I bought a TV wall mount, and then when I went to set it up, I couldn’t unfold it to attach it. It took some time but I figured out what to do. Here’s what to do when your TV wall mount won’t unfold.
TV wall mounts have to be very tight to support the mass of a TV, and without the mass of a TV on them, they can be difficult to unfold. You may have to get creative to reach the adjustment screws, and try turning them the opposite way you think. If you just can’t reach the screws, a little bit of disassembly may be necessary to get to them, but this isn’t terribly difficult to do.
Try this if you can reach the screw or nut
Foldable TV wall mounts usually have at least two screws or nuts that you loosen or tighten to adjust their resistance. When the resistance is too low, the TV won’t stay in position. But when the resistance is too high, you can’t adjust the TV, or worse yet, you can’t even mount the unit. That was the problem in my case. When I tried to pry the unit apart, it felt like I was going to break something.
If you can reach the adjustment screws or nuts but they just won’t budge, that’s easy to solve, just not necessarily obvious. The screws shouldn’t be hard to turn. If they are, forget righty-tighty, lefty-loosey and turn right. It will probably turn, and you’ll probably be surprised how easily it turns.
You’ll probably find that you turn it too much and it becomes sloppy, but you can turn the screws back to re-tighten it. You’ll never get it back tight as it was from the factory, at least not tightening by hand, and you’re probably fine with that.
Try this if you can’t reach the screw or nut
While you’re supposed to use an Allen wrench to turn the screw, the screw has a knurled side. I probably could have reached in there with a pair of locking pliers, maybe even without removing the VESA mount plate that attaches to the TV.
Just lock onto the screw as best you can, and turn it whichever direction doesn’t fight you. You’ll probably be surprised how easily it turns and frees up the unit.
What to do when you can’t reach the adjustment screws
The problem was, the unit had to be open to get to the screws that would let me adjust it. There’s a big cap screw under the part that folds up and down that you loosen or tighten to adjust the tension. I was in a bit of a Catch-22 unless I could figure out how to take it apart. Fortunately, disassembly isn’t too hard, but it may not be your only option either.
Step one should be trying a small pair of pliers, like I mentioned above. Then you can move on to the other two possible options.
Living dangerously: Mounting it anyway
If you like to live dangerously, you can try just going ahead and mounting it with whatever screws are accessible. It’s possible that once it’s secured to something substantial, you’ll be able to pull it down with enough force to open it. With the weight of the house on one side and you on the other, as opposed to your left hand trying to counter your right, it may prove easier to open.
But if you do this, be sure to attach at least two more screws after you get it open. Also make sure you’re attaching to at least one wall stud, or else you’ll just rip the unit right off the wall.
It’s probably safer to disassemble it. That’s what I opted to do.
Disassembling a TV wall mount to loosen it
In my case, I bought a Monoprice PID 5754. Other foldable wall, ceiling, or under-cabinet mounts will probably be similar. There are two plastic covers on either side of the hinge that hide two screws. Their purpose probably is decorative, but they may also cover some sharp edges. At any rate, those covers snap off. You may have to remove the VESA mounting plate to remove them completely. That attaches with two Philips screws. One of mine came off just fine with the plate in place, but the other wouldn’t.
Once you remove those covers, you’ll see two Philips-head screws holding the assembly together. At first I thought loosening those screws would loosen the unit and allow me to unfold it. That wasn’t the case with this one, but it might be with yours. Try loosening those first. If the TV wall mount still won’t unfold, you’ll have to disassemble it.
First things first: At this point, take some photos as you disassemble it, so you can see how the parts go back together. Putting it back together wasn’t exactly complicated, just fiddly.
In the case of the Monoprice 5754, the screws just hold the pivot on the mounting plate, but the parts don’t pivot on the screws. So mine disassembled into three parts, plus two screws and a big plastic washer.
Adjusting the adjustment screws
Once the unit was in pieces, my biggest problem was the screws wouldn’t budge. Remember that thing I said before about forgetting righty-tighty, lefty-loosey? Once I turned right, they freed right up.
Reassembling the TV wall mount
Reassembly wasn’t difficult. One side was keyed. The other side wasn’t keyed, and that side took the big plastic spacer washer. That took a little patience to get into place, but it was a frustrating 30 seconds, not an ordeal. The plastic covers snapped right back into place. I recommend putting them back before the VESA mounting plate. Replacing the VESA mounting plate was just a matter of two more Philips screws, which is easy work. The hardest part, far and away, was that plastic spacer washer.
With the screws back in place, the unit went together and would fold and unfold with a reasonable amount of force. Then I was able to mount the unit and put it into use.
If your TV wall mount won’t unfold, the solution for yours will probably be very similar to mine.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.