Why is my TV remote not controlling volume?

Check the Remote’s Batteries

One of the most common reasons a TV remote may stop controlling volume is that the batteries are dead or dying. As batteries start to lose power, the remote’s range and responsiveness will begin to suffer. The remote may still work somewhat when you’re very close to the TV and press buttons for an extended time, but performance will degrade [1].

Try replacing the batteries in the remote to see if that restores full functionality. Make sure to insert fresh batteries in the correct orientation based on the polarity symbols (+ and -). Alkaline batteries are generally recommended for remotes. You may need to re-pair or reprogram the remote after changing the batteries.

Check for obstructions

One common cause of remote control issues is something physically blocking the infrared (IR) sensor on the TV. This prevents the sensor from receiving the signals sent out by the remote.

The IR sensor is typically located near the front of the TV either along the bottom edge or on the left/right side. For example, on many Sony TVs the sensor is on the lower right corner of the screen (1). For Apple TV models, it’s located on the front left side (2).

Carefully inspect the sensor area and make sure nothing is obstructing it, including dust, shelves, media players, decorations, etc. Even transparent objects can interfere with the signal.

Also try pointing the remote directly at the TV sensor from close range, about 5-10 feet away. If the buttons work properly when aimed straight at the TV, then something is likely blocking the sensor from receiving the signal at wider angles.

Clearing any obstructions from the sensor area can often resolve remote control issues and restore normal operation.

Try reprogramming or pairing the remote

If your original remote is still available, consult your TV manual on how to properly pair or sync the remote. There is usually a specific button sequence to press on both the remote and TV set to connect them. For example, on many LG TVs you press and hold the power and settings buttons on the remote while powering on the TV to initiate pairing mode.

If you have lost your original remote and are using a universal or replacement remote, you will need to program it to control your TV. Most universal remotes have a programming mode that allows you to search for and connect to your TV brand. According to this source, common steps include:

  • Press and hold the TV button on the remote
  • While still holding TV, press and hold the Power button until the remote light blinks
  • Enter the 3, 4, or 5 digit code for your TV brand
  • Test the volume buttons to see if it worked. Try other codes if not.

Refer to your universal remote’s included instructions for detailed pairing steps. With some trial and error, you should be able to reprogram and control your TV’s volume again.

Test volume buttons

A common issue is that the volume buttons on the remote simply stop working properly. Try pressing the volume up/down buttons several times in a row to see if the volume changes at all. Rapidly press the mute button on and off as well to test if that enables and disables the sound.

According to Sony (source), if the volume cannot be adjusted with the remote control buttons, a power reset of the TV may help resolve the issue. The mute button in particular should be able to turn the sound on and off if functioning normally.

Checking if the volume and mute buttons work as expected is a quick first troubleshooting step before moving on to more involved solutions. Try mashing the volume and mute buttons several times in different ways to rule out intermittent failures.

Check audio settings

One of the most common reasons a remote may not be controlling TV volume is because the audio settings are not configured correctly. There are two main things to check:

First, make sure the TV audio output is set to the built-in TV speakers rather than an external audio system like a soundbar or AV receiver. The TV manual or audio settings menu should have an option to select “TV speakers” or disable external audio output.

Second, verify that the TV volume itself is not muted or turned down very low. Check for a mute button on the remote that may have been accidentally pressed. Also go into the audio settings menu and make sure volume is set at an audible level and not zeroed out or minimized.

If the volume controls still don’t work after ensuring the TV speakers are active and volume is turned up, there may be a deeper technical issue. But in many cases, the problem is simply incorrect audio configurations, and resetting the TV sound back to the internal speakers at a regular volume level resolves remote control problems.

For further troubleshooting tips, see this guide on resolving no sound issues on TVs.

Try a different remote

Trying a different remote from another device can be an effective way to determine if the issue is with your original remote or the TV itself. For example, you could borrow the remote from a DVD player or cable box to see if you’re able to control the TV’s volume with the other device’s remote. If the other remote successfully controls the volume, then the issue likely lies with your original remote being faulty or needing new batteries.

If another remote is able to control the volume, you may want to consider purchasing a replacement remote specifically for your TV. Replacement remotes can often be found online for most TV models and brands. Amazon, eBay, and the TV manufacturer’s website are good places to search for a replacement remote. Just make sure to find one that is compatible with your exact TV model. Buying a new remote is often cheaper than having the TV serviced if the issue is with the original remote.

Trying a different remote first can help narrow down where the issue lies before pursuing more expensive and time consuming troubleshooting steps. If another remote also fails to control the volume, then the problem is likely within the TV itself rather than the remote. But swapping in a working remote from another device is an easy initial test that could provide a quick fix.

Reset the TV

If the remote is still not working properly after trying the steps above, you may need to reset the TV to factory default settings. This will clear any incorrect settings that could be causing issues with the remote.

First, unplug the TV from the power outlet for 30 seconds. This will reset the TV’s internal components and refresh the settings. After 30 seconds, plug the power back in and turn on the TV.

Once the TV is on, try using the buttons on the TV set to access the settings menu. Look for an option like “Factory Reset” or “Reset to Default.” Select this to erase all custom settings and restore the original factory defaults.1

If you cannot access the reset option through the menus, you may need a universal remote to perform the factory reset. Some TV manufacturers have specific reset codes that can be entered on universal remotes.2

Resetting the TV should clear up any setting issues preventing the remote from working properly. After the reset, try pairing the remote again according to the manufacturer instructions.

Update TV software

If your remote stops controlling the volume, it may be due to an outdated TV software version. Check your TV manufacturer’s website for available firmware updates that can be downloaded and installed. For example, Sony provides instructions on updating Sony Bravia televisions via USB.

To update, download the firmware file from the manufacturer to a USB flash drive. Make sure the USB drive is formatted properly. Insert the USB drive into your TV’s USB port and follow the on-screen instructions. Updating to the latest firmware can potentially fix remote volume issues caused by software bugs.

However, without a working remote it may be difficult to navigate the menus to install an update. If the TV has a way to accept the update via USB without using the remote, that could be an option. Or try using buttons on the TV itself, if available. As a last resort, you may need to get a replacement or programmable remote to install firmware updates.

Check CEC settings

Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) is a feature that allows devices to communicate and control one another over HDMI. If CEC is enabled on your TV, the remote from one device (e.g. DVD player) can control basic functions on another device (e.g. TV volume).

Sometimes CEC can cause interference that prevents your TV remote from working properly. Try going into your TV settings and toggling CEC on and off to see if that resolves the issue.

The steps to disable CEC vary by TV brand and model. Look for settings like “HDMI Control”, “Bravia Sync Control”, “Anynet+”, “Aquos Link”, or “Simplink” in your TV menu. Turn these settings off and then try using your TV remote again.

If turning CEC off fixes your remote, you can leave it disabled or try turning it back on again later. The CEC behavior can reset after power cycling devices. Just be aware this setting can cause remote conflicts, so you may need to disable it for seamless remote operation.

Get professional service

If you’ve tried all the troubleshooting steps and your TV remote still isn’t controlling the volume, it’s time to call in a professional TV repair technician. TV repair techs have the skills, experience, and equipment to properly diagnose and fix all kinds of TV issues.

A technician will first diagnose the problem, which may involve checking connections, testing components, and investigating the remote, motherboard, sound settings, and other parts of your TV. If they determine a hardware component needs to be replaced, such as the remote control board or audio IC chip, they can order and install the new part.

TV repair costs can vary widely based on the make and model of your TV, type of repair needed, and your location. According to Home Guide, expect to pay anywhere from $60 for a basic diagnostic service call up to $500 or more for extensive repairs on large, high-end TVs [1]. Getting your TV fixed by a professional ensures the job is done right the first time.

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