TIP: Older DIRECTV DVR making noise? Might be fixable!

As your equipment ages, you may notice that it has gotten noisier. This can be due to a lot of different things, and while there are some you can fix, there are other things you just can’t do without voiding the warranty on the box.

First, it’s worth pointing out that most DIRECTV receiver models (non-DVR) do not have fans. Very old ones do, but most of them do not and therefore should run silently. If you think your H24 or H25 receiver is making noise, for example, [strike]run for your life it’s probably possessed[/strike] this would be a sign of something very wrong.

If you have a DIRECTV H10 or H20 receiver, these models have reached end-of-life and should probably be replaced.

It’s also worth noting that some modern DVRs like the DIRECTV HR34 do have very large fans and some level of noise is to be expected. All DVRs have hard drives that make noise, and that’s to be expected. However, if you have been living with your older DVR for years, you probably know the noises it is supposed to make and if it’s making some new noises [strike]it’s possessed[/strike] there could be some simple mechanical reasons.

(sorry folks, I couldn’t help putting in a little levity above.)

Here are three common noises you might hear and how to deal with them.

Excess Fan Noise

If your DVR’s fan is working harder than it used to, and the temperature in the room is about the same as it used to be, this might be due to imminent fan failure. If the DVR’s fan fails the rest of the device will very quickly heat up and become unusable. If it’s just a louder-than normal fan blowing, try unplugging the DVR and blowing some canned air through the slots in the DVR, onto the main board and the fan to dislodge dust. Use a flashlight shining into the DVR to see what you’re doing.

If you hear the occasional “skidding” noise coming from the fan, this may be a sign that the fan is about to fail and it might be time to start watching what’s on that DVR and preparing for an upgrade.

Excess Hard Drive Noise

Your DVR is always doing maintenance and for the most part, it shouldn’t worry you if your hard drive is crunching a little loudly from time to time. If your hard drive seems louder for a period of days, check to see when the most recent software update was. Use the following sequence to check your software version:

  • Press {MENU} then scroll to “Settings and Help.” Press {SELECT}.
  • Arrow over to “Settings” and press {SELECT}.

You should see your software version and the date it was installed. If that date is within the last week, some extra hard drive noise is normal. If it continues for several weeks, you may have some reason for concern.

If you think there may be something wrong with your hard drive, just reset the DVR and it will test itself automatically as part of the startup process. If possible, errors will be fixed and if they can’t be, you’ll know.

Screeching or buzzing noises

The most common noise problems from DVRs come from one of two sources. Either the top cover starts to vibrate against the chassis of the DVR (This is especially common in HR20s) or the whole device starts to vibrate against the shelf it is on. Press gently against the case to see if the vibrations stop. If they do, try placing felt squares or even wadded up paper towels under the feet of the DVR. If it is the top cover vibrating against the case, gently shimming the case with a business card or other piece of cardboard may help this.

Don’t open that case!

At this point, all these receivers are way out of warranty, but you still shouldn’t open them up because they are still leased equipment. Although in most cases DIRECTV doesn’t want this equipment back, if they do ask for it you’ll get charged a hefty fee if they find the box has been tampered with.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.