I’m not a repairman, but I played one on our TV

Emmitt B. Feldner  for The Review

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our columnist is incapacitated – which is a lot better than most of the places he’s usually found in – so we’re reprinting this blast from the past this week.

After all these years of spam, Facebook, IM and “forward this to 10 friends in 10 minutes or you will die” emails, we finally saved some money thanks to the Internet.

Doing a little research on the Internet saved us a $300 or $400 repair bill on our 40-inch LCD high-definition television recently.

That’s not enough to pay for all those years of Internet access from various phone and cable television companies, but it was better than having to go out and buy a new television.

It all started a few weeks ago when we tried to turn on the television set and it wouldn’t come on – at all.

I tried everything – every remote control we had in the house; the power button on the front of the set; I even tried candlelight, romantic music and whispering sweet nothings in its ear – and the set still wouldn’t turn on.

The television was only a little more than 3 years old, so I didn’t think we could have burned it out that fast – even with our grandson Aiden watching every cartoon and Disney movie he could find on it over the past several years.

We managed to finally find the manual for the set after a lengthy search – I think I remember trying to burn or bury it when we first got the television and I tried to follow the instructions in the manual for setting it up.

That was about as much help now as it was getting the thing set up in the first place.

Under troubleshooting, for “If power doesn’t come on,” it said “Check to make sure set is plugged in,” and nothing more.

Thanks, folks – I already tried that, and even tried plugging it into different outlets to see if that was the problem.

The only recourse left was the dreaded phone call to customer support.

It was a Saturday afternoon when the problem arose, but I went ahead and made the call then anyway. After all, product support is supposed to be 24/7, isn’t it?

I actually reached a woman who was very apologetic that our set wouldn’t turn on, although that didn’t help at all.

She directed me to their product support desk. They told me it would be $110 for a technician to come and run a $45 diagnostic test to determine what was wrong with our television. Then it would be another $110 for another technician visit, plus the cost of the board that had to be replaced - either a $100 power board or a $130 main board.

And then, they wouldn’t be able to get a technician to our place until the end of the week – maybe because the technical support number I had to call was somewhere in Florida, although we’ve made the trip from Florida in far less than five days ourselves.

Faced with the prospect of $350 to $400 to fix our television, I decided to do a little search online to see if anyone else had ever had this problem.

It turned out there were whole chat rooms full of people who had experienced the same problem with the same brand of television.

From there, I found a blog someone had posted on how he fixed the same problem on his television.

It seems there were a couple of capacitors on the power board that are prone to burning out, as the originals are undersized for the task. It was simply a matter of going to the local electronics store, buying new capacitors – for less than $2 each – and replacing them.

Of course, it meant taking the set apart and getting the power board out. Fortunately, the Internet came to my rescue again.

Although there were enough screws to hold a battleship together, I finally got the back of the set off, only to find that what was inside it didn’t look anything like the pictures in the blog I’d found.

It seems we had a different model, but I was able to find a video on You Tube that was not only for our model, but also showed exactly how to take the board out and replace the capacitors.

The narrator of the video was a woman who kept repeating “I’m only a woman, not an electrician” as she took her set apart, so that was enough to keep me plowing ahead.

I found only two capacitors blown, which I bought and replaced. It wound up taking longer to get all the screws back in the set to put it back together, but I got it done and the set is working as well as it ever did.

And it only cost us $4 instead of $400. That’s a savings I can enjoy.

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