Troubleshooting Methodology

Chris’s troubleshooting tips


We all troubleshoot every day without even thinking about it.

Consider the following. You come downstairs early one morning bleary-eyed on a work day. Man, you need your coffee! You put the kettle on and nothing, no LED on kettle, no sound of boiling.

 Now in an engineering context, some engineers may

 1) Replace the kettle

2) Change the element in the existing kettle

3) Change the power lead

4) Change the fuse in the existing and new plugs

5) Check the new fuse with a multimeter

 By the time you've done the above, you're late for work.

 Do you have a toaster? Plug it into the same socket as the kettle.

 Does the toaster work?

 1) No - socket's probably dead

2) Yes – Try the fuse, kettle lead in another appliance, another known-working lead in the kettle . . . .

 As you can see, taking a logical, step-by-step approach allows you to eliminate the possible causes one at a time.

 I believe it was Sherlock Holmes (or should that be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) who said:

 How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?


There are many methods to troubleshoot. Experience will dictate the probability of each method's suitability. Until you gain that experience, there will be a lot of trial and error. This is normal.

You could have plugged the kettle straight into another socket, sorted your coffee and gone to work. Now that's a very simple example obviously. However, now do you see what I mean about experience dictating speed and methodology chosen?

You could sum that all up with the following key statement


As you go along, you will quickly build up a massive database of mental notes as regards possible solutions. The next time you had a dead appliance, things would hopefully be solved far more quickly.

You will never reach the top of the learning curve which is actually a good thing!

I get bored easily. The great thing about problems is that they are never ending. Also, 2 people can have what is ostensibly the same problem but don't be fooled; sometimes 2 different solutions are needed. Trust me, you will never get bored!

See troubleshooting as a positive experience. I genuinely relish solving a whole variety of problems. I think for no other reason than the wonderful feeling you get as the answer comes.

You too can experience that uncontrollable smile spreading across your once-stressed face as the problem disappears into the ether.

We'll start off with some simple steps.

Rather than a rigid Report type structure, I'll type pretty much as I think. Everyone understands things differently. I can personally empathise with that statement as I have a light but heady mix of Dyslexia, Autism and ADHD. If you're reading this and thinking "I'll never understand all this . . ." then you are wrong. IMHO a non-conventional thinker may just find things easier than those who are able to follow the cognitive grooves into which Society tries to force us.

 To be continued . . .