How to Fix a Remote Control

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A couch potato without a remote control is like a king or queen without a scepter, but what do you do if the scepter is broken? Don't let your favorite spud lie helplessly on the sofa. Many remote-control problems can be fixed easily.

Things You'll Need

  • New Batteries
  • Nail File
  • Pencil Eraser
  • Open the remote and confirm that the batteries are there.

  • Assuming the batteries are present and not caked in acid (a bad thing), double-check that they are inserted correctly. Someone could have dropped your remote and hastily scooped up the batteries, then surreptitiously reinstalled them the wrong way.

  • While you're checking the battery installation, make sure that the contacts for the batteries aren't corroded or bent. You can clean them with a pencil eraser followed by a nail file. If necessary, gently bend them back to their correct position.

  • Try a fresh pair of batteries. Be sure to put them in the right way.

  • If your remote is a universal model that can be programmed to control multiple devices, consult the manual (or look on the maker's Web site) to find out how to reinitialize it. Maybe it has forgotten its codes.

  • Check to see if the problem is with the TV or another component that you're trying to control. Try unplugging it for a minute and plugging it back in. Some VCRs have a "parental" mode that locks a remote and/or "timer" modes that shut down a remote until the mode is turned off.

  • Test to see if the remote is getting interference from other electrical devices in the room. To do this, turn off absolutely everything except the device you're trying to control.

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