Horizontal TV Lines: 7 Causes and How to Fix It
After a long day of work, you settle onto your couch, ready to enjoy your favorite soap opera. Things are getting good — Sarah is about to reveal her secret love child, but suddenly, horizontal lines fill your television screen! Drama ruined.
Don’t let horizontal TV lines steal the show — learn about their causes, how to get rid of them, and what to do if your TV is unfixable.
What Causes Horizontal Lines on TV Screens?
1. Loose or Damaged Connections
Loose or faulty display connections are often the culprit of horizontal screen lines. Sometimes, unplugging and replugging your HDMI, VGA, or display cable will fix the problem. If reseating your input cable doesn’t get rid of the horizontal lines, replacing the cable may do the trick.
It’s also a possibility that the input port on the TV is damaged. In that case, swap to a different input port and see if it resolves your issue.
2. Faulty or Incompatible Peripherals
If swapping to another input got rid of the horizontal lines, it’s possible that the previous input cable or port isn’t damaged. Instead, one of your peripherals (DVD players, game consoles, etc.) may be faulty or incompatible with your TV. This is especially common with older devices, as they may not match your modern TV’s signal format, resolution, or refresh rate.
You can test this by connecting a proven device to the input port that was showing properly before the horizontal lines. If the lines go away, they were potentially caused by the previously connected peripheral.
When internal components get too hot, they can malfunction and cause all kinds of display problems. Old-school enclosed entertainment centers can reduce airflow to your TV and cause overheating. Additionally, dust, pet hair, and other debris can accumulate inside of your TV and block proper ventilation.
To prevent overheating, refrain from enclosing your TV and blow compressed air through its vents to remove blockages.
4. Magnetic Interference
If you’re experiencing flickering horizontal lines on your TV screen, magnetic interference could be the culprit. Though most modern TVs are equipped with anti-interference technology that mitigates this problem, it can still occur.
Try placing external electromagnetic sources, such as wireless routers, speakers, or unshielded electronic devices (like vintage radios or record players) further away from the TV.
5. Resolution Mismatch
A discrepancy between your TV’s native resolution and the resolution output by a peripheral can lead to scaling and image processing issues. These issues may result in visual issues such as horizontal lines.
If possible, adjust the resolution on the active connected device to match the native resolution of your TV. You can find your TV’s native resolution in its settings menu.
6. Timing Control Board Issues
Your TV’s timing control (t-con) board is responsible for controlling the timing and addressing of individual pixels on the screen. When a t-con board fails, it can result in a plethora of display abnormalities, including horizontal lines. If your con board has malfunctioned, it will need to be replaced by a professional.
7. Faulty Display Panel
Display panels can be fragile things, susceptible to image retention/burn-in, and a plethora of other problems. Worst comes to worst, your TV’s horizontal lines could be one of those problems. The repair and replacement of display panels is often costly and rarely worth it. If your panel has failed, it’s probably time to consider upgrading your TV.
How to Fix a Broken TV Screen with Lines
Though horizontal TV lines are often one of the signs that it might be time to upgrade your TV, they may not be unfixable (unlike water damage). If you’ve removed magnetic interference, checked inputs, and matched resolutions to no avail, give these simple fixes a try.
Try Power Cycling Your TV
Before doing anything else, take a page from tech-support call centers and try turning your TV off and back on again. Sometimes, all it takes to resolve graphical glitches is a simple reset. Follow these steps to power cycle your TV:
- Power off your TV.
- Unplug it from the power source.
- Wait for a couple of minutes.
- Turn it back on.
Perform a Software Update
Outdated software can occasionally lead to performance issues. Check to see if any software or firmware updates are available. Though it varies by make and model, you can generally access your TV’s update menu from the “system” or “about” settings submenu.
Conduct a Display Test
Many modern TVs enable you to run a self-diagnosing display test that will identify potential software and hardware problems. Once again, the availability and location of this feature depends on the make and model of your TV, but it is often found under a submenu titled “device care” or something similar.
Factory Reset Your TV
If you have a toddler who likes to play with your TV remote, it’s possible that your TV’s settings have gotten scrambled. Resetting your TV to factory settings serves as a last resort to fix horizontal lines caused by software.
Different brands have different factory reset locations, but generally, the option can be found under the “about” or “device preferences” settings submenu.
Check Whether the Lines are Visible on the TV Interface
Press the “home” button on your smart TV or open the settings menu on your not-so-smart TV. If the horizontal lines aren’t visible on the user interface (UI), then your TV probably doesn’t have a serious problem. It’s likely input-related, and you should double-check your cables and peripherals.
If you do see lines on the UI, then your TV likely has a hardware problem. Sometimes, internal ribbon cables and other connectors can get unseated, causing graphical issues. For a temporary, noninvasive solution, pretend your TV is a vending machine that ate your snack and (gently) give it a good ‘ol smack on the back. Doing so may reconnect any dislodged connections. This should be a last resort, though, as we never recommend abusing your electronics.
Still Have Horizontal Lines on Your TV Screen?
If none of our fixes worked, your TV could have a malfunctioning timing control board or display panel. Though replacing the component may fix your aging TV in the short term, it could develop other problems down the line. So don’t throw good money after bad — instead, consider upgrading your tired TV at Rent-A-Center. Our selection of budget-friendly, high-tech TVs ensures you can enjoy your favorite shows and movies without breaking the bank.