A universal remote is very handy because you can put the different remotes for each of the devices in your home away somewhere and just use the one remote. However, like all electronic devices from time to time they can stop working correctly. In this article I will explain how to troubleshoot a universal remote that isn’t working.
Start by removing the batteries and putting them back in to reboot your remote, also put in a fresh pair of batteries. The button for the device on the remote needs to be pressed before it can be controlled by the remote, so ensure you pressed the button for the device first.
The most popular universal remotes such as Logitech use a software that you install on a computer to set up each of the different devices. And the remote needs to be plugged into the computer to sync any changes you’ve made on the software. There are also a range of other troubleshooting steps so I’ll explain each of the steps in easy to follow detail below.
Universal Remote Not Working
To get a universal remote that isn’t working to work again it’s a matter of trying each troubleshooting step one by one until you’ve found what was causing the issue. Here’s a list of the steps to do:
Reseat the batteries, change the batteries, ensure you pressed the button for the device first, resync it to the computer software, restart the device you’re trying to control, ensure you have line of sight and are close enough to the device.
Once you’ve tried each of these steps then the remote is faulty, and you should contact the manufacturer to see about getting a replacement under warranty. Here’s step by step instructions for each of these steps. It’s important to note that each of these steps is a potential solution. Therefore, once you’ve done each step try and use your universal remote.
1. Reboot the remote by reseating the batteries and put in a new pair
Simply restarting your remote can fix a whole host of issues, and is the first thing you should try. This is done by taking out the batteries and then putting them back in again. Also if the batteries are completely flat the remote won’t work. If the batteries are close to being flat it can only send out a weak signal when you use it, which won’t be enough to use it.
It’s also possible someone has tinkered with the batteries and put them back in the wrong way around. Or, you accidentally put them in the wrong way when you put them in. So, verify they’re facing the right way. And try a brand new pair of batteries that have a full charge.
2. Make sure you’ve put the device correctly into your universal remote
Before using a universal remote you need to spend about 30 minutes to 45 minutes programming in each of the devices in your home. This is either done on the remote itself. Or, via a software provided by the universal remote manufacturer. This requires you to put in the brand and model number of the devices in your home.
It’s possible you’ve put one letter or number of the model number incorrectly when you programmed it. This will cause the wrong settings to be set up on your universal remote which won’t let it control the device you’ve programmed in. You’ll know this is likely the cause if the device has never been able to be controlled with your universal remote. However, if you could control a specific device before and now it’s stopped working, then it’s likely something else.
Using your owners manual or opening the software on your computer for your universal remote, check that the model number is correct by removing a device and reading it again.
3. Ensure the button is pressed for the device you’re trying to operate
Most universal remotes have buttons at the top for each of the different devices. However, I have come across some universal remotes that instead have a screen. Before the remote will operate a device the device needs to be selected. For example, if you want to operate your TV, you need to first press the ‘TV’ button at the top of the remote.
Make sure you press the button for the device you’re trying to operate before trying to operate it with your universal remote.
4. Resync the remote to the computer software
Many universal remotes such as those from the popular Logitech brand have a computer software. This software is used to program in the different devices in your home. When you make a change on the software the remote needs to be connected to the device. And then you need to press the sync button on the software to sync the changes to your universal remote.
For example, if you add a new device to the software you need to connect your remote and sync it for the changes to be applied to your universal remote. Also devices such as smart TVs regularly put out software updates. The universal remote manufacturers software also can provide updates from time to time to the software. When an update is put out your universal remote will need to be synced to apply any changes.
It’s possible there is a bug with a software update to the operating system on your Smart TV, such as Google TV, or Roku TV. And updating the software on the universal remote to the latest version and syncing it will fix this bug. Therefore, ensure your universal remote software on your computer is up to date to the latest version. And sync it by connecting your remote via a USB cable to your computer, and then selecting sync.
5. Restart the device you’re trying to operate
The device you’re trying to operate with your universal remote can have frozen or had an error in the internal computer. Restarting it will clear any of these issues. This is done by unplugging it, or turning it off at the wall. Then turning it back on again.
Some appliances such as air conditioning units may not have an accessible wall outlet. In which case you should power it down by pressing the power button on it. If it does not have a power button, then you should use the remote that comes with it to power it down, and then power it back on to reset it.
6. If your universal remote uses a hub reset the hub
Universal remotes are of two types; they can either use a hub or are standalone and don’t have a hub. If you have a stand alone remote that doesn’t use a hub then skip this step. In some cases the universal can unpair from the hub due to a glitch and needs to be re-paired. Other times resetting the hub can cause your universal remote to begin working again as it should.
Start by resetting your hub by unplugging it at the wall and plugging it back in again. It can take a minute or two for the hub to fully power up. Well known brands like Logitech typically take 30 seconds before the hub is completely powered up and working. After this step, attempt to use your universal remote again.
When it’s still working, check to see if your universal remote is paired to your hub. Each brand is different, therefore, for this step you should read your owner’s manual to see how to pair your remote to your hub.
7. Ensure you have line of sight to the device you’re trying to operate
Universal remotes can use both infrared (IR) and a wireless technology. Wireless technology does not require line of sight with the device, as the signal is projected outwards from the remote. IR technology requires line of sight, you’re likely familiar with the fact that the remote needs to be pointed at a device for it to work. It’s possible there’s something blocking the IR receiver on the device you’re trying to operate.
For example, someone could have put a book in front of a TV that is blocking the IR sensor. Ensure there’s nothing in front of a device you’re trying to operate that could be blocking the IR signal. Often when the batteries are running low, the signal from the remote is weaker. So you need to stand closer to the device you’re trying to operate with your universal remote.
8. Unique battery/batteries for the universal remote have failed
It’s common that universal remotes can have a unique battery, not the standard double or triple ‘A’ batteries that you can find at virtually any store. This battery can have failed. They can be flat square shaped batteries that you may recognize from some of the first mobile phones. Signs that this type of battery has failed are that it will be slightly expanded.
Instead of being perfectly square and flat on all sides the middle part will be puffed out a bit and slightly curved. It’s difficult to know if the batteries have failed. Therefore, it’s a bit of a risk getting completely new batteries. Batteries can be covered by the warranty, therefore, if you suspect this is the issue, then it’s best to contact the manufacturer of your universal remote to see whether it is or not.
In some cases you can get a replacement battery rather than a whole new remote.
9. Replace the remote and see if it’s covered by warranty
Finally, if you’ve tried each of these steps, it’s likely the remote is faulty and needs to be repaired or replaced. It’s best to contact the manufacturer of your remote to see if it’s covered by warranty. Typically a warranty will cover early failures, but will be voided if the remote has been dropped, or water has spilled on it. As these can cause cosmetic failures to the internal components.
Universal Remote Not Pairing
A universal remote needs to first be paired with the hub and/or the devices you want to operate with it. However, if you run into an issue where it won’t pair here’s what you should do.
Restart the device that you’re trying to pair your universal remote to. For example, if it’s the hub, or TV, restart that device. Following that restart your universal remote by taking the batteries out and putting them back in. If that hasn’t worked then check you’ve got the right pairing code.
As you may know each device has a unique pairing code. You may have put one number incorrectly. Resetting each of the devices involved in pairing your remote will generally fix this issue. This is done by disconnecting the power by unplugging it at the wall, and turning it back on.
There are two devices minimum and a maximum of three. There is the remote and the device you’re trying to pair it to. If your universal remote uses a hub then reset that as well. If it’s still not pairing then I recommend creating a support ticket with the universal remote.
As well as, with the device that you’re trying to pair it to. For example, if you’re trying to pair it to a Sony TV, contact Sony to see if there are any other settings you need to change on your Sony TV to get it to pair to a universal remote.
Universal Remote Not Responding
Some universal remotes are always on, whereas, others can be powered down when not in use. If you aren’t getting any lights when you press the buttons, or the screen on your universal remote isn’t lighting up and showing anything when you turn it on here’s what you should do:
Take the batteries/battery in and out of your remote. Where possible check the terminals for the batteries are clean and aren’t covered in anything that can cause a poor connection between the batteries and the battery terminals. The batteries can also be completely flat or have failed.
Some universal remotes have a special battery rather than the common ‘AA’ or ‘AAA’ batteries. These are the type where you plug your universal remote into a wall outlet, the hub, or a computer with a USB to charge it. The battery for universal remotes with this type of battery can fail. Inspecting the battery terminals will allow you to see if there is a build up of dust, a food spill, or if the batteries have leaked acid on to them.
I’ve also explained some tips and what to do about checking if the battery has failed a bit further up in this article where I explain a range of steps to troubleshoot a universal remote that isn’t working. Look for step ‘8. Unique battery/batteries for the universal remote have failed’, and follow the instructions there. And if it’s still not working perform the other troubleshooting steps on that list.
Universal Remote TV Won’t Turn Off
A universal remote will do virtually everything your TV remote can do. If you’re running into an issue where it won’t turn your TV off, there are a few troubleshooting steps you should perform. Here’s what they are:
First check that you’ve pressed the TV button first before pressing the on/off button on your universal remote. If you have then restart all of the devices involved such as the remote, the TV, and a hub if your universal remote uses one.
There can also be something blocking the infrared (IR) sensor on the front of your TV. Ensure nothing is blocking the front of your TV such as a book. These are the most common issues but I’ve also provided a list of additional troubleshooting steps you should do. As well as, a detailed explanation for how to perform the above steps.
Scroll to the top and start with step one, and then work your way through each step until it starts working.
Universal Remote Won’t Change Channels
Once you’ve programmed your TV into your universal remote it can do almost everything that your TV remote can do. It’s possible it won’t change the channels on your TV. Here’s what causes this issue and how to fix it.
If you’re using a set top box such as a Google Chromecast or Freeview, you need to also program that into the universal remote before it can change the channels on that. Also, ensure you’ve selected the device you want your universal remote to control first, in this case press the ‘TV’ button.
A set top box or similar device such as a Google Chromecast or a Freeview also has channels. A TV will have one channel for the Google Chromecast and then to change the channel and navigate the apps on this you need to use a different remote. This can also be programmed into a universal remote. A common fix is to reset all of the devices you’re using such as the remote, and TV.
I’ve explained how to do this step, as well as, the other troubleshooting steps you should do when you’re universal isn’t working. But, they also all apply to when it won’t change the channel on your TV or another device. Scroll to the top of this article and start with step 1. Then, perform each of the other troubleshooting steps you’ve solved the issue.
Reboot your remote, the universal remote hub (if your remote uses one), and the device you’re trying to operate. This is done by removing the batteries from the universal remote and putting them back in, and unplugging the hub and other device(s), and plugging them back in.