21 Home Theater Maintenance Tips & Tricks
21 Home Theater Maintenance Tips & Tricks
It’s probably not a stretch to assume that like me, you find home theater to be an extremely fun and entertaining hobby.
But over time you may have wondered, how can you actually maintain your home theater?
Well here’s something you may not have known; over time, heat, corrosion, vibration, & even dust can have a big impact in the preservation of your home theater.
From connections that might become loose, to a display that might shift its color over time, a number of things can go wrong in your entertainment space that you might not even immediately notice.
Eventually, these start to have a direct impact on not only your system performance, but its overall longevity as well.
So what I wanted to do is offer you a few personal home theater maintenance tips & tricks I’ve learned over the years that’ll help you avoid these mishaps, and keep your speakers and equipment in great shape for years to come.
These will be easy to implement and direct ways you can maintain the life of your home theater setup, while further optimizing what you currently have so that you’re confident you’re getting the best home cinema experience possible.
Do keep in mind you’ll also want to monitor the following items talked about in this guide at least once a year.
That way the health of your sound system is kept in pristine condition.
This article should be a helpful reference so without further ado, let’s get to it! 👍
How To Maintain A Home Theater?
A home theater can be maintained through various means that includes checking for loose connections, watching for failed components, keeping your equipment clean, making sure components are secure, and even adjusting picture quality should it deviate over time.
Following these, and the rest of the tips in this article should help prolong the life of your home theater!
Speakers & Audio Equipment
Video & Display Equipment
Speakers & Audio Equipment
1). Ensure Speaker Driver Screws Are Tight
Whether it’s the vibration from the speakers themselves or just general movement, the screws that hold together the drivers (woofer & tweeter) can actually loosen over time unbeknownst to most.
This can cause distortion from the driver vibrating against the cabinet, which can typically be heard in the form of some kind of rattling or buzzing.
Ultimately this results in a muddy and stifled sound.
So to fix this, and ideally prevent this, there’s 2 things you can do.
The first is the more obvious answer of checking for any loose screws.
But besides just manually checking each speaker, another more efficient way to see if something is awry is through what’s known as frequency sweeps.
Frequency sweeps to put it simply, are specialized tones that run through the frequency range from high to low (or vice versa) to detect any abnormalities with your speakers, ie. (an unwanted resonance, a spike in volume, etc.)
The volume should remain the same at every frequency and if it doesn’t, then it’s indicative of an issue and could be something as simple as a loose driver screw.
Here’s a track you can use to test this yourself.
2). Check For Loose Connections
This one is pretty simple, but connections in your audio equipment can become loose over time.
Be sure to check the connections in your setup periodically for any loose connections.
Also make sure that the connections on the back of your receiver aren’t touching as that can cause issues too.
3). Watch For Failed Components
Another thing to watch for are failed components.
Over time, components such as speaker drivers, tweeters, amplifiers, crossovers, etc. can fail from use or even old age.
One way to see if a component has failed is by playing wide band pink noise through each channel to make sure each speaker and subwoofer is still operating properly.
A pink noise track to test that your equipment works properly is a simple way to see if this is the case.
Remember, playing your volume too loud can definitely speed up component failure so be mindful of that.
Anything higher than reference level volume especially (85 decibels) since that surpasses the agreed upon audio standards, and approaches the upper threshold of the speaker’s capabilities & general listening comfortability.
Luckily electronics equipment, especially when it comes to home theater, typically have some kind of warranty included when purchased — so the manufacturer can replace it within an alloted time period if anything should happen to fail.
Plus there’s various options available with regards to extended warranties for audio equipment.
4). Occasionally Remove Dust From Your Speakers
Another thing that’s almost inevitable is that at some point dust may begin to accumulate on your speakers.
Something you may not have been aware of however is that dust not only affects the look of your speaker, but its performance as well.
Dust can infiltrate the wire connectors and disrupt the electrical signal that runs between the loudspeakers and their source, muddying the sound.
Not only that, dust can also get under the speaker grille itself.
In order to properly clean your speakers, a dry or even slightly damp microfiber clothe can be used to gently remove any dust or marks.
If it’s an older speaker or really bad, a tiny drop of a gentle wood cleaner should suffice.
This is the one I use.
The rubber surrounds of the speaker should also be wiped as it’ll prevent early degrading of delicate materials.
Old clothe surrounds (the lining around the drivers) may dry out and become brittle, potentially tearing as a result.
What you can do to remedy this is taking a very small amount of silicon sealant and rubbing it into the clothe which will strengthen the material and help it perform like it use to.
That should help the speaker last for years to come.
The dome tweeters on the speaker shouldn’t be touched but if there’s unsightly dust on the surface then a photographic lens blower can be used to remove the dust.
The clothe speaker grilles should also be cleaned by either vacuuming them or using a clean moist clothe.
Wipe down any logo badges and insignias too.
5). Analog Knobs & Switches Can Corrode
Analog knobs & switches on your home theater equipment can corrode over time.
Things like humidity, moisture, temperature, and usage all play a big part in how long these particular components last.
Try to keep equipment in temperate & dry conditions to avoid corrosion.
Moving the knob or switch back and forth a few times can also help.
Furthermore, playing a test tone through the subwoofer can help spotlight potential problems with any of the dials or switches.
Once that problem has been found, you have multiple choices.
The most obvious choice would be replacing the module with a new one, but if this isn’t possible then you can technically treat the corrosion with a cotton swap & isopropyl alcohol.
There are also many other options you can use including baking soda, white vinegar, and even lemons!
As for preventing the corrosion of these components, you also have a myriad of ways in achieving this that includes applying a protective coating, using a dehumidifier, and cleaning any accumulated dust present.
Excess dust can actually accelerate the corrosion process due to fact that dust absorbs water.
This unintentionally invites water to come in contact with these parts, which speeds corrosion along.
So by taking these steps, you can prolong the life of your equipment.
6). Placing Receiver & Amps in Well Ventilated Areas
With receivers and amps becoming increasingly complex with the more recent inclusion of micro processors and video cards, their needs for an adequate cooling solution have also increased.
Now the obvious solution would be putting it in as open of an area as possible, but the average person likely doesn’t want industrial looking audio equipment all over their entertainment space – thus the need for a balance between form and function arises.
Luckily there are ways to hide home theater equipment while also keeping said equipment cool.
The ideal placement would be in the open on a server rack, or at least in cabinetry with open fronts and backs.
However if this isn’t feasible then you can implement cooling fans.
These commercial devices are quiet-running and specifically designed to cool your AV equipment.
One I’d specifically recommend is the AC Infinity AIRCOM S6.
What’s really cool about this one is it has an LCD digital display for the temperature, multiple fan speeds, and is even programmable with a multitude of features.
Plus it has the added benefit of being ultra quiet.
Generally you’ll find that the receiver has a specific area on top that gets really hot.
This area, the HDMI switching board, is typically the first part of the circuitry to fail, so proper cooling is certainly important.
7). Cleaning Blu-ray Players & Receivers
Given that receivers and Blu-ray players are commonly placed in the open, it makes them prime targets for dust accumulation.
The good thing though is that it’s pretty easy to clean them.
The easiest way to clean their chassis is with a soft microfiber cloth and a small amount of water.
If it’s particularly dirty then a light soapy solution can be used.
Just be careful to not use too much as the circuitry inside is delicate and can be damaged if any water gets into it.
What’s also important is to not use any cleaners that include chemicals like benzene or isopropyl alcohol as these will strip factory spray paints from the receiver’s chassis almost immediately.
Remember to clean the inside of the drop-down door of Blu-ray players & receivers too since dust is likely to gather in those places as well.
The connection terminals on the back of your av equipment should also be kept clean of any grime as it’ll help you maintain peak audio quality.
The best way to do this is with a Q tip and a quality contact cleaner that’s made for cleaning electronics.
This is a suitable choice in that case.
Spray a small amount of the contact cleaner on to the Q tip, and gently wipe speakers terminals, bare speaker wire, and banana/pin plugs.
Something to be aware of is not wiping them too often as the metal plating on the conductors can be corroded.
I would recommend only doing this once every 6 months max.
Dust is also likely to settle on the inside of your components due to their open vents, so a canless air duster can be used to blow it out.
Conventional compressed air cans shouldn’t be used as they tend to leave a brief liquid residue that can damage wiring & electronic boards.
Canless air systems work better due to the fact that they not only blow dry air, but are rechargeable & reusable.
All of this should be done while the units are unplugged.
8). Implement Proper Cable Management
Not only does having wires strewn all over the place take away from the aesthetic of your home theater, it can also be a tripping hazard as well.
There’s also the fact that it’s easier to troubleshoot should something go wrong, coupled with it allowing for proper AV performance in your system.
These are all reasons why proper cable management is of the utmost importance.
But to truly help you with organizing your cables, there’s a few things you need to know.
Firstly, you’ll want to separate the power cables away from the data cables.
Data cables specifically are the wires that carry data; meaning speaker cables, ethernet cables, HDMI cables, etc shouldn’t be close to cables that actually power your equipment.
Power cables, as you’d probably guess, are the wires that power your system.
Both sets of wires might even be shielded.
However even if these properly shielded cables don’t present any immediate induced voltage problems in your AV system, it’s a general rule of thumb to err on the side of caution and separate them regardless.
You can put them together, but I’d honestly say about 5 power cables can be tied together at the maximum.
You’ll want to be watchful with how much heat they build up since the more cables bundled together, the more heat that propagates.
If you prefer, you can still separate these and allocate each their own cable raceway or tie.
Speaking of which, things like hooks, ties, & cable raceways are all things that you’ll want to use to keep your setup looking neat.
You’ll also want to properly measure wire distance from your equipment to the terminal in whatever it’s connected to so that should that wire fail, you’ll know exactly how much you need.
That way, you won’t have to deal with excess lengths when it’s time to replace it.
To make it even easier on yourself, label each wire so that should a wire come loose or fail, you’ll know exactly which one is the culprit.
More specifically, color coding each can be a helpful way to remember the particular locations and types of each cable in your setup.
To help you with more specific ways on hiding speaker wires, be sure to check out the guide I did on that very thing!
9). Don’t Skimp on Proper Power Management
Another often overlooked aspect of home theater/ entertainment is caring for the components that power it.
More specifically, implementing proper power management to protect your devices while ensuring you’re getting the best possible performance is absolutely paramount.
Here’s how you can do exactly that.
First off, it’s highly recommended that you integrate some sort of surge protector or power conditioner into your system.
Ideally, a device that combines the 2 is preferable, but at the very least using a surge protector would be a good idea.
I speak from personal experience since a lightning storm a few years back actually fried my equipment when I wasn’t using one.
Safe to say I learned my lesson with that one lol.
Line conditioners are also a helpful aspect of power management since some of them can help clean up your audio and enhance your video performance by improving the quality of the power that’s delivered.
Luckily there’s devices that combine the 2 that make this an easy thing to implement.
Power conditioners are definitely helpful to consider for your equipment.
10). Bi-Wire Jumpers Can Loosen & Corrode
Some speakers have the ability to bi-wire (using 2 sets of speaker wire for treble & bass) and have what’s called bi-wire jumpers that allow the user to connect those wires.
But unfortunately, over time these jumpers can loosen and even experience corrosion.
So every year or so, I’d recommend removing and cleaning them to ensure your audio quality remains pristine.
A pink noise track can be a helpful way to check if there are any problems with the connection.
Video & Display Equipment
11). Cleaning Your Projection Screen & Projector Chassis
Like with anything, over time your projector screen can gather dust and dust.
What makes it difficult for me to recommend any one solution to this is the fact that each screen is different — meaning each will have different cleaning needs.
So what I would recommend is referring to the manufacturer’s guide to see what cleaning solutions can be used with your particular screen since using the wrong one could damage it.
As for the projectors chassis, you can use a dry or even slightly dampened micro fiber cloth to clean any excess dirt or grime it may have about every month or so.
12). Cleaning Dust & Fingerprints On The TV
The way you clean your television is definitely important as doing this wrong can result in you damaging the screen.
Starting with the bezels and stand, take a small microfiber clothe dampened with a tiny bit of water and carefully wipe these areas down.
I’ve found windex to be helpful with this, but be sure to check the manufacturer recommendations to see what exactly can be used to clean particular surfaces.
Do not use windex on the screen though as the screen has to be cleaned differently since it’s much more sensitive.
In order to properly clean your television screen, you’ll first want to make sure you’re in a well lit room and looking at it from an angle.
This will make it easier to spot any imperfections or splotches actually on the screen.
Just from daily life, it’s likely you’ll notice dust & fingerprints situated all over the screen.
Luckily it’s really easy to clean this so don’t fret.
Again taking a slightly dampened micro fiber cloth, wipe the screen using very gentle circular motions.
Do not apply any kind of pressure to the screen as that can very easily scratch or damage it.
Then take the dry portion of that same clothe, and go over that area with it to make sure there’s no lingering moisture.
Repeat this process for the entire screen until it looks like new again.
An easier way to clean the television though I’ve found is using electronic wipes.
These are specialized wipes specifically designed to clean delicate electronics.
It’s definitely personal preference, but I’ve found them to be a more efficient way to clean the screen without worrying about streaks.
13). Preventing & Remedying OLED Burn In
Renowned for their superior picture quality, OLED screens are definitely something to behold.
However there’s one drawback to these displays, and that’s screen burn in.
Screen burn happens when a stationary image on screen remains there for a prolonged period of time which causes that portion of the screen to permanently retain that element.
This can stem from a static logo from a specific channel, to a news ticker on a TV station.
While these sets have certainly gotten much better in recent years, burn in is still a thing that can technically happen.
So what can you do to avoid this, and how can you fix this if it does happen?
Well there’s a few things to remember.
Similar to burn in, screen retention is a prior form of burn in and is something that can be fixed by turning down the brightness on your display or using anti burn in software on your device.
It can even be remedied by simply playing the TV.
However burn is something that typically can’t be fixed.
So once you have it, it’s permanent.
You’ll want to avoid getting to this point though, and thankfully there are ways you can prevent this from even happening.
The most obvious would be not leaving stationary images on your television for long periods of time.
You can also lower the brightness to half, or even turn the TV off when it’s not in use.
Remember, the brighter your display, the more rapidly the pixels will decay.
Lowering the brightness helps slow that process.
Changing the channel periodically may help too.
Some displays even have a pixel shifting feature so that the image moves on a pixel level that’s unnoticeable to the average viewer.
This helps avoid any kind of image retention and protects the pixels from overuse.
If it’s a newer panel then there’s a good chance it has some sort of preventative measure specifically for burn in.
Check to see if yours does or if it’s still under warranty since that would allow the manufacturer to replace the panel.
14). Adjusting For Display Color Shift
Over time as your display ages, the color can gradually shift due to the components inside aging.
This color inaccuracy can result in the picture quality becoming washed out & dull, or even the opposite happening; the image looking over saturated and bright.
To remedy this, try adjusting the color gamut, the white balance, or even the gamma as these settings can help shift the tone back to normal.
Here’s more insight regarding how to do that.
15). Adjusting Projector Focus
Another thing that can happen over time is the projectors focus can shift, causing the image to either look blurry or become titled off axis.
It may even be a subtle change that you don’t notice initially.
Thankfully it’s pretty easy to fix this as it simply requires adjusting the sharpness or repositioning so that the image is represented correctly.
The text & pixels on the screen should appear sharp.
Depending on the particular projector, it may even have specific settings to fix this very thing so check to see if yours does.
16). Fixing The Projector’s Alignment
I touched on this previously, but the projector’s alignment is likely to shift over time with extended use.
A good way to test this is taking note of the framing of the image on screen.
If the image appears even slightly out of the frame, then it’s likely it needs to be adjusted either physically or in the settings.
17). Fixing The Projector’s Panel Alignment
Something that can happen in 3 panel projectors is their panels can shift with use.
Don’t forget to check every so often to be sure they’re still properly aligned.
18). Correcting Projector Lens Shift
It’s possible that through normal usage in your home theater, the lens in the projector itself can loosen – which can then throw the presentation of the entire image out of whack.
Occasionally check to make sure the lens is properly aligned and fitted securely in its housing.
The screws should be tight and everything should feel inert.
19). Cleaning The Projector Lens
While checking for lens tightness, another thing you should make sure of is that the projector lens is clean of any dust or debris.
Cleaning the projector lens can be done with a very gentle micro fiber clothe, however when there’s significant dust present, it’s highly recommended that a lens brush is used.
The brush should be used in light strokes since the lens is especially sensitive and can easily be scratched if you’re not careful.
When there’s grime or the lens develops a film over it though, you’ll need to use a lens cleaning fluid to restore its clarity.
However you don’t want to use cleaning fluids too often as they can reduce the device’s performance — and cleaning it improperly can damage it.
Fluids should only be used when the lens is really dirty and a clothe doesn’t suffice.
I definitely recommend checking what fluids can be used according to the manufacturer since each projector is different and thus will each have individual needs.
20). Fixing The Projector Mount
The mount of the projector can potentially loosen over time.
You’ll want to periodically check to make sure the mounting screws remain tight since you want it to remain as secure as possible.
Fixing this is pretty easy since it’ll simply involve tightening a few screws.
Using a washer under each screw might help too since it’ll ensure the mount remains sturdy and holds the projector in place.
21). Cleaning & Replacing The Projector Filter
Finally, one of the most important ways that to maintain the health of your projector is by cleaning and replacing its filter.
One of the most common causes of projector degradation results from a dirty filter.
This is becuse an obstructed filter impedes the proper air flow and ventilation that the projector needs to properly function.
So my recommendation to you is at about the 200 watch time hour mark, inspect the filter for any accumulated dust or debris and clean it — & if it’s really bad, I’d replace it.
Woo! This took a while!
But hopefully this comprehensive list of home theater maintenance tips & tricks is something you’ll find useful and can act as an exhaustive guide you can refer back on frequently.
With these tips, you can be assured that you’re getting the maximal performance out of your system and that you’re not making any mistakes that could hamper the life of your system.
Speaking of mistakes, be sure to check out this guide on 25 of the worst home theater mistakes that people often make (some even experienced people make!)
But that’s all I have for now so be sure to leave a comment below letting me know if you’ve found this guide helpful or if I’ve maybe missed something!
And share this article out so it helps as many as possible!
Until next time friends, make it easy, keep it simple. 😉
Hey everyone it’s nice to meet you. I’m Jasmere, the founder of Easy Home Theater. I’ve been with this hobby for many years now, and decided to create this site to share everything that I’ve learned from personal experience with you. I also happen to be a huge gamer, lover of all things tech related, and a major fitness buff. Feel free to say hey!