As an electrician, I often get call-outs to fix people’s bad TV reception, it is always an easy fix. Outdoor TV antennas are built tough and can last 10-20 years outside in the rain, hail, and shine. They may require some tender loving care every so often to keep their antennas and cables in top condition.
In this post, we are going to look at how to fix TV antenna connectors, wiring, and something called a balun. This will allow you to have flawless reception in the digital world. As well I will show you how to service your TV antenna yourself.
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If any part of the TV antenna fails you will get no reception. This is displayed on your TV as “No signal” or sometimes a frozen image or block. Digital is different from analog. You could set a static, snowy or blurred picture back in the old analog days. Your TV reception just won’t work.
What are the main parts of a TV antenna?
To fix your TV signal you first need to know how to diagnose the problem. There are 4 main parts to a TV antenna they are:
- Outdoor digital TV Antenna
- Coaxial Cable – RG6
- Matching Transformer also know as an Antenna Balun
- Antenna Mast
The outdoor TV antenna is often outside on your roof-mounted to a pole. It should be pointed in the direction of the TV transmitting stations.
The TV antenna will be connected to a little electrical device called an antenna Balun. An electrical transformer connects an antenna (antenna), and a coaxial cable (unbalanced signal). This is where water can easily get in, and it is what often fails.
The coaxial cables will often be an RG6 cable that goes from the antenna to the wall near the TV. They will terminate at one end with an F-type connector.
The antenna mast lifts the antenna above the roofline so it can get an uninterrupted wireless signal from the TV transmitting stations.
How to fix TV antenna connector?
To fix a TV antenna connector you will need a few basic tools everyone should have in their garage such as spanners, screwdrivers, cable ties. Cable clamps, ladder, knife, hammer, electrical tape and a knife. To prevent corrosion of connectors, it is recommended that you spray some electrical spray. A balun and F-type connectors may also be useful. These will be discussed in more detail later in this article.
You can usually just screw the RG6 coaxial cable back together if it has fallen apart. To prevent corrosion and make them waterproof, I place a small amount of dielectric oil on the threads.
If you’re using an RG6 crimping fitting, then the process of removing coaxial cable from it will be different. Below is a diagram showing the areas that need to be stripped and the lengths.
How to fix a broken antenna cable
Most modern-day antenna cables are 6-7mm in size. These cables are also known as coaxial cables. There are three types of coaxial cables for video applications: RG59/U (RG6/U), RG11/U (RG11/U), and RG11/U (RG11/U). These cables are usually terminated with an F Type connector.
RG-6 is a coaxial cable with an 18 AWG (1.024 mm center conductor) and 75-ohm resistance. It has an outside diameter of 6.9mm / 0.275″ Inch.
You will need to check all of the connection points on the TV antenna. You can clean all the connections with fine sandpaper. Make sure that the balun isn’t hanging in the wind and secure all cables with clamps or cable ties. You will need to tie it down.
Primarily used for cable TV, HFC, set-top boxes, cable modems, the F coaxial connector is a 75Ω connector often used in conjunction with standard RG59 and RG6 75Ω coaxial cables.
These twist-on F-type connectors from Amazon are easy to use and don’t require any special tools like a crimper.
Coaxial cables explained
Coaxial cables are mainly built up of these four different layers:
- A centre conductor which is usually a copper wire, which data and video travels through
- Surrounding the copper wire is a dielectric plastic insulator
- A braided mesh made from copper then helps to shield the cable from electromagnetic interference (EMI)
- The external layer is a plastic coating which protects the internal layers from damage.
The coaxial cable carries data from the central copper conductor. The shielding and insulation surrounding the cable prevent signal loss, also known as attenuation loss. It also helps reduce electromagnetic interference (EMI).
RG59/U has a copper center conductor. It’s suitable for basic analog to digital TV antenna signals in residential applications. It’s ideal for basic CCTV systems that require short cable runs. It should be terminated using F-Type connectors.
RG6/U Quad-shield is the minimum requirement under the latest Standard for digital TV antenna cabling and for all TV antenna cabling for apartments/units (MATV). It is also used for the distribution of Cable TV (CATV) and Satellite TV (SATV) in residential or commercial premises. It is made of copper-clad-steel as the inner conductor. There are three types of RG6/U: single-shield and dual-shield. However, they do not provide sufficient EMI shielding.
Check out the video below on how to fix your TV antenna connector.
Best Digital TV antenna
The Five Star Outdoor Digital Amplified HDTV Antenna is considered one of the best digital TV aerials around for us here in America.
The antenna has a range of 200 miles and can provide high-resolution HDTV4K, 1080p. This can be used for local news, weather, and sports programming.
The operating frequency is VHF 40- 230MHz and UHF 470 – 860MHz so it’s perfect.
It has an integrated auto gain control chip and gain booster that can increase the signal gain by 15 to 35db. With the 4-way splitter, this antenna can support 4 TVs. This antenna can be used to receive multiple TVs at once.
You can use the remote control and internal motor to control the device so it is at the right angle for best reception. This is a great safety feature. It is only necessary to activate the feature once.
Package Includes Five Star Antenna, Installation Kit (40ft Coax Cable, 4-way Splitter to watch 4 TVs, 15pcs Cable Clips), J Pole.
If your TV antenna is over 20 years old it is best to replace it with a new HDTV antenna. This will ensure perfect reception.
Frequently Asked Questions on Antennas
What causes bad TV reception?
There can be a number of reasons for bad TV reception but the most common are:
- Corroded wiring.
- Bad alignment of antennas.
- Interfearance with the electrical system.
- Birds nesting at the antenna.
- Faulty Matching Transformer also know as an Antenna Balun.
- Broken cable.
- Rats and birds chewing on the RG6 cables
- Water ingress.
- Bad weather.
- Blockage of the antenna by trees or buildings.
- The F-type fitting is lost or corroded.
- Angle and direction of the TV antenna.
Why won’t my TV find any channels?
There are a couple of reasons but if it is a new TV check that the TV scanner is set to an antenna scanning and not cable channel scanning. You won’t pick up free-to-air HD TV channels if you are set to cable.
Another reason could be a weak or non-existent digital signal from your antenna. A dirty connection, broken wire or faulty balun could be the cause. Before inspecting and cleaning your antenna’s electrical connections, ensure that it is connected to the television.
This is often the number 1 reason why won’t my TV antenna pick up any channels.
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You may need to rescan the TV if you are moving to a different town or state to pick up new TV channels.
Why is my TV tuner not working?
Your TV tuner will need a good signal from a digital antenna to scan channels. If there is no signal it often won’t even try to scan any channels.
To find the problem, check your antenna cables, alignment, and connections. Also, check that the TV is not set to cable scanning. It needs to be set on an Antenna scanner.
Problems with digital tv reception today
If you are having problems with your digital TV reception today then check what the weather is like outside. If you have bad TV reception only when it rains you could have moisture getting into the Balun or between the electrical contacts.
If your antenna balun has been in use for more than 10 years, you should clean it and replace it.
Realign the antenna if it has moved to see if reception improves otherwise you may need a new digital TV antenna if it is very old.
How do you get a broken antenna?
Outdoor TV antennas can break for a number of reasons such as:
- Brittle insulation points.
- Large birds sitting on the antenna
- Rusted connections
- Hail damage
- Lightning strike
- Wind damage
- Rats or birds chewing on the cables.
- Corrosion of electrical cable terminals.
If you experience poor reception, it is necessary to inspect the antenna outside.
Often when a TV antenna is installed the electrical balun is not secured properly. This causes the balun to move in wind and eventually breaks. This antenna’s balun (matching Transformer) isn’t properly secured and has now failed.
How to make a TV antenna work better
Point the TV antenna directly at the TV transmitter station. This will indicate direction and elevation. Check that all connections are free from corrosion and clean. Check the balun and matching transformer. They should be clean, new, and free from moisture. If your antenna is missing a balun then add one to make your TV antenna work better.
Use a quality coaxial RG6 cable for the whole length of the antenna to the TV. This will reduce interference and improve the TV signal. An antenna for older houses might be a simple, unshielded twin-cable. Replace this as soon as possible to receive a good high definition TV signal.
Where to point a TV antenna?
Depending on where you line in the world you will need to point your TV antenna to the closest TV station transmitter. You can find this DTV reception map in America. To find the location of your nearest transmitter, simply enter your zip code or address.
Sometimes stations change the frequency of the TV signal so you may need to rescan your TV channels every few years.
Learning how to fix a broken tv antenna is easy if you just remember the 3 main parts that fail. The balun, cable, and antenna connections are the most important parts. Don’t spend hundreds of dollars getting a TV antenna repairman out to fix your reception. Do it yourself.
If you are a handyman why not make the ultimate homemade TV antenna. There are four plans available and they are all easy.
It is important to be safe when working at heights and to wear a harness. Many have been hurt by falling off ladders while fixing broken television antennas. I’d love to hear from you in the comments.