If your headphone jack has suddenly stopped working, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a serious fault. Here’s a few quick things to check before you haul the device off to the menders.

1. Is there fluff in your port?

This is actually a very common reason for audio ports (or indeed any port) not working. If you carry your phone in your jeans pocket, or any other place where lint builds up, dust and fluff can make their way into the headphone jack.

Eventually this builds up and gets compacted when you plug your headphones into the port. To check whether this is blocking the electrical contacts or preventing your headphones from completely plugging in, try using a thin plastic toothpick (you’ll find one on the top of most Swiss army knives) or a regular wooden one to gently coax out any debris that has taken up residence in your port.

Avoid metal tools, as these can damage the connections inside the port. Should you have a can of compressed air to hand, that’s also a good option.

2. If your phone connected to Bluetooth?

With so many of our home devices and headphones now using Bluetooth rather than wires, it’s quite possible that your audio is being routed somewhere other than through the headphone jack. Even if you haven't connected your phone manually, when previously paired devices (such as Bluetooth speakers or Amazon Echos) are in range, your phone may connect automatically.

Try turning off your Bluetooth settings to see if the sound returns.

3. Is the volume turned down or muted?

Another common reason for a lack of sound is if you’ve accidentally turned the volume down to zero or tapped the mute option at some point. Try opening up your settings menu and looking for the volume control or just use the buttons on your device to turn it up.

4. Check your headphones in another device

If the port is clear and you’re not connected to a Bluetooth device, the next thing to check is the state of your headphones or speakers. Over time, wires can fray or break inside, meaning they’ll no longer carry a signal. This tends to affect only one ear, but it's still possible for both to fail.

Try plugging the headphones into another device (one that you know works) to see if they generate any sounds. If not, then it could be that they no longer function, but if they do then it looks like the problem is with your device. You can also try plugging in a different pair of headphones to your phone, if you have a spare pair.

5.  Try restarting your device

Smartphones, laptops and tablets are complicated devices. Sometimes all those capabilities can get them a bit confused, resulting in erratic behaviour, including malfunctioning audio. If all else has failed to come up with a solution, try the time-honoured fashion of turning the device off and back on again. You’d be amazed how many problems this method has fixed over the years.

6.Fix or replace your device

So, you’ve tried everything, yet still the issue remains. This leaves you with a few choices. The first is to take the device to a repairer or contact the company you bought it from if it’s still within it warranty period.

Another route is to invest in some wireless earbuds or headphones, as this should bypass the problem of the broken port. For some great choices, check out our guides to the best headphones, best budget wireless earbuds, and best true wireless earbuds.

Of course, the most extreme option is to replace the device entirely. If you fancy stepping up to something new, here’s our pick of the best smartphones, best tablets and best laptops.