How to Fix the Color in your TV Picture

First we need to determine whether the problem is coming from the source or if it is something about the TV. If the problem goes away when you change the channel, then it is probably the TV station. If it goes away when you select a different source or input, then you probably have a faulty connection. See the section on Connections.

If it doesn't, then it could either be 1.) an faulty printed circuit board in your television, 2.) a faulty or improper cable connection, or 3.) an improper picture menu setting on your TV. The following chart lists various color anomalies, and their probable causes. Find the Common Symptom(s) with which you are dealing, and then read the related paragraphs(s) that are marked with an X.

Probable Cause
Commons symptom Settings Connections Circuit Board
Picture is weak, pasty, or flat X
Skin tone is too red or too purple X
Skin tone is too green X
Colors are too pale or weak X
Colors are too bold or vivid X
White is too blue X
White is too yellow or orange X
Skin tone is too orange X
There is no color at all X X
Blues and reds are reversed X
Only blue and yellow, but no red X X
Only red and green, but no blue X X

Settings

Anyone could have easily messed with the TV's remote control. This could have caused the colors in the picture to go awry. If this is what happened, then the settings simply need to be returned back to their original state. Grab the remote that controls the TV's menu. Press the 'Menu' key to display the main TV menu. Then select the 'Picture' option. This option will display a range of different settings. But which setting needs to be adjusted?

Find the Symptom that describes what you are seeing from the chart below and adjust the corresponding Setting. You may find on the chart that there are two names for a particular setting. The reason is because some settings have different names depending on the brand of TV. Just look for the one you have.

The Direction refers to the way to change the setting. It is typically left or right, although some TVs orient their settings vertically (those directions are in parenthesis).

If the remote control is not available, the adjustments can be made using the push buttons found on the television itself. The Menu button will display the main menu. The cursor in the displayed menu can be moved using the Volume Up, Volume Down, Channel Up and Channel Down buttons. Navigating with these buttons can be difficult. I recommend that you read the literature that came with the TV to learn how to use them.

You can exit the menu on the screen by pressing the Exit or Menu button on the remote. Also, if you wait long enough without making any changes, the menu will disappear on its own.

Symptom Setting Direction
Picture is weak, pasty, or flat Picture or Contrast Right (or up)
Skin tone is too red or too purple Tint or Hue Toward green
Skin tone is too green Tint or Hue Toward red
Colors are too pale or weak Color Right (or up)
Colors are too bold or vivid Color Left (or down)
White is too blue Color temperature See below
White is too yellow or orange Color temperature See below
Skin tone is too orange Color Left (or down)
There is no color Color Right (or up)

How to adjust the Brightness setting

"Brightness" in terms of the setting on your TV is a bit of a misnomer. The brightness setting on you TV has more to do with the "blackness" of the blacks than anything else. If the blacks are too dark, turn up the brightness. If the blacks are gray, the brightness needs to come down.

How to adjust the Color Temperature

Many TVs have a setting known as "color temperature". When the entire picture (including the "whites") has an undesirable yellowish cast or bluish cast, it may have to do with the color temperature setting. It will mostly be noticed in the areas of the picture that should be white.

The best setting for the color temperature is a matter of personal preference, but it will be significantly influenced by the kind of ambient light there is in the room. To the observer, the picture will seem to have the correct color temperature when it is set to most closely match how your room is lit. That is, whether there is daylight coming in from the windows, or whether the lamps in the room are lit for the evening.

The names given for the different color temperature settings vary among TV brands but there are generally three, and are commonly named Warm, Cool and Normal. The Normal setting produces a picture with a daylight cast, to match the ambient light in the room during the daytime. The Warm setting gives the pictures a candlelight cast. This setting is more appropriate for evening viewing, and is the most psychologically relaxing. The Cool setting produces whites that are more bluish (like that of high-end headlights on automobiles). This setting is meant to make the picture more bright or vivid, and is usually the way the TV is set when it's fresh out-of-the-box from the factory, or being demonstrated on the showroom floor.

More technically, color temperature is measure in degrees Kelvin. The color temperature of sunlight is about 6500°K, which is what the "Normal" setting would give you. On the other hand, the "Warm" setting produces a picture with a color temperature of about 3000°K, and the "Cool" setting would be about 8200°K. As you can see, the sense of this terminology (e.i. warm to cool) does not match with the direction of the scientific metric, but rather the asthetic feel of the cast. In fact, the terms "warm" and "cool" actually relate to how artists view color, in that reds are warm colors and blues are cool colors.

Other settings

The settings mentioned in this article are the common ones that you will find on nearly every TV. But within the Picture menu there may be more settings that could change the way the colors look. These settings are specific to the brand and model of television that you have. To learn what they are and how they will affect the picture, consult the owner's manual.

Connections

Component video cables that are not connected properly between the source and the TV can produce pictures with wrong colors. Conventionally, at both ends of the bundle, the green connector will connect to the Y jack, the red connector will connect to the Pr jack, and the blue connector will connect to the Pb jack. Keep in mind that the connectors are color-coded simply as a convenience so that they can be uniquely identified. The signals in these cables really don't care what the colors of the connectors are, as long as the particular signal coming from the source connects to the proper input at the other end.

The following chart lists the Symptoms that are related to faulty component video Cable connections along with which signal cables would be at fault.

Symptom Cables
Reds and Blues are reversed Red (Pr) and blue (Pb) are swapped at one end
Only blues and yellows, no reds Red (Pr) cable is not connected
Only reds and greens, no blues Blue (Pb) cable is not connected
Black and white, no color Both red (Pr) and blue (Pb) cables not connected
Hash or dot pattern crawling upward with the picture behind it The green (Y) cable at the source is wrongly connected to the neighboring yellow video output jack
Intermittent or flickering changes in color A bad cable, or a cable plug not firmly seated into its corresponding jack

If you can't seem to get the colors right by changing channels, or by making adjustments to the TV picture settings, or by changing the cable connections, then you are probably dealing with a faulty device. Determine which device is faulty by switching inputs. If the problem is always there no matter what you select as your input, then your TV is the culprit. Continue reading.

Intermittent Connections

Cables can become intermittent or go bad at their connectors. This can happen when the cable is disconnected repeatedly by grabbing it by the cable itself and tugging, rather than grasping the connector to disconnect it. Repeatedly unplugging and plugging in cables can also damage the female connector on the TV causing an intermittent connection as well. To tackle this problem you will need to gain access to the printed circuit board (see How Do I Get To the Circuit Boards in a TV?).

If the connector does not feel loose when you rock it back and forth, but the connection comes and goes, then there is probably a hairline fracture on the printed circuit trace to which the connector is soldered. If this is the case, then the board will either need to be repaired or replaced. It can be repaired by locating the broken trace, scaping the solder-resist off of the trace on either side of the fracture to expose the actual copper trace, and then reinforcing the trace with solder. If the connector feels loose to the touch, then it is likely that the printed circuit board has a crack in it, and will need to be replaced (see Circuit Board below).

Circuit Board

The printed circuit board in your TV that would most likely cause these kinds of issues is called the 'Main Board', or 'Signal Board'. It is generally the one that is populated with all those connectors for connecting various devices to the TV that are accessible in back of the TV.

Sometimes the failure could be caused by the actual connectors (jacks) on the printed circuit boards themselves. They can become electrically intermittent due to excessive mechanical stress from either 1.) the wear and tear of constantly plugging and unplugging cables into them, or 2.) the constant physical weight or tension imposed on them by the cable.

Whether the problem is with the board-mounted connectors, or some other component on the Signal Board, the board would definitely need to be replaced, and this web site can show you how to replace it. The articles How Do I Get to the Circuit Boards? and Replacing Circuit Boards in a TV provide useful information.


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