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Six-Step Troubleshooting Procedure

You may have the job of maintaining or helping to maintain some piece of equipment, subsystem, or
system. Some of these jobs may be complex, but even a complex job can be broken down into simple
steps. Basically, any troubleshooting and repair of equipment should be done in the following order:

1. Symptom recognition
This is the action of recognizing some disorder or malfunction in equipment.

2. Symptom elaboration
The purpose of this step is to obtain a more detailed description of the trouble. Use available operations
data from HMI/SCADA, meters, and gauges, code monitoring, data table monitoring, programmable
device configurations, operator controls, built-in test equipment, etc., to try to elaborate. What
additional symptoms exist?

3. Listing probable faulty functions


This step is applicable to equipment that contains more than one functional area or unit. From the
information you have gathered, what function could the trouble logically be in? For programmable
electronic systems, don’t forget to include programming and interconnecting wiring as possible faulty
functions. For mechanical systems, don’t forget to include valve positions and interconnecting
piping/ducting as possible faulty functions.

4. Localizing the faulty function


In this step you determine which of the functional units of the multiunit equipment is at fault. This is the
first step where test equipment (other than that built into equipment) is used. For programmable
control systems, consider inputs, outputs, programming, power sources, grounding, feedback paths, and
problems within the physical system you are controlling when attempting to isolate the faulty function.

5. Localizing trouble to the component


You will do extensive testing in this step to isolate the trouble to a specific component.

6. Failure analysis
This step is multipart. Here you determine:

• Which part is faulty


• Repair/replace the part
• Determine what caused the failure
• Return the equipment to its proper operating status
• Evaluate the operation to ensure it is working properly
• Record the necessary information in a recordkeeping book for other maintenance personnel in
the future

While not necessarily a part of this step, you may wish to reorder any parts used in repair of the faulty
equipment or any consumable items used during the troubleshooting and repair process.
Based on excerpts from Navy Electricity and Electronics Training Series, Module 19, The Technician’s Handbook, NAVEDTRA 14191, September
1998.