If you are like most people, you realize the importance of maintenance. We are all affected by maintenance, like it or not. If we do not perform regular maintenance, we understand that things will either not last as long, not work as well, or break down. We maintain our bodies, our teeth, our minds, our finances, automobiles, and even our lawn mowers. Why don’t many of us place the same importance on our expensive home theater system?
If you own an intricate home theater, control system, whole-house muse music system, or any sophisticated entertainment system, you know that technology changes rapidly. Your system is constantly getting bombarded with firmware updates, or not, while the AV world moves at a lightning pace. New features, enhancements, bug fixes and updates are probably available for most of your components, and hopefully, after many months of usage, everything still “plays nice” with each other.
As a home theater specialist, we often see the ramifications of a system that is not properly maintained. Many of our calls involve addressing problems with projects that we did not install. Unfortunately, many of these new clients think the system is not functioning properly because of something the original AV company did, when in fact, the system was installed and calibrated perfectly! The failure of the client to properly maintain the system, or the original company to not offer regular maintenance service is the reason why the system is not working properly, or is not up to par with expectations.
What happens from the time your AV installer leaves your home to the time your system starts to show some compromise? Is it a little gremlin that runs around your equipment rack, ripping out wires and pressing buttons it shouldn’t? Is it that you opted for the cheaper package and your equipment is not of adequate quality? Could it be that the equipment only works properly for 2 years? The answer here is assuredly, no to all the above.
Chances are the system is not being properly maintained. Just like making regular trips to the doctor, or the local oil change, your home theater system relies on regular maintenance. How often regular maintenance is needed probably depends on the size of your system, type of components and technology, and many other factors. Things happen over time such as cables and emitters coming loose and unplugged (usually due to a third party interacting with the rack, like the local cable company), firmware updates that are not run, or not run properly, or create havoc for another component, something breaking down for one reason or another, (if maintained will almost always be caught during a warranty period), or some other system affected by weather, the cleaning lady, or too much heat. By subscribing to regular maintenance service from your AV installer, you can avoid problems before they happen, and enjoy the latest and greatest features of your entertainment system.
Here are some tips on how to insure your system is being maintained properly:
- Sign an annual or bi-annual regular maintenance service call with the AV company that performed your installation. Ask your prospective AV company if they offer regular maintenance service contracts before they do the installation. If they don’t, move on!
- If your system consists of multi-components, make sure an equipment rack is in place. They not only properly organize wires and provide ventilation for your sensitive components, but they make it easier for your custom integrator to service. Your system will perform noticeably better with a rack than without one.
- Make sure your system is getting enough ventilation and is not building up excess heat. Heat will put some wear and tear on most of your components and cause other calamities (like emitters falling off). Keep your system as cool as possible, and let it breathe. If you notice your system is creating too much heat, inquire about a cooling system. They are not expensive and can add life to all your components.
- Dust can wreak havoc on a system, so be sure to properly keep your system clean. Dusting regularly is recommended, but make sure it is done carefully as to not un-root any cables or connections. I recommend a Swiffer Microfiber Telescoping Dusting Wand which is about $10 and can get to those hard to reach places within your equipment rack. Regular vacuuming around the area of the rack will reduce the dust and dirt that can contaminate components.
- Explain to the children, the cleaning lady, and anyone else who can meddle with the equipment rack that it is not to be touched.
- If your cable, satellite, or any other service that needs to interact with your rack in some way schedules a visit, let your AV installer know. It is important they are aware of any possibility that there may be questions or issues raised, and they can make themselves available should a problem arise. They can also provide specific instructions for these people to better understand the situation.
- Make a cumulative list of issues, requests, and questions for your AV installer so that when the service call is made, all items can be addressed in some manner. This is y our opportunity to make sure your experience is optimal.
- Shortly before your regular maintenance call, ask your installer if they recommend anything that will upgrade or enhance your experience. If you already have something in mind, ask them if they recommend that technology for your situation and what they think of it.
- Remember, maintenance is not contacting your AV installer when something goes wrong, it is being proactive, with a plan in place, so that your system performs optimally, especially during big events like the Super Bowl, World Series, or movie night.
Now that home technology systems are connected to the Internet, your system can last for a very, very long time without becoming very outdated. By putting a regular scheduled maintenance plan in place, your entertainment system will provide you and your family with enjoyment for many years to come.