After a wonderful visit at my parents' house for the Christmas holidays, I came back to a broken TV. It gave no sign or warning in advance. Attempt to power on, and I could hear the relay switch clicking repeatedly; no image on the screen. Of course, this all happened at one of the worst times possible - when on a date. Needless to say I was not happy for a variety of reasons!

The TV itself was expensive so it made sense to try and repair it. Hadn't pulled out the old soldering iron in years, and was skeptical at first whether or not I would just be wasting my time!

Samsung TV

Fortunately, a couple co-workers of mine had recently done a bit of computer monitor repair in the office. One of them now has a great wall of monitors after hijacking a couple discarded ones when the interns left and being able to repair an old discarded one. Keep thinking I'll put in a purchase order to get a couple extra monitors myself, but my desk space is rather limited. In any case figuring today's TVs are nothing more than glorified computer monitors, I figured perhaps there were some common issues to troubleshooting such problems

Couldn't have been more spot on. In any large appliance, the power supplies are usually the prime suspect. More specifically the capacitors. Cylindrical caps are supposed to have a flat top. They deliberately have perforations for when they inevitably blow, they at least do so in a predictable manner.

Most caps in consumer electronics have an expected lifetime of 10 years with average use. What's odd in my situation is I don't use my TV nearly as often as the average consumer, and I've only had it for about five years! Something wasn't right.

Turns out back in 2008 Samsung had decided to change their outsourcing to China and a several of their product lines had a serious defect built into them. This was severe enough to cause a class action lawsuit. If I had been aware or bothered to register my TV, I probably would have been notified and been eligible for up to $300 in repair costs. Unfortunately this waiver was only good up through March 2, 2012 (you know, because things stop breaking when they get older)

I figured with nothing to lose, why not attempt a repair myself? I took off the backplate of the TV (a painful process, there were nearly 30 screws!) and scanned the power supply unit for bulging capacitors. A couple blue caps had a faint bulge to them, everything else looked normal. Turns out the lawsuit was a result of the power supply using 10V rated capacitors on 12V rails.

After a quick trip to Frys for components, I de-soldered the busted caps, and soldered new ones on (make note of the polarity before de-soldering!) The clicking stopped, and the TV powers on normally again. With luck, maybe I'll at least get those other five years I'd been expecting to have out of it.

Busted Capacitor