TV remote

All of us have had a problem with TV remotes from time to time. You have to press the buttons several times before the TV responds or you have to aim it directly at the TV before it works properly. Well, after having several neighbors ask me about this, I decided to tell the world a few things to try to get your TV remote functioning properly again.

Physical Issues

The majority of the time, the problem is a physical one…something is physically wrong with the TV remote. The most common problem is bad batteries.

Replace your batteries – The first thing your should do, if a properly functioning remote starts acting up, is to replace the batteries with good, high quality alkaline batteries. Many of today’s TV remotes perform many functions and can drain batteries quickly, especially if you have to hold down the buttons for long periods of time. Backlighted remotes will also drain batteries quickly. With this heavy drain, standard batteries and rechargeable batteries don’t last near as long as good, fresh alkaline batteries.

Clean the remote and TV – Another common problem is a dirty remote. Keep your remote clean! A dirty remote will cause buttons to stick or just not function. Please see your owner’s manual on how to do this properly.

TV remotes work using light (in this case it is infrared light so you can’t see it) to send information from the TV remote to your TV, DVD players, etc. When the TV, DVD player, etc. receives the information from the remote, it decodes it to figure out what you want done. So keep the plastic window in the front of the remote clean so all of the infrared light gets to the TV. The other end, that most people forget about, is the TV, DVD player or Tivo itself. Keep it’s infrared window clean as well. Check your owner’s manual for the location of each infrared window and how to clean them properly. And please take off the pieces of tape that were put on at the factory to protect the remote and the TV! They may look clear but they interfere with the infrared signal strength.

Check out the remote itself – Look the remote over. Is it physically damaged? If so, you might consider replacing it. Remotes can take a lot of abuse but they can break and should be replaced if they are too badly damaged. Back in the day, remotes were expensive or hard to find but today they can be had for under $20.


Believe it or not, infrared TV remotes are affected by the environment that they are in:

TV placement – How you have the TV, DVD or Tivo setup could effect the infrared remote that you are trying to use with it. Check your owner’s manual for the location of the infrared receiver window that your remote is trying to talk to. Now hold your remote like you normally would and put your head close to the remote. Can you actually see the infrared receiver window clearly? Many people put their TV, DVD or Tivo too far back on a shelf or put DVDs or cords in front of the infrared receiver window causing the infrared signal to have to bounce of something to be seen. Putting the infrared receiver window in plain sight will improve your remote’s performance!

Lighting – With everyone trying to save money these days, many people are switching over to fluorescent bulbs from incandescent bulbs (normal light bulbs). This can be bad for your infrared remote. When trying to use an infrared remote in a room illuminated by fluorescent bulbs, the fluorescent light will cause interference for the infrared signal. This causes the infrared signal to be weakened or garbled, so either way, the TV has a hard time figuring out what’s gone on. Either turn off the fluorescent lights or replace them with normal light bulbs in this room.

Room itself – Yes, the room itself can effect your infrared remote! Dark walls and cloth drapes/curtains will not reflect the infrared signal from your remote very well (if at all). If your entertainment center/TV isn’t in a lightly colored room with few drapes/curtains, be sure to aim the remote directly at the infrared receiver window on your TV, DVD or Tivo.


In short, to get the best out of your TV remote, give it fresh alkaline batteries, keep it clean, take good care of it and keep the infrared receiver window in plain sight.