Final Update: Samsung class action lawsuit settled. More details here.
Just a little over two years ago, we bought our 46″ Samsung LCD. Unfortunately for us, the TV started having problems this past November. Also unfortunate was the fact that it only had a one year warranty. The problem with the TV was that when you pressed the power button it would take 30-40 seconds to turn on and then it would have single pixel pink dots all over the screen. At times it would display other patterns, but most of the time it was filled with the pink dots. If you turned off the TV and then pressed the button again, you would have to wait for 20-30 seconds and hopefully not have the dots. At first you only needed to turn it off / on once to get it work right, but the delay and the number of restarts continued to grow.
When I called Samsung, they let me know that my TV was out of warranty (which I was aware of) and pointed me toward a local repair shop. The cost of the initial diagnosis would be $70 and they couldn’t estimate the final repair cost (although I did get a minimum estimate of $300). Well, the TV was still working (sort of) and I didn’t want to take a chance of spending $70 and not getting a definite diagnosis. On the internet I found this thread detailing a lot of people with the same or similar problem with their Samsung LCD (all shapes and sizes of them). They all had one thing in common: they were about two years old. Perhaps there was something to this.
I found two different sets of instructions (along with pictures) of the repair, but I was still feeling a little uneasy about my soldering abilities. Secretly I hoped that the problem would just go away, yet over time I knew that wasn’t going to be the case. Yesterday I decided to go for the repair and at least I would have either a working or completely broken TV. It only took about 30-45 minutes to disassemble the TV. I placed it face down on our dining room table to do the dis-assembly. I saw the offending capacitors and tried a few Radio Shacks in the area to find replacements. I had to go to four different stores, but I did find the three capacitors I needed. Actually the weren’t exactly the same. They were slightly higher voltage and were not quite as high in their temperature rating. Several people in the thread I linked early reported that they worked just fine for them. I figured they would do for me as well since they would save me several days on getting it repaired.
I’ve done several soldering jobs, but none of them on a PCB (printed circuit board). The one thing that I picked up from the internet thread was that desoldering braid was recommended. This ended up being one of the best tips since it worked great at removing the old solder. So I removed and replaced the three defective capacitors and put it all back together. Time to test out my repair. I was hoping it wouldn’t burst into flames which I would consider the worst case scenario. Turning it on, it seemed to start right up. I didn’t have anything connected to it (just in case the previously mentioned worst case scenario happened), so it was just a black screen. When I connected it to my computer, it confirmed that the fix did in fact work. Wohoo!
So the TV is now working as good as new. I’m glad to have at least kicked the can further down the road. If the replacement capacitors fail, then I at least I know what’s involved with the repair. For now, I have a TV that I expect to work for quite a while. I’ve also lost a lot of respect for the Samsung brand. Even though their quality has been good in the past, their customer service was terrible. They know that they have an issue with this batch of capacitors, but they refuse to make the necessary repairs without a heavy service charge. It will be interesting to see if the class action lawsuit goes anywhere.
Update (1/14/2011): It’s been almost a year since I made the above repairs and the TV is still working well. I haven’t seen the pink dots anymore and the startup time is just a few seconds (which I would assume is like a new set). Reading back through my original post, I noticed that I wasn’t really clear on my troubleshooting techniques. If you are attempting the repair yourself (which I recommend if you feel confident in your abilities), you need to identify the defective capacitors.
In the above photo, you can see the defective capacitors which I’ve marked with red. The easiest way that I’ve found to identify the bulging is to look at the lines (big “+”) on the top of each capacitor. When you look at the capacitor from an angle, you will not see a straight line. If it is bulging, the line formed will look more like a “tent” or a triangle. Another thing to be on the lookout for is any sign of leakage. On the two capacitors to the right, you can see small brown stains in the center of the capacitor top. I’ve circled them in red. So any of the capacitors that are bulging or are leaking will need to be replaced. They may not be the same capacitors on all boards, so make a note of the type so that you buy the correct replacement. You might also want to take note of the polarity markings on the board and capacitor. You definitely don’t want to have that wrong.
If you have any comments, corrections or perhaps words of encouragement for others then feel free to post it in the comments section.