Troubleshooting Your Cable Box
by Nick Smith
youve recently moved from Alaska to Texas and youre
feeling a little homesick, chances are that the last thing you
want to see when you turn on your TV is snow. Combine a snowy
screen with that loud, obnoxious static sound, and youve
got a problem on your hands. Fortunately you dont have
to be techie to fix your cable box just follow these
simple troubleshooting steps to get picture back in no time.
Cable Box Basics
Make sure your cable box is plugged in. I know that sounds silly,
but after troubleshooting these things over the phone professionally,
you can trust me on this one. Save yourself the time and embarrassment
of calling a professional just to have them tell you to plug
it in. That goes for the rest of the essential equipment as
well (i.e. TV, VCR or DVR if youre running the signal
through one, etc.). It wouldnt hurt to make sure the TV
is on the correct channel usually channel 3 or 4 or one
of the input channels.
Make sure all the cables are connected. Even if youre
TV and cable box are both turned on, you wont see a picture
unless they are connected. Check each connection to ensure it
is tight and that none of the wires or connecting pieces is
damaged. Also check to see that the connections are all correct
meaning, video and audio should be going out of your
cable or satellite box to your TV in ports. The
signal should follow a logical path. If the connections are
correct but youre still not seeing any picture, replace
the cables to see if that solves the problem. If youre
running the signal through a DVR or VCR and having problems,
skip the middle man and plug the cables straight from the box
to the TV. If you get a picture you know youre problem
is in the VCR.
After making sure everything is on and the cable connections
are all correct, try rebooting your system. Each companys
receivers have different methods of rebooting, but one fairly
universal way is to unplug the box for 10 to 20 seconds and
then plug it back in. Do not just turn the box off and back
on again youll need to actually pull the plug out
of the wall and then put it back in again. Once the cable box
is plugged back in, turn the power on and cross your fingers.
If youre still not receiving any picture, unplug the receiver
again for up to one minute and then plug it back in. This may
be tedious and time-consuming, especially when youre missing
the fight of the year or the Super Bowl, but give it the full
minute youll spend less time doing it yourself
than you will waiting for a repairman to come out and fix it.
Fuzzy Picture or Sound
If you are getting a picture but no sound; or sound but no picture;
or a fuzzy picture or sound, recheck the cable connections to
make sure they are tightened and that the wires or connecting
pieces are undamaged. Poor picture or sound is typically caused
by one of three problems: poor wire connections, signal interference,
or TV settings.
Going outside to make sure nothing is interfering with your
signal will help with the second problem. Of course, if you
have underground cables there is not much you can do about making
sure they are clear of interference (thats read, Your
neighbor cut through it while gardening). If you have
a satellite dish, know that excessive rain or snow buildup on
the dish can cause signal interference. Use caution when checking
your dish, especially if it is on your roof or some other hard-to-reach
place around your house. The installer should have verified
that no trees or other objects would interfere with your signal
from the satellites, but take a quick look around to see if
new foliage is blocking the signal. If it is not on your property,
do not cut or remove anything without prior permission from
the property owner.
Finally, adjusting your TV settings can help when you are receiving
a clear signal and all the connections are fine. Horizontal
and vertical settings are the adjustments that most often need
to be made, but consulting your owners manual can give
you a better indication of other settings that can be tweaked.
Troubleshooting requires patience, so make some lemonade, roll
up your sleeves, and get started. If none of these suggestions
work (9 times out of 10 they will), contact your service provider.
They may have additional troubleshooting steps or resources
they can make available to you to get your cable or satellite
TV up and running.
About the Author
Nick Smith is a client account specialist with 10x Marketing
- More Visitors. More Buyers. More Revenue. To find out how
to replace your cable box with a digital satellite receiver,
check out I-Satellite.