color Settings

Often, color problems across all types of television result from poor picture settings. In this case, users need only recalibrate the TV's color setting. To recalibrate the color, go to your TV's settings menu and desaturate the color setting until the TV displays in black and white. Adjust contrast so that whites and blacks are distinct, and adjust brightness so that blacks are deep and dark rather than gray. Turn sharpness all the way up and then bring it down until the halos around lines and letters disappear. If available, use a the calibration tools -- simple displays of color bars -- included on some DVDs to assist you as you adjust the set.

LCD Color Problems

Flat-screened liquid crystal displays re-align the molecular structure of crystals to create a color display. LCD monitors rely on single pixels to provide an entire image; when one pixel dies, a black, colorless dot takes its place. Faulty manufacturing or blown transistors cause dead pixels. Fast onscreen movement, such as the quick animations of video games, can cause colors to temporarily blur, a problem known as “ghosting.” Dull, blurry colors may be the fault of an improper resolution setting. For instance, if a Blu Ray player is outputting a resolution of 1080p, the television should be set to display this resolution rather than a different resolution, such as 720p or 480p.

Plasma Color Problems

Plasma displays, another flat-panel type of TV, create color pictures via small cells of electrically charged ionized gases. Like LCD TVs, plasma TVs color may suffer when the TV isn't set on the proper resolution. Plasmas may also display blurry color trails or unnatural shadowing during quick onscreen movement. Multicolored sunburst-like patterns may appear on the screen due to an application of heavy pressure. Burn-in, which occurs when static objects from previous displays – such as a channel's watermark or a health meter from a video game – appear on the current display, results from leaving these static objects on-screen for dozens of hours at a time.

CRT Color Problems

Cathode ray tube, or CRT, televisions – traditional, boxy TVs – produce a picture via a controlled projection of red, green and blue primary colors. Poor connections to external display sources or a fault in the TV's chroma decoder can cause one primary display color – red, green or blue – to overpower the others. Completely colorless, black and white displays of color broadcasts indicate a weak signal, defective chroma chip or chroma chip connections or a faulty color oscillator. These issues can also cause missing colors while other colors remain intact. Color that fades intermittently may result from a failing cathode ray tube.