A DLP or LCD projector is a significant investment – much like buying a computer monitor or TV set. As such, taking care of it only makes sense since you want it to last as long as possible. This is the only way it can be a worthwhile investment – if it serves you for many years.
If you just bought a video projector, you need to commit to a regular and efficient maintenance schedule. The goal is to keep your machine working at its best and avoid costly repair expenses. The following Projector Maintenance Checklist will help you achieve this.
Projector Maintenance Checklist
There are many ways you can maintain your projector and extend its lifespan. Here is a breakdown of the maintenance checks you should regularly perform on your machine:
Overheating is detrimental to the proper functioning of many electronic devices, including projectors. While new and improved LED lamps do not produce as much heat as their less efficient predecessors, they can heat up if you use your projector for extended periods of time.
Operating your projector next to a heating vent or in direct sunlight can also cause it to overheat. You can prevent this by allowing your projector to cool off often during a viewing marathon and placing it in a well-ventilated area. Additionally, you need to clean out the fans at least once a week to remove dust.
Dust accumulation can prevent your projector’s fans from cooling the system efficiently. Regular cleaning coupled with allowing your projector to cool regularly should help protect it from overheating. When you shut it down, you should also take your time to avoid trapping any non-dissipated heat.
The projection window or lens is central to viewing on a projector. If you do not clean this area, your images and display may appear out of focus or smudged. You can avoid this problem by regularly wiping off the projection window with a clean cloth – like the one you use to clean spectacles.
Some projector manufacturers and supplies provide buyers with lens cleaning paper, which is soft enough not to scratch the lens. If not, you can buy a lens towel at your nearest electronic supply store. You may also need a lens cleaning solution for stubborn stains.
You should clean your lens every week. The steps are as follows:
- Run a canister of compressed air over the lens to dislodge dust and debris.
- Moisten a soft lens cloth or lens cleaning paper with a lens cleaning solution and gently wipe the surface.
- Give it a few minutes to dry.
Warning: Never scrub the projector window with abrasive materials.
The third maintenance routine involves properly setting up the lamp timer on your projector. The lamp timer tells you when you need to change the lamps on your machine by estimating the lamp life left on your bulbs. To do this, it needs to keep track of your usage by the hour.
LED lamps last between 20,000 and 50,000 hours, and halogen lamps can run for 1,500 to 5,000 hours. Once you buy a projector, set up the lamp timer as described in the manual to get it working correctly.
You can then check the lifespan of your lamps from time to time by checking them for burnout or using the menu on the projector. Essentially, you check the usage so far and deduct it from the average lifespan.
How do you access your lamp hours? It will depend on the model of your projector. In some models, you press the power button for several seconds, and a display pops up. Others require you to use the user interface, while others report lamp hours to you through a smartphone app.
Lamp replacement goes hand in hand with lamp life. If checking the lifespan left on your projector’s bulbs reveals you need to replace them, you should do so immediately. It is important to note that some projectors will continue to run with powerless bulbs.
In this case, you need to monitor your projector’s display for dimming light or a light that suddenly goes out. Always replace the bulb with the exact make and model as was in the projector originally or with alternatives recommended by the manufacturer in the manual.
The filters on your projector need to be working properly for the system to function efficiently. Over time, filters will get clogged with debris and dust particles, leading to overheating. The solution is to clean the filter once or twice a week when the projector is in regular use.
Some projector models allow you to manually detach the filter and clean it. Others, however, have a permanent filter, so you need to use compressed air to clean. It is also recommended that you have the filter replaced every couple of years to extend your projector’s lifespan.
Projectors emit warm air and heat, which need to be dissipated lest they overheat the electrical components in the system. This is why projectors have ventilation and why you should keep this era free of dust, debris, and any other form of obstruction. For example, you should never place your projector next to a wall such that the vents are blocked.
Several times a week, use a paper towel or cloth to unclog the vents on your projector. You should also monitor the sounds coming from the ventilator to diagnose potential problems early. The goal is to keep the fans flowing and the vents as clear as possible.
If you own a ceiling-mounted projector, direct the intake fan away from air and heat vents and keep the area around it clean and decluttered. Do not hang any ornaments in this area.
Image Quality Test
Another way to keep your projector in top shape is to conduct regular image quality tests. Depending on the model, you can do this through the automatic diagnostic setting or the colors test. This is where you focus on one displaying color at a time to detect quality issues.
If, by displaying the colors one at a time, you notice problems with clarity, you may need to replace some parts on your projector. The best next step here is to visit a repair shop.
Cleaning your projector extends beyond just the lens. While a dirty lens can cause blurry images, a dirty case can inhibit the proper functioning of your projector’s components. Here is how you clean it:
- Run a soft, dry piece of cloth over the case to remove dust and dirt.
- If there are some stains on the case, apply a mild non-alcohol based, non-ammonia, non-abrasive detergent onto the cloth and wipe again.
Warning: Never use chemical detergents to wipe a projector case. This includes thinner, benzene, alcohol, ammonia, and wax.
Power Cord Assessment
The power cord is an oft-neglected part of the projector, but it is a very crucial component. You need to check and replace the power cord regularly as needed as well as all other cords that connect your projector to other devices. Check for pest damage, cut lines, and exposed wires.
You should also check if the small metal pins that connect the projector to another source are missing or bent. If possible, look into a wireless connection for your projector, especially if you live with children or pets. Children can trip over cords when they play, and pets can chew through them.
The accessories you use with your projector must likely run on batteries. A good example is a remote control or laser pointer tool. To keep them running properly, you should check their batteries regularly and replace them as needed. Replace each set of batteries with the same brand as the original.
- Remove all the batteries from the laser pointer or remote control.
- Retract the projector’s adjuster foot completely.
- Keep the humidity and temperature in the storage area at the recommended range. A good rule of thumb is not too hot and not too wet.
- Store the projector in its original packaging.
General Safety Tips
All in all, every projector is different and has unique cleaning and maintenance requirements. The best way to go is to read your projector’s manual and learn what the manufacturer recommends you should do and when. Other general tips to keep in mind include:
- Always turn off your projector when you finish with it and unplug it from the outlet.
- Never pour or spray any liquid onto the projector’s case.
- Never remove any projector parts unless you are a skilled expert. Consult a technician, reseller, or manufacturer to avoid voiding your warranty.
Whether you bought your projector for home entertainment, learning purposes, or work, it was a hefty investment, and you need to take care of it. This Projector Maintenance Checklist will help you stay on top of tasks designed to keep your projector in proper working condition for as long as possible.
The most important thing to do is keep your projector cool, track lamp life, and replace worn components. The lifespan of your projector will boil down to proper storage, component replacement, and proper cleaning of the filter and ventilation. Finally, always consult the manufacturer’s manual.