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Maintaining and Troubleshooting Your Smart Home Technology

By establishing a few simple habits, you can prolong the life of your equipment: 

  • Keep Your Technology Clean and Dry – Avoid placing equipment in dirty or cluttered areas. This includes routinely checking for dust buildup which can impact the device’s performance and air circulation. Also keeping equipment in a dry area will decrease the chance for shortage or electrical shock. 
  • Keep Your Technology Updated – Most devices that are connected to the internet run firmware, which is software installed permanently on the device by the manufacturer. Some firmware updates happen automatically; others must be completed by you. Not all devices have auto-updates, so check to see if this will need to be performed manually-usually you can find available updates in the device’s app.
  • Check charging instructions to maintain or extend battery life – Some equipment comes with specific instructions about battery charging and maintenance. For example, many new devices need to be plugged in to reach a full charge before being used for the first time. And some devices should not remain plugged in with a full battery. Following the manufacturer’s instructions will help extend the life of the device’s battery.

Common Issues and Solutions 

Eventually you are bound to run into an issue with your smart home technology. If you encounter an issue, open your device’s app first and look for a section called information, support, or troubleshooting. These sections typically contain information about the issue and any updates needed to correct them.

Below is a list of common problems and a few quick possible ways to repair the breakdown. 

Network Connectivity Issues

Possible Signs:

  • Internet is not connected
  • Error messages such as:
    • Network Error
    • Internal Server Error
    • Limited or No Connectivity

Steps to Repair:

  1. Power off/on the device. If this doesn’t fix the issue, go to the next step. 
  2. Check your internet router for lights. Any red lights or blinking lights can indicate an outage. 
  3. If your router lights are out, check the power cord to ensure it is connected firmly. 
  4. If there are still no lights, hit the router’s reset button or unplug the power cable from your router for five minutes and then plug it back in. Be sure to check the connection to a power outlet and that it has not come unplugged accidentally. 
  5. If your router is still not working, contact your internet service provider (ISP) to rule out any issues on their end. 

No Power Supply

Possible Signs:

  • Lights are turned off
  • Screens are blank
  • No response when pressing buttons
  • Device or connected appliances are unresponsive 

Steps to Repair:

  1. Ensure that your device is plugged into a “live” outlet. 
  2. If it’s firmly plugged in and there’s still no power, try plugging another device into the same outlet to check for a current. 
  3. If the new device also will not power on, check your breaker box for a blown fuse/circuit or contact your electrician. If, however, the new item does power on, the issue may be with your smart device’s power cord or the connection between the power cord and the device itself. 

    (Note: If the device is plugged into a power strip with multiple outlets, be certain that the strip’s power button is still in the “on” position. The power buttons on power strips can easily be turned off with the slightest contact from a foot, furniture, or poor positioning under a desk.) 

Devices Are Not Working Together

Possible Signs:

Messages such as:

  • Cannot connect to device
  • Device is unresponsive
  • Unable to connect with device

Steps to Repair:

  1. Ensure all devices have power and are connected to the wireless network. 
  2. Ensure that there are no physical obstructions that may be blocking the signal, such as a new appliance with a large metal surface, a new lampshade with metal in it, or even a person sitting in a new spot. 
  3. Ensure all devices that require subscriptions are paid, up-to-date, and have an active and current card on file for monthly charges. If a device subscription runs out, this will immediately impact whether your smart home system is working correctly. 
  4. If your devices are not recognizing one another, attempt to “reset” the device in question. This is often done by triggering a small reset button somewhere on the device, accessible with a manufacturer tool or paper clip. Please refer to your device’s manual for step-by-step instructions on how to perform a proper device reset. 
  5. Lastly, ensure that all apps being used have been updated and are running current versions. As new versions or updates are distributed, the performance of your devices can be impacted in many ways if the devices and their apps are not up-to-date.

What To Do if It Still Isn’t Working 

If you are still having trouble, here are a few other things to try: 

  • Contact the manufacturer. Beyond helping with set up, the company may be able to help you troubleshoot if you are encountering a problem. 
  • Perform an online search that specifically states your issue, as well as the make and model of the device, and the version of the firmware being run in the app. If other people have had the same issue, it may be as simple as a quick search to uncover the answer. 
  • Search online forums for threads on the issue you’re having. Relevant forum threads will often pop up in search engine results. 
  • Check YouTube for videos on how to fix an issue with your smart home technology as well as how to set it up and use it. 
  • Read the device manufacturer’s help section or FAQ’s on their website. Some device websites have a comprehensive help section or frequently asked questions that may provide solutions. 
  • Check the manufacturer’s repair/replacement policy or the warranty. Many devices may be repaired or replaced if they stop working. Keep the date of purchase and your registration handy to complete a repair request. 
  • Search for smart home repair companies online that you can hire to help with your technology. Some of these companies provide help virtually, while others will make house visits to install or repair your system. 
  • Contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) if you think you’re having issues with your internet connection that are not solved by rebooting the router. If you rent your router from your ISP, they might need to do a remote update or replace the router with a newer version.
Funding for Maintenance Services

Did you know Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) offers zero-interest and low-interest loans to cover the cost of maintenance and other services?

Learn About PATF