What is screen-burn, and how do you fix it?

By Mike Atherton 13 Mar 2018
Screen burn

Screen-burn (also known as burn-in, or image retention) used to be a problem with older CRT and plasma screens, but it’s not as big an issue with modern LED and OLED TVs. That doesn’t mean it can’t still happen, and when it does, it can be tricky to fix.

What does screen-burn look like?


Screen-burn tends to look like a ghost image that doesn’t move, even if the picture is moving. It’ll usually happen in the corner of the screen and you’ll be able to see it all the time, no matter what you’re watching.

What causes burn-in?


Screen burn is caused by the screen displaying a single image for a long period of time, like a channel logo, or game image if you play one particular game for a long time. When pixels stay switched on for a while, the static image can get ‘burned’ into the screen meaning it will always be visible.

On older CRT and plasma screens, the pixels actually wear our, rather than burn an imprint into the screen, leaving a ghost-like effect.

With LED screens, the problem is also known as ‘image retention’. The pixels open and close to let light through, and if they stay open for a long time to show a particular image, they can get stuck - find out more about how to fix stuck pixels.

OLED and QLED TVs can suffer from temporary image retention which means you might still see a ‘ghost’ image for a short time after there has been a bright static image displayed on the screen. It’s very rare that this sort of image retention is permanent and Samsung are so confident about their TVs that they offer a 10 year screen-burn warranty.

How to fix screen-burn


Unfortunately, screen-burn on a plasma or CRT TVs is usually permanent and can’t be fixed. If you’re seeing image retention on an LED screen, just try turning the TV off for a few minutes - this will usually fix it.

Stuck pixels are slightly different - take a look at our article on how to identify and fix stuck or dead pixels.

OLED is a more advanced version of LED and the problem of ghosting or image retention can usually be fixed in the same way - just turn the TV off for a few minutes. Many OLED TVs run a maintenance cycle every so often to make sure the pixels are working properly.

If you have a problem with image retention or stuck pixels and you’ve tried everything to fix it. Your TV might need an expert repair, find out more about our TV repair service here.

Hopefully, that’s helped you to understand what screen-burn is, and what to do if your TV has a problem with it. If you need help with anything else, you can contact one of our Team Knowhow experts here.

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