Why Doesn't My TV Remote Work?

My TV, and my remote control, have been at the repair shop for nearly 4 weeks now while the geniuses try to figure out what’s wrong with the damn thing. At home, the only thing the remote does is control the volume. In the shop, everything works perfectly. If I go pick it up tomorrow and something doesn’t work in the shop, then I shall be perfectly justified in tearing the mechanic limb from limb. But if it does work there, and then fails when I get home, I will howl with anguish and wonder what environmental factor is present in my house that prevents me from watching TV.

I do have a theory, which may be loopy, but I need a spectrologist to check it out for me.

The table that my TV sits on is maroon. Now the geometry of my set is such that the infrared receiver is right on the bottom of the TV, ie it’s touching this red table. Assuming that said table is red because it reflects light within a particular range of wavelengths (700 to 750 nm if I recall correctly), there’s nothing to stop it from reflecting infrared light (more than 750 nm…), so could this red table be screwing around with my remote control?

Yeah, I am going to do some experimenting when I get my TV home. If it ever comes home. But I’d still like to have some sort of explanation.

A question for you, because I’ve seen this effect the performance of infrared remotes.

Do you have any flourecent lighting anywhere near the TV set? By this, I mean the ones that replace regular incandesant bulbs in a standard light socket.

I once lived in a fraternity house that the remote worked great with the lights off, but as soon as they were turned on, it stopped working.

Just a guess…


My remote has been near death for about 2 years. It’s not the batteries. When I point at the TV from across the room, nothing happens. But when I hold the remote at point-blank range, pressed directly against the IR sensor on the TV, it works. I even pried off the translucent plastic coating that covers the sensor (in case, perhaps, it had yellowed, etc., during years of sitting in occasional direct sunlight, thereby making it more opaque to the remote’s signals…), with no result.

I have noticed no diff. with the lights on or off. Nor depending on what surface the TV rests (it’s been moved a few times).

So add this to the list of TV-remote anomalies.

The same thing happened to me as to Butler.

I replaced the incadescent lightbulb in the basement with one of those energy-efficient flourescent things. Immediately the TV remote stopped working. Turned off the light, everything was fine. Although it’s counter-intuitive to me, I have to guess that the brighter, blue-green spectrum of the flourescent overwhelmed the infra-red of the remote.

Try the remote first with the lights in the room turned off, then cover the surface of the table with something (white, perhaps?)

Fluorescents apparently do give off a small amt. of IR that can screw with TV remotes.


Not to be a smart ass, but can’t you just break down and buy yourself a universal remote?

For $10, you can get a UR at a supermarket…enter a four digit code for your tv, vcr, dvd, etc. and you now have satisfaction!

At the shop, they are testing it with YOUR television? Just a suggestion…cause it could be that the IR reciever on the TV is the actual problem, so if they’re trying out the remote with other TVs, then they won’t spot the problem.

I was less than clear in my initial posting.

According to the shop, which has already inspected my remote control twice, the remote works perfectly so it’s no use buying a universal remote. Besides, I don’t know anyone who owns one that actually works :wink:

They suspected the receiver on my three-month-old TV was faulty, but in the shop they’re getting no indications of any problems when they test the two devices together.

As for the lighting-- nope, there are no fluorescent lights in my living room. Just a halogen bulb and a standard 150 watter.

Ah well, I’m off to pick it up now, but I will test it in the shop before bringing it home…

I don’t mean to be a smartass either since this is a simple solve, but working at a TV retailer this solved 90% of peoples problems when they came to me and told me their remotes didn’t work.

Most remotes for tvs will also control a cable box or vcr. On the remote they usually group these buttons together in another color and label them tv, vcr, cbl/sat. If the vcr or cbl/sat button has been pressed, none of the buttons on the remote will work with the exception of the volume. It’s because the remote now thinks it’s supposed to be controlling a vcr or cable box.
You can switch the remote back to TV mode by pressing the TV button.

This may be common sense but like i’ve said, 90% of my customers problem remotes were caused by this.