Troubleshooting TiVo Noise: What’s the Source?

Posted on December 16th, 2012, by Michael

Now that some TiVo DVRs can be as old as 13, we get a lot of questions about how to quiet the actual unit. The older units get, the louder they get, physically.

In a TiVo, there are basically two sources of on-going noise. There is also a third potential source of noise, but if you have that, your TiVo probably isn’t functioning. I’ll cover that at the end.

The two potential sources of noise inside a TiVo are the two moving parts: the fan and the hard drive. Both parts create friction and heat and wear out over time in ways that increase their noise. And both parts are replaceable, but the fan is much easier and less expensive to replace.

For most TiVos, there’s a pretty easy way to tell if the fan is the source of the noise or not. Just stick a toothpick in the fan grates, and see if the noise stops.

Fan grates on the back of popular model TiVos

Fan grates on the back of popular model TiVos

Be sure not to leave the toothpick in there – you don’t want to stop the air circulation inside your TiVo for too long. On some models, especially early DIRECTV TiVos, the fan is in the center of the unit, so you can’t reach it with a toothpick. You’ll have to open the unit and unplug the fan on those models.

If you’ve determined that the fan is the source of the noise, you can order a replacement fan for most TiVo models from our TiVo fan page.

On the other hand, if the noise continues once you’ve disabled your fan temporarily, then you very, very likely have a loud hard drive, and a loud hard drive is a problem for two reasons: the noise, and the increased friction that it’s experiencing, meaning it’ll likely fail before too long. Granted, we do see some drives come in to our office that sound like jet engines but perform fine, but usually noise = imminent failure.

We have replacement TiVo hard drive kits for every model of TiVo.

Then, the third potential source of noise from a TiVo is a ticking noise. This one is pretty rare, and if you hear it, most likely your TiVo isn’t booting at all. This is a failed power supply. My guess is, you’ve already figured that out or sent us the unit since this problem is much more urgent, but in case you haven’t, we have a complete line of replacement TiVo power supplies.

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