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Ok, have you tryed to unplug all of the wires from the sub, including the power wire from the wall. Install of the speaker wires to the sub, and plug back in the sub. Also what are the numbers on the speakers and the sub.
What do you mean that it sometimes doesn't work? It doesn't power on automatically? Check settings of your receiver - if it has subwoofer output enables and if low frequencies from all channels are directed also to the SUB. By default only the LFE channel (.1) of 5.1 signal input is fed to the subwoofer. So Sub will work in this case only when you listen to 5.1 signal (DVD movie for example), but for radio or stereo music, only front speakers are used. By configuring this bass redirect, you can use subwoofer for all signal types.
Your subwoofer probably has both high-power inputs and "normal"low inputs. The first are for receivers, which don't have link-level output for sub, so they are able to take already amplified signal as input. You need to use link-level input of your sub and connect it to subwoofer-output of your receiver. The output is marked as OUTPUT - Subwoofer and is black-color RCA plug (don't confuse with subwoofer INPUT under MULTI CH INPUT). Receiver has only mono output for subwoofer. If your sub has stereo input (white/red RCA plugs), connect just the left channel to the receiver, it will still work. Don't connect anything to the speaker output on the sub, you don't need that.
Get a powered sub-woofer that has speaker level inputs, then run your front speaker wires into the sub-woofers speaker level input and then run a set of speaker wires from the sub-woofers speaker wire output to your front speakers. This is a common way to use a sub-woofer with a receiver that doesn't have a sub-woofer output.
Most powered sub-woofers have these connections, just check it out first before you buy one. They look like speaker jacks on the back of the receiver.
Check the connection with the subs. See if all wires are connected or check for any break in the wire. Also make sure that the RCA's are connected to the subwoofer output at the back of your deck. Also check setting on your AMP.