Introduction: Repair Your Remote Controls

Picture of Repair Your Remote Controls

I have repaired a quite a few faulty remote controls and most often they are repairable.
Getting a programmable remote is one way to solve the problem but the functionality and locations of the keys may not be satisfactory.
Repairing your remote should give you more satisfaction as you get to keep the remote you are used to.

Common faults are: some buttons not working, not working at all, corroded battery terminals. Often buttons are sticky because of some dirt accumulated over the years from the sticky little hands of your kids?
The hardest part of repair is often to open the covers. You do not need much experience in electronics repair to repair a remote. Also it is perfectly safe as there is no way to get an electric shock as they work with batteries.

Step 1: Test Your Remote With Digital Camera

Picture of Test Your Remote With Digital Camera

Check your batteries first or buy new batteries. Once you have good batteries, you can test with a digital camera by pushing the buttons and having camera on and pointing to the infrared led. You should see red light if the remote is working. If no light comes up you obviously have a dead remote but do not despair and procede to the next step

Step 2: Open the Remote Control But There Is a Catch or a Few Catches.

Picture of Open the Remote Control But There Is a Catch or a Few Catches.

Remove the screws if any. Sometimes screws may be hidden under a sticker or rubber feet. Often there are no screws at all but just plastic catches hidden so you have to be clever to open it without breaking the case. Use something blunt and flat toclick the covers open. This is often a challenge but should not be too difficult.

Step 3: Take a Picture of Every Phase So You Remember How to Re-assemble

Picture of Take a Picture of Every Phase So You Remember How to Re-assemble

Since you are using a digital camera you might as well take pictures of the disassembly so re-assemly will be easier.

Step 4: Pull Everything Apart

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Did you take a picture of the keyppad layout? Sometimes keypad is just one rubber membrane but sometimes the keys fall away like pieces of a Lego puzzle. And if the buttons are marked with numbers and functions you may struggle to re-assemble them in right order?
Use a small plastic takeaway box or similar to store the bits so you don't lose parts.

Step 5: Inspect the Circuit Board and Repair Dry Joints

Picture of Inspect the Circuit Board and Repair Dry Joints

Remotes are often dropped on the floor and may develope dry joints on the battery contacts or circuit board. Inspect the contacts and circuit board under good light with a magnifying lense or if lucky you might have a microscope or just a very good eyesight? Solder all suspicious joints. If there is a sign of water damage you can use methylated spirits and toothbrush to clean out the circuit board.
Sometimes I have washed the circuitboard with soapy warm water, good rinse after that and drying with a hair dryer. I would not recommend the same treatment for you cellphone as some components do not like water.

Step 6: Wash the Covers and the Buttons

Picture of Wash the Covers and the Buttons

Use a smal bowl or similar to wash and contain all the parts so you don't lose bits down the drain. Use old toothbrush to clean all button holes and buttons. Warm water with dishwash liquid does the job. Take particular care with those small buttons and clean them properly. If you can leave the bits to soak overnight they come clean easy. Ultrasonic cleaner would be good for this job but most people do not have one in their cupboard.

Step 7: Rinse, Drain and Dry the Parts

Picture of Rinse, Drain and Dry the Parts

Rinse with warm water. Use a drainer to contain all the parts without losing small bits down the drain. As extra security use sink plug. Dry with a paper towel. Wipe the buttons dry individually as they may still have some dirt which makes them sticky when in use.

Step 8: Repair Case and Re-assemble

Picture of Repair Case and Re-assemble

If there is damage to the case or buttons you need to do the required repairs. Use hot glue or super glue depending on fault. Let dry overnight if you had to glue something.
Re-assemble bits in reverse order and make sure you have the buttons in right place and right way around. Small nicks and dents on plastic cover can often be repaired by heating carefully with a hair dryer. Do not use a lighter with a flame as it is too easy to burn the plastic. May be you can get rid of some dog bite marks on the remote if they are not too deep?

In case of lost fallen out IR LED you can use second hand LED out of other remote you no longer use or buy one from Electronics hobbyist supplier. Make sure you get the polarity right or you need to get another one.

Step 9: Test With Digital Camera

Picture of Test With Digital Camera

Test every button as before. Sometimes you have to push two remote buttons simultaneously as with recording buttons on my Panasonic VCR.
Once you have completed test with your camera you can use the remote. Thats it, I hope you got it going again?


james.rjp (author)2017-11-07

Hi, my remote's leds light up correctly but the hi-fi it controls doesn't respond. Is it possible for the sensor in the hi-fi to fail or any other suggestions ?

pellepeloton made it! (author)2016-10-21

As an author of this instructable I started following page:
More repair tips for electronic gadgets.

I deleted that page on Facebook because they tried to get money from me to promote my page.
As this Istructables page, I was doing that FB as non-profit shareware so I am not going to pay to promote it?

Jose VicenteT made it! (author)2017-04-03

My led emmiter was unsoldered, maybe some crash at floor.

Great trick to use digital cammera to see if it's working....

5minutes and controller was repaired.


I discover

SarahL153 (author)2016-06-04

To use my TV remote control I have to physically turn the TV off by hand, then switch it on again and then wait about 10 seconds before it will operate by the remote. It then works fine, changes channels etc, but once I use it to turn the TV onto standby, after the 10 second delay, the same happens, it looses its ability to work so I have to go back to the TV, turn it off then on again, wait the 10 seconds and then the remote will work again, which is really annoying as this TV is in my bedroom ! Would really appreciate it if anyone knows why and can tell me how to get rid of this really annoying fault.....

VictorN16 (author)2016-02-09

I have found that the squiggly lines under the buttons are the culprit. I clean them with surgical spirit and dry clean with cotton buds. It works for two weeks and i have to do it again. Is there a better solution? Appreciate if u can drop a reply to

bordfixer (author)2015-01-27

After soldering any joints on a circuit board, it's very important to clean those solder joints with isopropyl alcohol or flux cleaner and let them dry.

pellepeloton (author)bordfixer2016-01-24

That is what I did at work but last time I asked isopropyl alcohol the pharmasist refused to sell it! I might have been looking a bit rough that day, lol

Davidlyhua85 (author)2015-11-08

I am having trouble with a TiVo remote, when I press a button, the LED lights up and stays on, then after that none of the buttons work. The only way to make the LED turn off is to take out the battery and put it back in but then as soon as I press a button again the LED will light up and stay lit again. Do you think following your procedure will fix it? Or could there be a problem with the actual microchip?

It is rarely the chip. Hard to tell without seeing it.

MCeee (author)2015-11-14

I had a problem with a remote with a new CD player. I put in fresh batteries, twice, and it still would not work. I had the company send me a new remote, and that one didn't work, either. The batteries appeared perfectly installed (correct polarity, stayed in place, the door closed over them). I thought maybe it was the CD player sensor. I tried the infrared camera test, and both remotes were not working. I took the batteries out of one of them, and noticed the negative terminal springs were very firm. I got the idea to try to get the springs to be "springier" by stuffing the batteries in reverse, so the "button" on the positive terminal would force in the negative terminal springs and make them softer and "springier" (thus a firmer hold). I then reinstalled the batteries in the correct direction, with the negative side of the batteries against the springs. It worked! The remote infrared worked. I don't know if it was the springs not allowing proper contact of the terminals, or maybe what I did dislodged some corrosion or dust, but it worked.

pellepeloton (author)MCeee2016-01-24

Good to hear and 10 points for persistence :)

KadyM (author)2015-05-28

Thanks, guys!! This stuff works. Definitely!!!

amorarun (author)2015-03-25

Very useful tip I should remember before buying a replacement, thanks for sharing

ashmika0072000 (author)2014-05-14

how to find out the frequency at which the remote is working?

Some sort of frequency counter should do the job. But in my job as a TV technician, I never needed to know the frequency. It either worked or not.

eileen.gery (author)2015-01-12

Thanks. I did it and restored almost all the buttons that didn't work.

cgosh (author)2014-04-25

Great advice all around. For those who need to change the IR LED, some simple tips. One edge on the plastic "can" is usually flat; next to the negative (ground) lead. On a new LED, one lead is longer than the other; that's the positive (hot) lead. To make them easy to remember, the ground/flat side would be easy to mount flat against the large grounded foil area on a circuit board, while you'll need a long positive lead to connect the LED to something important that powers it.

itiered (author)2014-03-04

Thank you for this! Was able to repair a remote that was the last one in the house to run my cable box from Scientific America!

conundrum2063 (author)2013-11-16

Another method to fix these if the IR is flashing slowly but still no remote action is to replace the ceramic resonator on the board.
Don't worry too much if it isn't an exact frequency or colour match because the receiver in most if not all TVs has a wide range.
You may find that this fixes stubborn remotes where nothing else does :-)

conundrum2063 (author)2013-11-16

Hi, the camera test diagnosed a failed IRED on my Sony remote.
For those who run into this problem, the best bet is to either harvest one from another unit or simply use the ones sold on *bay for making night vision cameras.
You will need to solder it though unless you happen to have heatshrink and a steady hand to cut the wires to length.
I have also used tape sensor LEDs harvested from a defunct VCR before but these don't work quite as well as the correct part.

pellepeloton (author)2013-10-20

133196 views on 21 today so I must have helped to rescue a few remotes from the tip :)

msremote (author)2013-09-03

of course you can try to fix it, sometimes the problem is in the battery compartment,
the spring doesn't make contact with battery, you need to to pull the spring to make it longer. If the problem is in the circuit board, probably it doesn't make sense to fix it because solder is not that cheap. It is true that universal remote control is not your best choice, however you can get Miracle Remote for most popular tv brands, they work almost all functions of your original tv remote and you don't need to program them - fraction of the price of your original tv remote,

mbunda (author)2012-07-24

wow thanks no need to buy new f u can repaired the old one

pellepeloton (author)mbunda2012-07-24

You are welcome mbunda:)

Replacing the original with new one would cost a bit if you can get the original remote?
Getting an universal replacement remote is not good either as there would be missing functions and different design.
So repairing the original one makes a lot of sense. As it is faulty anyway, you got nothing to lose but time and patience perhaps.
Often the hardest part is how to open the covers?
In case of wireless remotes working with batteries the is no cjance of getting an electric shock. So have a go and let me know what you think was wrong with your remote?

klaviatury (author)2012-02-02

Your remote is blasphemy and should be shot. I recommend upgrading to the Yamaha MCX-RC100BL.

flobbie (author)2011-12-11

The remote for my Samsung STB has become unreliable (simply from wear and tear). I can fix it every time (so far) by removing the battery cover and squirting in contact/circuit board cleaner which comes in a pressure pack and has a fine tube you can insert in the hole revealed when you remove the battery cover. Squirting the stuff on and around the keys which are not working also works sometimes..
I squirt the stuff in until it is sloshiing around inside and coming out through the keys,
Sounds drastic, but it works (so far). The alcohol-based liquid evaporates quickly and does not have much odor.

guguhema (author)flobbie2012-01-27

bayyagg (author)2011-07-10

Hey! The problem usually some of the buttons are not working........ This 100% guaranteed to clean the carbon contact for that remote! Use ur soldering iron, heat it up, and get that hot iron tip into those carbon contacts ( don't worry nowadays remote are made of silicone and they don't melt with high temp. ). you will notice the glossiness of the carbon become matte black!

roberthellier37 (author)2009-05-28

Hi there thought i let you guys know this... as i a a deaf tv engineer... as i wear hearing aids... if i put my hearing aid on to T for telephone setting.. and place the remote next to my hearing aid.... i can hear the blips or beebs of the remote button when pressed... i discovered another way if you have a old MW or AM radio tune it onto a static station and place remote near by and press buttons you should hear blips,beeps etc there are different beeps for all makes of remotes. hope that helps.. Rob in UK

Thanks Rob, Interesting, I will check this one out. Maybe it is because remotes have a xtal which gives out radio frequency?

I can't say which radio setting is best all remote tend to be different.... I have used it on MW and AM frequency... just make sure there isn't a radio station coming through..... it has to be on static channel..... but not completely static.... try on LW setting too..... or buy a remote sensor with flashing LED.... you can buy them on a Key ring so thats useful for home visits... I couldn't just stick a remote on my ear in front of people or they think I am strange lol.

omnibot (author)roberthellier372010-09-01

I've played with this using an old walkman by extending the audio-head and using that to detect the emf. Remotes don't use radiofrequency, the xtal is there as timing for the IC.

pellepeloton (author)omnibot2010-09-03

Most domestic AV remote controls use infrared LED's and some may use radio frequency? So those IR LED remotes are best to be tested with digital camera. My MB van remote key uses radio frequency so that needs preferably a spectrum analyser to test. As I do not have a spectrum analyser or do not know anybody who have one, I might try some radio receiver to test my MB remote?

pellepeloton (author)2010-08-28

Some young person could start a business repairing remotes. It takes about 10 to 20 minutes to repair one and sending remotes by mail is cheap.

neverlast (author)2010-03-02

A good way to open up remote controls without damaging them is to
use a guitar picku (thin-medium) since its flexible yet thin enough to get
into the gaps.

powerboxx16 (author)2009-11-02

you can also use the camera on your mobile phones

pellepeloton (author)powerboxx162009-11-03

Yes you are right, any digital or video camera will work.. Even you webcam on the laptop will work.

hanjwint (author)2009-09-09

i fixed it! yay! i didnt think i would actually be able to just fix my remote but all it was was a dry socket, woop woop! thanks!

Stew2 (author)2009-08-28

That camera thing to test the remote is so cool! I have kind of gained the rep of remote repair guy in my family over the years. Sure, it's easy to go out and buy a universal remote, but they never seem to have the same functionality as the original remote... Especially those for satellite receivers and cable boxes. Plus, I don't like throwing things out if they can be fixed. Only thing that never ceases to amaze me is the amount of crud/oil/soda that seems to accumulate in these things! Again though, digital camera tip is awesome! Thank you :)

Ideal_Ideas91 (author)2009-06-27

I use to have a remote just like this but it was of a different brand and had less buttons. Those remotes I remeber worked nice and the numbers didnt fade away!

hoey78 (author)2008-11-09

step 5 worked for me. i.e cleaned the battery terminals and bingo! 1 remote fixed Thanks

STANMAR725 (author)2008-10-22

I've repaired some old remotes and always give the metal switch contacts a good cleaning using one of those ink pen erasers. The grit on the eraser will not damage the metal contacts, but will clean up the tarnish/oxidation. You can tell if the contacts are cleaned because they will shine after you are done.

pellepeloton (author)STANMAR7252008-10-29

Good point, I have done the same but forgot to mention it.

edwb219 (author)2008-06-12

Hi, I have found out where you can go to have your remote repaired. Simply go to The remote doctor and follow the 3 simple steps and its only $23.00. They where able to fix my remote and get it back within 10 days. They're great!!!

-smuli- (author)2008-04-18

Thanks from your tips, now my remote control is working again :)

MiniDIYGuy (author)2008-02-27

My Success with Faulty Buttons Repair
Sometimes even after thorough cleaning, I still find some buttons not functioning and have discovered that this has to do with a lost of electrical conductivity in the pad. A quick solution I've devised and implemented successfully is by using ordinary kitchen aluminum foils.

I've posted detailed info at my blog
This method is still helping me to sustain my favorite universal remote for over 7 years now.

pellepeloton (author)MiniDIYGuy2008-03-03

Thanks for that, I was wondering how to repair non-functional buttons?

MiniDIYGuy (author)pellepeloton2008-03-03

I suppose you haven't read the blog in the link provided:

It specifically deals with repairing non-functional buttons. Hope it works for you.

clanger (author)2008-03-03

great instructable ,you can see if LED is working by viewing it through your mobile phone camera you will be able to see it flashing if its working

About This Instructable




Bio: If I got a dollar for every remote control I helped to repair, I would be rich but I have not got a cent.
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