Troubleshoot your own tech problemsHow to research and either fix problems yourself or save money on the repair.
It seems like the minute a warranty expires, big expensive pieces of tech decide to fail. Don't despair. In this world of the Internet, you can do a lot of troubleshooting on your own and save some money. I'm Tom Merritt from CNET.com on this Insider Secret, I'll show you how to research a problem, maybe fix it yourself, or at least save some money on the repair. This TV is my example problem. One day I turned it on and instead of a luscious high- definition picture, I got a blank screen and a steady red power light. First DIY troubleshooting tip Tip ? RTFM ? read the fun manual. If you're lucky that's all you need to do. In my case it says contact the dealer or authorized service center.(1) So on to the Next tip ? Search for similar problems I searched for people with my TV model and the phrases no picture, and red light.(2) I kept looking until I found several posts, with folks who solved the problem in the same way.(3) Next tip ? Search for documentation I got lucky with this one. On one message board thread, a kind soul had posted links to the Mitsubishi service manuals.(4) You may have to search a little harder. I printed these manuals up, and used them to guide me during the next tip(5) ? Do some exploration- Reminder here! Only do this if you're out of warranty and only do as much exploration as you feel comfortable with. You don't want to make the problem worse. As you can see, I've already unscrewed the back and removed the chassis.(6) I used labeled paper cups to keep track of the screws.(7) The pictures in the manuals also come in handy. (8) Then I unhooked just enough wires to be able to swing the chassis out.(9) Only unplug wires that have labels on both ends that you can re-match easily later.(10) If they aren't labeled you can use colored twist ties to mark them. (11) The postings from my earlier research indicated some bad capacitors were the common cause of my problem. They described them as bulging.(12)In mine, you can see that slight swelling at the end. That means they can pass enough charge to power the TV on but are leaking enough not to be able to actually run the TV.(13) These capacitors were 75 cents a piece to replace online.(14) At this point you could pay someone to finish the job. Still a big savings over sending the TV to the shop at the start. Of course you could also do it yourself? or you could ask a friend. Just to be safe I asked Patrick Norton from Revision3's Systm and Tekzilla, who does a heck of a lot more soldering than I do, to lend a hand. Thanks for coming Patrick. Before I begin I want to stress that capacitors are nasty little buggers meant to hold an electrical charge. Be sure your device is powered off for at least 24 hours and that you're solidly grounded before you mess with them. Better yet, don't mess with them. Let an expert do it. * Remove old capacitors -Solder on new ones Thanks Patrick. Now let's put this thing back together. OK the moment of truth. Did this work for me? I see a flashing green light. I don't have a good feeling about this. No, nothing. Oh well, since it didn't work I've only lost time. Since it was out of warranty anyway, no loss. I can still call a repairman or if you enjoy this sort of thing, hit the boards again and try to do more troubleshooting. That's it for this Insider Secret, I'm Tom Merritt CNET.com. Happy troubleshooting but be careful.