Projector Troubleshooting: 15 Common Projector Problems and Solutions

Projectors have become a critical part of a student’s education in the same way computers have in the 21st Century.  Actually, most schools would rather use projectors than have individual workstations for their pupils in light of how expensive the latter is compared to the former. Furthermore, let’s not forget that projectors have become extremely popular as of late for home entertainment systems along with huge projector screens for viewing HD and Ultra HD movies from Blu-Ray and DVD as well as PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

When the home video projector, business projector, or classroom projector malfunctions, it obviously becomes a problem. This impacts your movie marathon, lesson plans, or your proposal for a brand identity repackaging for your company’s top product. With that in mind, how do you go about fixing the various issues of a malfunctioning projector sans repairman advice?

You may also like: What is a Smart Projector? Why Do You Need a Smart Projector?

Projector Display Problems: How to Fix! 

If there’s no signal from the display of your projector, you can do the most basic of troubleshooting tips.

  • Check if the computer or projector is turned on.
  • Check if the HDMI or VGA connection from your computer to your projector is properly connected.
  • Power cycle or restart the devices and then turn them back on in case it’s a VGA connection and you can’t plug & play the projector with your computer.

If your projector isn’t turning on when you push the power button, do the following.

  • Check the control panel if it has a status or indicator LED light. Refer to your user’s manual or the maker’s website for explanations or solutions if the light is on.
  • Check the input. You might have the incorrect input. Most projectors have multiple inputs for VGA or HDMI or HDMI1 and HDMI2 or Computer 1 and Computer 2 and so forth. Switch from input to input using the input button on the projector.
  • You can also hit the FN key and a function button with a monitor icon on your laptop to get the picture to project from your projector. It varies from laptop to laptop.
  • The function key can read CRT, LCD, or have the aforementioned monitor or group of monitors icon. Press to obtain the image from your projector.

Maarten Brinkerink

The Projector Does Not Power On when Pushing the Power Button: How to Fix! 

If your projector doesn’t power on, take note of the following.

  • Make sure the outlet is connected to the socket. Check if there’s damage on either the socket or the power cable and plug.
  • Some projector control panels have a status or indicator LED. When it’s turned on or flashing, then you should refer to the manual regarding what it means and how it could be fixed.
  • Make sure the current and correct input is used. See if the VGA connector has any bent pins or if there’s something wrong with your HDMI connector. Do the same with the ports.
  • Press your notebook PC’s FN key along with the monitor function button to activate the projector. Some computers require you to push that function button for the monitor or projector in order for the projector to activate.
  • When all else fails, have your projector fixed for free if it’s under warranty or for a fee if it’s outside warranty.

“No Signal” or No Image from the Projector: How to Fix!

If your projector is projecting a “No Signal” message, here’s what you can do to potentially fix it. 

  • Verify if the device you’re connecting is compatible with the projector in question. Otherwise, you might need an adapter or get a compatible projector to make it work, especially if it’s a vintage device linked to a modern projector or vice-versa.
  •  Are you using the proper adapter? If you have an Apple iOS type of device, then an MD826AM/A adapter is called for.
  • Is your tablet, smartphone, or notebook PC powered with a sufficient battery? Is your workstation connected properly to a surge protector and whatnot? If not, charge the battery or fix your desktop connections.
  • Test your projector on another HDMI device without using an adapter to see if the problem is with the projector. Use another HDMI cable if it fails. If it still fails, the projector itself is busted.
  • If using a different video source isn’t an issue with your projector, the original video source you’re using might have compatibility issues.
  • Contact a repairman or your projector manufacturer’s customer service directly if your projector itself isn’t receiving any signal from any available video sources you have.

Projector Is Only Projecting a Partial Image or Part of The Image is Cut Off: How to Fix!

If your projector is projecting an image that’s cut off, also known as a partial image, then you should do the following.

  • If only part of the image is shown like it’s cropped, then it might be a resolution issue. Your computer or media device should match the native resolution of your projector.
  • Match the resolution of the projector with the resolution of your laptop or desktop PC as well as your Blu-Ray or DVD player. This will keep you from cropping out portions of your screen or projector image.
  • You can check the resolution of your projector in the specs page of the user manual or by searching for the specs at the manufacturer’s website while keeping the model number of the unit in mind.
  • To change the resolution setting of your PC, right-click the desktop and select Properties. Afterwards, click on Settings then change the resolution to a lower resolution or a proper one in light of your projector of choice using the slide cursor.

Light on Projector is Blinking: How to Fix!

If the LED on the projector is blinking when the projector powers on, then do the following. 

  • Consult your user manual for specific details since this guide only covers general information.
  • A blinking LED typically means your projector lamp is exhausted. Metal halide or standard lamp hours can range from 1,500 to 2,000 hours or up to 20,000 hours if you’re using an LED lamp.
  • Contact your projector manufacturer or search on Amazon.com and the like for a lamp replacement. Even better if your projector is still under warranty because that means you can get the lamp for free.
  • Make sure you provide the right make and model number for your projector to your Amazon.com search or your parts supplier get the correct and compatible lamp for your unit.
  • Keep in mind that a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) projector can only use a standard lamp while a Digital Light Processing (DLP) can make use of both LED and standard lamps.
  • LED lamps are better than metal halide or halogen lamps because they last many times longer, are many times brighter, and can keep your projector from overheating too easily.

There’s No Sound Coming from My Projector: Here’s The Fix!

This issue mostly applies to projectors with built-in speakers. This shouldn’t pop out if you’re using another means to have sound with what you’re watching, like separate soundbars, stereos, or sound systems. 

  • The projector should have volume settings. Simply adjust them or make sure they’re not on mute.
  • Use the remote control and press the A/V mute button to resume audio and video play if they were temporarily stopped or paused.
  • If required, push the source search button in order to switch to the correct input. The reason why there’s no sound might be because the projector has chosen an incorrect source type.
  • Check your video source or computer to ensure that the volume isn’t lowered or muted. Make sure that the audio output is set to the correct source. If not, adjust accordingly.
  • Check the audio cable connection cable between your media player or video source and your projector.
  • If there’s no sound and it’s an HDMI source then set to PCM output your connected device.
  • Double-check the connected audio cables if they’re labeled “No Resistance”.
  • If the USB display function is in use, activate the output audio from your projector settings in the projector app on your computer.
  • If you wish for a connected audio source even when your projector is turned off then activate Standby Mode to Communication On. Also, turn on the Standby Audio feature for good measure.
  • If you’re using a Macintosh computer and don’t hear sound from an HDMI device, make sure your iMac or MacBook supports audio through HDMI. If this isnt’ the case, you need a separate audio cable to make things work.

My Projector’s Remote is not Working Correctly: Here’s The Fix!

If your remote control isn’t working, try the following troubleshooting fixes.

  • If you’ve lost or damaged the remote, order a new one from the manufacturer.
  • Maybe your remote control batteries are used up or not installed correctly. Fix their placement or change your batteries as required.
  • Make sure your remote control is within the range and reception angle of your projector, especially if it’s the infrared type.
  • Turn off the remote receivers in your projector’s menu system if available. Check if all the remote receivers are turned off.
  • Make sure if a button on your clicker is stuck, leading to it going to sleep mode. This might cause your projector to not recognize its commands. Unstick the button to fix the problem.
  • Nearby infrared device signals, direct sunlight, or fluorescent lighting could interfere with the remote receivers of your projector. Dim the lights or move your projector to make your remote control finally work.
  • If your remote control has an assigned ID number to allow it to operate multiple projector models like a universal remote, you might need to check then setup the ID properly. This feature isn’t available for all projectors though.

 

Only the Projector’s Start-Up Screen is Displayed: Here’s The Fix!

If only the projector’s start-up or startup screen is displayed, here’s what you can do about it. 

  • This might be a connection problem. Check your cables and ports for damage or looseness.
  • It might be a resolution problem. Some projectors with the wrong resolution will only display the startup screen.
  • Fix the resolution issue by going to your desktop’s Display Properties and changing the resolution to your projector’s native resolution.
  • Your notebook or workstation PC might be set to extend your desktop instead of duplicating or mirroring it.
  • If you’re using Windows, you need to learn how to cycle through different projector options so that more than just the startup screen is displayed.
  • You can also set the mode to duplicate or mirror by pressing Windows (button) + P then selecting the Duplicate option.

 

My Laptop Shows Full desktop but Projector is Only Showing Wallpaper Without Icons: Here’s The Truth! 

If it’s instead an issue of your projector only showing the wallpaper without the icons even though your computer monitor or laptop/tablet screen shows a full desktop, do the following instead.

  • You can right-click the laptop’s desktop, choose Display Properties, and then select Duplicate display on the dropdown menu.
  • When in Extend mode, you can drag programs or icons back and forth between the extended laptop desktop and the projector.
  • When in Duplicate mode, you can mirror what you’re seeing on your laptop screen and what’s seen on the projector.
  • Other Windows machines go about things like this instead. In the Properties tab, choose the Settings tab, and click the Advanced button. This will take you to the Graphics Media Accelerator. Select that.
  • On the new page, click on the button labeled Graphics Properties. Another page will appear. Select between Multiple Display and Single Display.
  • On the Multiple Display selection, pick Dual Display Clone (equivalent to Duplicate mode). Don’t select the Extended Desktop.
  • Set the primary device as your laptop/desktop PC and secondary device as the monitor/projector.
  • Apply the changes with the Apply button then click OK to save.

Why is My Projector So Loud: Here’s The Truth!

What if your projector produces a loud fan noise? Here’s how you can fix it.

  • Your air vents might be blocked or clogged. Check for debris and dust. Clean that up. Inspect the fan if it has physical damage as well.
  • A can of compressed air can do nicely in debris and dust removal as well from the vents and the dust filters.
  • You should in fact mostly use compressed air cans. Don’t use blowers or vacuum cleaners on projectors. They can damage the electrical components inside your projector.
  • Check to see if your printer supports an ECO mode, which can save you lamp life power, and (most importantly) reduce fan noise, overheating, and blockages from the fan.
  • The vents may be located in different places depending on which projector you got. Refer to your user manual for more details. You can also check online as long as you know the make and model of your unit.

Images Have Lines and Dots: Here’s The Fix! 

If your projector has dots and lines, here’s how you can fix them.

  • DLP projectors have DMD chips that help produce crisp and clear images even in the low-end range. The downside to this is that DMD chips are temperature sensitive.
  • DMD chips can be damaged by heat. So if your projector’s filters and air vents are clogged up the chip will develop dead pixels and lines due to accumulating damage.
  • When you have dead pixels, it means the micro-mirrors that make up the DMD chip arrays are failing. This is an irreversible event.
  • To fix dots and lines on your image, you need a DMD chip replacement. It might also be more practical for you to find ways to prevent such damage from happening in the first place.
  • Always clean your projector vents and filters with compressed air cans and whatnot. Or have a professional clean it up for you. Also, avoid placing your projector on any place that’s dusty or prone to high-temperature heat spikes.
  • Prevention is more affordable than a cure. If your projector image has already started producing those colorful dots and lines, you can keep things from worsening by observing proper cleaning habits.

Projector Not Showing Computer/Video Source Screen: Here’s The Truth! 

If your projector isn’t showing the computer screen, do the following to fix the issue.

    The lens cover might be closed. Take it off or open it all the way
  • Press the remote control’s A/V mute button. The image might’ve been turned off using the video version of the audio mute.
  • Check the batteries on your remote. They might be out of juice already.
  • Wake your projector from Standby Mode or Sleep Mode by pressing the power button. Also check if your computer is in Sleep Mode itself, if not running in screensaver mode.
  • Check the settings on your Signal menu. Make sure they’re the right settings for your video source, whether it’s a BD player, a tablet, or a certain model of laptop.
  • Select the Normal Power Consumption setting if there is one. Adjust the Brightness setting too because the picture might simply be blacked out.
  • Make sure the Message option is turned on from your Display Settings.
  • Reduce the screen size from the full-screen mode for images projected using Windows Media Center.
  • Turn off DirectX functions for images projected using apps that run on Windows DirectX.
  • Unlock the buttons if your projector isn’t responding when you press them on your control panel.
  • Press the Menu button on your projector or remote. If your projector is able to display the menu then it might be a video source issue or cable/port connection problem.
  • Double-check to see if all the cables are connected properly to your video sources and whatnot, including the power cable. Make sure the outlet you plugged your projector into is a working one while you’re at it.
  • Reset your projector settings using the Reset menu of your control panel when all else fails.
  • Certain copyrighted videos might not playback on your projector due to the High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) features of HDMI connections. Consult your projector’s user manual for more details.

Projector No Input Detected: Here’s The Truth!

If your projector doesn’t detect the input, here’s how you go about fixing things.

  • Your projector itself might be busted. Check if it’s turned on or plugged in properly. If it’s plugged yet it’s still not working then you should definitely consult a repairman or return the unit for a replacement if it’s under warranty.
     
  • The outlet might not be working. You can use an electrical tester pen to see if any electricity is flowing from the socket, the cable, and the port. The power cable might also be damaged as well.
     
  • Check the temperature lights. Your projector might have overheated, resulting in a shutdown. If you’re lucky, it might’ve shut down before any damage has occurred. If you’re unlucky, it might’ve shut down because the unit is damaged beyond repair.
     
  • Check the batteries on your remote control if you need to use the remote to turn on the projector. The batteries might be placed wrongly or it might be used up already.
     
  • Check the projector latches. Make sure they’re closed. If they’re open then the projector won’t be able to turn on or show your computer screen.
     
  • It might be a connection problem instead, resulting in no signal or no duplicate screen. Check the HDMI or VGA cables if they’re properly docked on their respective ports. Otherwise, set things up so that the computer is set on Duplicate screen mode as indicated above.
     
  • Reset the lamp timer and see if that works in getting that image up. Also, make sure that your projector isn’t merely in standby mode.
     
  • If all else fails, get your projector to a repair center ASAP. The issue could be more complex like internal component damage.

 

Projector Not Detected on Windows 10: Here’s The Truth!

Windows 10 can be finicky in running certain programs or using certain devices like an old VGA projector versus a modern HDMI one. Here’s how you can fix your Windows 10 errors in a jiffy. 

  • Update your drivers. Your Windows 10 OS might not detect the projector because it lacks drivers despite the plug & play mandate for seemingly all modern hardware.
  • To update your drivers, first press the Windows key + R. From there, type devmgmt.msc on the prompt and press Enter. Click on the COM & LPT Port and expand. Right-click the device driver then click on Update.
  • Update Windows 10. This should be automatic but to be on the safe side, make sure that you’re running the latest Windows 10 updates on your PC.
  • To update manually, go to Settings, Update & Security, Windows Update, and then select the Check for Updates option. Restart your PC to apply the changes in your next startup session.
  • Run the Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter. This will help Windows 10 recognize and detect your projector. Just go to Settings, Update & Security, and then pick Troubleshoot. Under the “Find and fix other problems” option, select the Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter.
  • Do a driver rollback. Instead of a Windows 10 update, you might instead need to go to an earlier version of Windows 10 that can still recognize your old VGA projector. Sometimes, a new update can do more harm than good on old versions of software and hardware.
  • Go to Start, type “Device Manager”, then double-click Device Manager. Locate the Display Adapter and Monitor Drivers and then right-click on them to rollback the drive to one that can still detect your projector.

Conclusion

Entertainment-wise, projectors have become a valid and viable alternative to the HDTV, with modern projectors featuring HDMI connections, Wi-Fi capabilities, and smart features akin to those of smartphones, tablets, and computers (i.e., they could download mobile apps as well). Let’s also remember that the original digital video projector was mostly used in the 1980s and 1990s to project slideshow presentations for companies and their conference meetings. Regardless of usage, it’s always preferable that your projector is in tip-top condition.

When your projector doesn’t work, you’d naturally want a handy troubleshooting guide to fix it. The thing about a malfunctioning projector is that there are many issues with their respective unique causes. If your projector is on the fritz, you need to first figure out what the problem is before you know the proper steps to troubleshoot it. For example, there are separate methods of troubleshooting for fixing a projector that doesn’t power on, locks up, reports a bulb error, has video quality problems, and fan noise issues. 

Also, always keep in mind the most basic principles of troubleshooting when it comes to projector errors. Check the connection, the power cable, the electrical socket, and so forth for bent pins, warped plastic, a large hood, or looseness.

References

  1. 5 Tips To Fix Common Projector Issues“, K-12 Tech, Retrieved June 22, 2020
  2. Omega Troubleshooting Tips“, Omega Digital, Retrieved June 22, 2020
  3. Troubleshooting Tips for Projector Problems“, My Projector Lamps, April 24, 2017
  4. How to Troubleshoot Video, Display or Noise Issues on a Dell Projector“, Dell.com, Retrieved June 22, 2020
  5. Projector Troubleshooting: Common Problems and Their Solution“, Kodak Theatre, Retrieved June 23, 2020
  6. My Video Projector Is Not Turning On. What Can I Do?“, Information Technology Services in The University of Iowa, Retrieved June 23, 2020
  7. How do I fix a no signal message on my projector?“, Magnasonic Support, April 22, 2019
  8. Tashreef Shareef, “Projector has no signal on Windows 10? We got your back“, Windows Report, August 14, 2019
  9. Radu Tyrsina, “Unable to display to a VGA projector in Windows 10 [EASY STEPS]“, Windows Report, February 27, 2018
  10. Milan Stanojevic, “What to do if projector duplicate is not working“, Windows Report, December 7, 2018
  11. Projector Troubleshooting“, Pace University – Computer Troubleshooting for Teachers and Students, Retrieved June 23, 2020

Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/

James Core
I write dozens of helpful informational articles based on topics that I have identified again and again throughout my research and work experience. I am here to help you find the right projector.

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