RCA is a historic brand known worldwide for its solidity and quality. They make smart TVs that come with either webOS or Roku platform pre-installed.
Although RCA TVs are very reliable, they do run into problems from time to time. One of the common problems is when your RCA TV wont turn ON.
There might be many reasons but a quick power cycle can fix most of them. To power cycle your RCA TV:
Unplug your RCA TV from the wall and wait for 60 seconds. Now, press & hold the POWER button for 30 seconds. Plug the TV back in and turn it ON.
Pressing and holding the power button discharges all capacitors and drains any residual charges from the circuit.
After that, your RCA TV will reboot fresh.
If the malfunction is because of a more serious hardware or software issue, follow the below troubleshooting guide to locate and fix the problem.
This troubleshooting guide is written for regular users and does not include repair instructions for professionals.
RCA TV wont turn ON – Possible reasons
Your RCA TV can be ROKU or Non-ROKU. A TV is a complex machine with many electronic parts that work together to produce a clear image on the screen.
This unison is often disturbed by software or hardware glitches that will stop your TV from turning ON.
Main parts of RCA TV
Before we troubleshoot the problem, let’s briefly discuss the main parts of your RCA TV. I am not going into technical details. This is just an overview.
Because malfunctioning parts can cause specific symptoms, it is important to know which one is defective. This makes troubleshooting very easy.
These are the four (4) major components of an LCD TV.
POWER SUPPLY: A circuit board located on the back of your TV, just below the cover, supplies the required voltage to the main control or motherboard.
This board contains numerous capacitors and small transformers that can blow up with voltage irregularities.
MOTHERBOARD: This is the core of any TV. It processes video from outside and sends signals to the TCON boards (timing control board) for display on the screen.
Although it rarely fails, it will need to be replaced completely if it does.
TCON BOARDS: The Timing Control Boards are located at the top or bottom of the LCD panel. They control the horizontal and vertical lines on your TV that produce an image.
Each TCON board controls half of the screen. If one TCON board fails, the picture will only show on one side of the screen.
BACKLIGHT: CCFL tubes or LED strips are used as backlights behind an LCD screen. They are used to illuminate the image. They can go bad quite often, especially the older CCFL tubes.
You will find these parts in other LED/LCD TVs as well, like Sanyo, Sony, and Toshiba.
We now have a good idea of a TV’s main components. Let’s look at some common problems with RCA TVs.
RCA TV problems & possible causes
|Signs of malfunction||Possible reasons|
|TV won’t turn ON – no red light||1. Power circuit failure (cord, wall switch)|
2. Power board is fried
|TV won’t turn ON – red light flashing||1. Power supply board is malfunctioning|
2. External voltage supply is low
|TV won’t turn ON – red light ON||1. Power supply is malfunctioning|
2. Power button is broken.
3. Remote is not working/dead batteries
|TV turns ON then OFF again||1. Capacitors on power board fried.|
|TV turns ON – audio is coming, but no video||1. TV backlight is fused|
2. Bad TCON board
|TV turns ON but a very dim picture on the screen||1. TV backlight array is fused|
|TV turns ON but only half screen is black||One of the TCON boards is faulty.|
|TV turns ON but there are horizontal/vertical lines||1. Bad TCON board.|
2. LCD ribbon panels are damaged
|TV turns ON with logo but shuts off again||1. The power board is faulty|
RCA TV not turning ON – Troubleshooting
As I said at the beginning of the article, this is more of a troubleshooting guide than a repair guide.
I have kept it as simple as possible so that every reader can understand.
Here are 8 different ways to troubleshoot your RCA TV. After identifying the problem, you can either fix it yourself or hire a professional to do the job.
If you are a bit of a DIY person, do the simple steps and try fixing it yourself first before you can get help.
That way, you might be able to save a few hundred bucks on repair costs. You can use these troubleshooting methods on other TVs as well like LG, Sharp, Samsung, and Sansui.
1. Check the power circuit
This should be your first step for any electronic device that won’t turn ON. If your RCA TV is not turning ON, first check if it is receiving power from the wall.
You would be surprised to know that half of the problems are due to a cut or loose cord or a shorted wall socket.
A simple but thorough check can save you money and headaches.
First, check the wall socket to see if it is providing the required current.
Doing that is really easy – just get another appliance, plug it into the same socket, and check if it is working. It can be a juicer or your vacuum cleaner, or any other thing.
You can also check the power using a voltage tester or a voltmeter. If the tester bulb lights up or the meter shows the correct voltage, that means the socket is working.
Next, check your TV power cord for any visible cuts or breaks. Power cords are notoriously unreliable, and long use makes them brittle and prone to cuts.
Usually, when the wall socket and the plug don’t make good electrical contact, they become hot and end up damaging the plug or the socket (or both)
Check the power cord for any signs of aging or damage. If you find any, that means you have to replace your cord before you can do any further troubleshooting.
A clear sign of power circuit failure is that you won’t get any signs of life on your RCA TV. There will either be no light, or the light will be flickering/flashing, indicating an insufficient power supply.
2. Power cycle your RCA TV
If your power circuit is working fine, the next troubleshooting step is to power cycle your RCA TV and see if it malfunctioned due to irregular electric charge build-up.
Power cycling is basically a fancy word for turning your TV OFF & ON again.
But unlike simple OFF/ON, we make sure to drain the circuit of the electrical charge during the process so that the system reboots fresh.
To power cycle your RCA TV, follow the below steps:
- Unplug the TV from the wall socket.
- Remove all the connected devices.
- Let the TV sit for 60 seconds.
- Press & hold the power button at the bottom for 30 seconds.
- Plug your TV back in and turn it ON.
What does power cycling do exactly? You might be wondering.
Your TV is basically a collection state machine with different components with 0 or 1 state. Capacitors, flipflops, logic gates, etc all work together to output the programmed results (video on your screen)
When your TV is used for a long time, it will occasionally run into an unstable combination of these different states.
In simple language, it will develop a “bug”.
When you run your TV through a power cycle and drain all the capacitors off their stored charge, the system is reset to its zero states, where all the systems are stable, and the TV reboots fresh.
That’s how power cycling will eliminate all the “bugs” that the system has developed over time. You can apply this simple fix to other TV brands as well that won’t turn on.
3. Check your RCA TV Remote
Sometimes, the problem is not your TV but your RCA remote controller.
If you see a standby light ON on your TV, but it is not responding to your remote button input, it is possible that your TV remote is not working.
To troubleshoot your remote, go through the following steps.
a. Replace remote batteries
First, get a new pair of batteries and replace your existing ones. This seems like a no-brainer, but many people will look elsewhere for the problem when it is actually dead batteries.
Always remember not to mix old and new batteries as that will create more problems due to a mismatch in cell voltages.
Always replace the old batteries with a fresh pair. Once the new batteries are in, check if you can turn your RCA TV ON now.
b. Clean your Remote
Remotes get in all sorts of places like below your sofa cushion, under the sofa, and in one of my cases, in the lawn under the bushes (thanks to my dog).
The remote picks up dirt and dust over time. This dust accumulates between the rubber buttons and the circuit board and prevents contact between the two; hence your remote button won’t work.
Cleaning your RCA remote is quite easy. There are not many moving parts in your remote.
All you have to do is open the screws, remove the cover, separate the button’s rubber from the board, clean both surfaces, and reassemble.
Also, clean the remote’s battery compartment as it too may accumulate dust and dirt. Here is a video demonstration of how to do it properly.
After thoroughly cleaning everything, put the parts together exactly as you opened it and screw in the cover.
c. Check your remote IR sensor
This is an easy check to see whether your remote is producing signals. Almost all remotes have an IR blaster LED on the front end that produces infrared light when buttons are pressed,
This Infrared light is not visible directly to the naked eye, but your phone camera can record it, and you can playback the recording to see the light.
To do this, turn your room lights OFF and point your RCA remote directly at your phone camera, press a few buttons, and record a video while doing so.
After you record the video, play it back and look for flashes of dim red light in your recorded video. Check the video below to see it.
If you see the IR flashes, that means your RCA remote IR sensor is good and working. If not, the IR LED is dead and will need a replacement.
d. Power cycle your TV remote
Just like your TV, your RCA remote can also go into an unstable state where it will stop working correctly.
To fix this, you must power cycle or power reset it to give it a fresh start. This will remove any temporary bugs or malfunctions.
To power cycle your RCA TV remote, remove the batteries, press & hold your power button for 30 seconds to drain any residual charge from capacitors.
Put the batteries back in and try your remote.
4. Check external video source
Sometimes, your TV is fine, but the video source is not working properly.
Most users rely on several devices to run their RCA TVs. I use a Roku stick for streaming connected to my TV via HDMI.
If you are using an external video source, it is a good idea to check it and see if it is working alright.
The quickest check would be to disconnect all devices and put your RCA TV in Live mode, where it can get signals from the Live TV source.
Even if you don’t have a Live TV connection, you will still get static and confirm your TV is okay.
If your TV is alive and showing even static, that means your external video source is faulty. It’s a good idea to switch to another source while you figure out what is wrong with the current one.
In most cases, an HDMI or VGA cable is at fault . You can get a new one and see if that solves the issue.
5. Remove all external devices
If you have power cycled your TV and your remote but can still not power on your RCA TV, the next step would be to remove all external devices to ensure they are not the source of the issue.
Smart TVs are connected to various external devices, including a TV box, LAN connection for the internet, gaming consoles via HDMI, and maybe a streaming device like Roku.
Although these devices seldom cause problems but is a good idea to eliminate them as suspects.
One by one, remove all your external devices and make sure the only wire connected to your TV is the power cord.
Now, try to turn ON your TV and see if you are getting a static screen or menu option. Any kind of display or sign of life is good as it confirms your TV is not totally broken.
6. Factory reset your RCA TV
Factory reset will revert your RCA TV back to its factory state and remove any and all custom configurations, apps, and accounts.
Factory reset is usually done to remove any software glitches from your TV’s firmware and give it a new start. It is quite easy to perform.
a. Reset using RESET Button/Pinhole
First, look for a RESET button or hole on the back side of the TV. Most RCA TV models don’t have a reset button, but some ROKU models do.
On some models, it’s a reset button that you can push with a finger, while on others, it’s a small pinhole that you can push with a pin.
Either way, if you find the button, push the reset button for 30 seconds while the TV is plugged in.
After 30 seconds, your TV should reboot itself, and you should see the RCA logo on the screen.
b. Reset RCA TV using the power button
RCA TV can be reset to factory settings by using the power button on the back or side of the RCA TV.
The power/input button on the side of the TV that you can use to reset your TV back to factory defaults. To do this, follow the steps below:
- Unplug your TV from the power and remove all external devices.
- On the left or right side of the TV, locate the power/input button.
- Press and hold the button for 30 seconds and plug the TV back in (while holding the button down)
- Keep holding the button till you see the RCA logo on the screen.
Your TV will revert back to factory defaults and will reboot. Check the below video to see this process in action.
If this still doesn’t work, we are going to check for any hardware issues so keep reading.
7. Check TV circuit boards for shorts
If nothing has worked so far in your troubleshooting efforts, it’s time to get a little more hands-on and remove the back cover.
Don’t worry. We are not going to do any actual repairs. We are just looking at the main components and seeing if they have visible signs of damage.
Place your TV face down on a soft surface (your bed or a tabletop with a towel beneath). Open up all the screws on the back cover and carefully remove the back cover.
Once the cover is removed, perform the below checks to see if you can find any abnormalities.
a. Check for blown capacitors heads
In any electric circuit board, capacitors are most prone to electrical damage. A slight surge in voltage can blow them.
Capacitor heads will bulge out when blown and are clearly visible upon inspection.
On the back of your RCA TV, you will find capacitors on the power supply board. Closely inspect these capacitors and see if their heads are flat or bulging out.
If any of the capacitor’s heads is bulged out, that means it is fried and needs to be replaced. This is also the most probable cause of your RCA TV not turning ON.
b. Check for burn or scorching marks
Besides the capacitors, check for any signs of burn or scorching on the circuit boards.
When a circuit board components short, it produces a high temperature before it fully blows and melts away. This shorting sometimes leaves a visible burn mark on the circuit board.
Look closely for any black marks around the main components. The short circuit components also leave a distinct smell of burning, so you can smell around the board and try to find any short circuit components.
If you find any such components that are fused, you will have to replace them at a repair center.
c. Check for shorts using a thermal camera
A more sophisticated way of finding a short-circuited RCA is to use a thermal camera and see for any hotspots while the TV is plugged in.
The thermal camera picks up abnormally high-temperature zones on the board that is usually signs of a short circuit.
However, not everyone owns a thermal camera. They are quite expensive, but if you have one lying around, you can use it.
You can also find a mobile phone mount thermal camera for a few hundred bucks. FLIR ONE makes great thermal camera units that you can attach to your iPhone and scan anything.
d. Check for loose connections
Another visual check you can do is look for any loose or broken connection between the boards and the screen.
When you open the back cover, you will see a few cables running between the different boards and to/from the screen panel.
Just quickly check and see if any of them is loose or cut.
If you find one such connection, it might cause your RCA TV to malfunction.
Here is a good video of inspecting the TV board and replacing faulty components.
8. Check for faulty backlights
All modern displays are backlit using either CCFL (Cold Cathode Florescent Lamps) or LED arrays. CCFL tubes are a bit older technology compared to modern LED TVs.
Like any light bulb, these light sources can go bad. Especially if you have an older model of RCA TV that uses CCFL tubes, it has a higher chance of fusing.
Modern LED-backlit TVs are more reliable, but they too go bad from voltage surges and prolonged use.
Checking faulty backlights is easy; you don’t even have to open your TV cover.
One clear sign of a bad backlight panel is that you will get sound, but you won’t see a picture on your screen.
To confirm this, just turn ON your TV, dim your room lights and point a flashlight at your TV screen from a few-inch distance. You will see a very dim picture and words on your screen.
This indicates that your TV is working fine, and it’s just the backlight panel that is not illuminating the picture on the screen.
Here is a good video explaining how to properly check for backlight issues using a flashlight.
However, fixing your backlight is not easy if you are not a DIY person. You will have to order the exact type of backlight panels and replace them.
If you are not a technical person, your best chance is to take your TV to a repair shop and let the professional do it correctly.
Bonus tip – bake your TV board in oven
This might sound totally weird but while I was researching for this article, I came across this method that has worked for many users.
When you try everything and your RCA TV is still giving you a black blank screen, try this as a last resort. You got nothing to lose at this point anyway.
- Open the back of your TV by taking out all the screws carefully.
- Disassemble your main board (or motherboard) and remove it from the TV.
- Put your main board inside a preheated oven for about 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, open the oven door and let everything cool down naturally.
- Take out your main board and reassemble your TV.
- Try turning it ON now and see if it worked.
Why does this work? Due to heavy usage, your main board gets hot and some of the soldered connections on the board get loose but it’s too hard to locate the exact point.
So, we put the entire board inside a hot oven to re-solder or re-flow the broken connection. With some luck, this should work for any and all circuit boards.
Below is a great video demonstration of this method (it’s done on LG TV but should work for any TV)
Contact RCA support
RCA provides great support for its products. They have a dedicated resource page for common issues and queries.
If your RCA TV is under warranty, you can contact the support team for claims and repairs. If you are in the US, you can give them a call or submit a support ticket.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone Number: 1-888-968-9853
If you can’t contact RCA support, your next best option is your local electronic repair shop where you can get your TV fully repaired.
RCA TV Troubleshooting – Conclusion
RCA TV troubleshooting is not easy, but if you follow the steps outlined in this article, you can get to the bottom of your issue in most cases.
To summarise the discussion above:
- First, check if the TV is getting adequate power from the wall.
- Run your TV through a power cycle to resolve any bugs
- Check your remote and make sure it is working
- Remove all external devices to see if they are the problem
- Check if the external video source is working fine
- Try factory resetting your TV
- Open the back cover and check the circuit board for any shorts
- Check if your TV LCD backlight is ON and working
- Bonus tip: try the oven method to re-solder broken connections.
After running through all these troubleshooting steps, if you get your TV working, great. If not, you should then contact the RCA technical support team for help.
Frequently Asked Questions
RCA TV turns ON and then OFF again.
If RCA TV turns ON and then OFF after a few seconds, the power board is not providing enough voltage to the main board. Replace/repair the power supply.
RCA TV not turning ON no red light
If your RCA TV has no red standby light, that means either your TV is not getting power from the wall or yur TV internal power supply is bad.
RCA TV won’t turn on but blue light is on
If your RCA TV blue light is ON but not turning ON, either the power supply board is faulty, or the backlights have fused.
What’s the difference between LCD and LED TV?
LCD TVs are backlit using fluorescent lamp (CCFL) tubes, while in LED TVs, the LCD panel is backlit using an array of LEDs. So, an LED TV is just an LCD TV with LED backlighting.