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. But they may need some tender loving care every few years to make sure the antenna and cables are in tip-top condition.
In this post, we are going to look at how to fix TV antenna connectors, wiring, and something called a balun. This is so you can have perfect reception in this digital world. As well I will show you how to service your TV antenna yourself.
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. In the good old analog days, you would set a static or snowy picture but not with digital. Your TV reception just won’t work.
Table of Contents
- 1 What are the main parts of a TV antenna?
- 2 How to fix the TV antenna connector?
- 3 How to fix a broken antenna cable
- 4 Best Digital TV antenna
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions on Antennas
- 6 How to make a TV antenna work better
- 7 Where to point a TV antenna?
- 8 Conclusion
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 known 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. This electrical transformer connects between a balanced signal (antenna) and an unbalanced signal (coaxial cable). This is the part that often fails, water tends to get into it.
The coaxial cables will often be a RG6 cable that goes from the antenna to the wall near the TV. These will be terminated at either end via 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 the 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. ladder, knife, electrical tape, hammer, and cable clamps. Some electrical spray is recommended to keep the connectors from corroding. You may want to also get yourself a balun and some F-type connectors. We will talk more about these further in the article.
If the RG6 coaxial cable has come apart you can often just screw it back into place. I like to place a little bit of dielectric grease on the screw threads to make them more waterproof and stop corrosion.
Now if you are using an RG6 crimp fitting then stripping back the coaxial cable will be different. The diagram below shows the different areas to strip back and the lengths.
How to fix a broken antenna cable
Most modern-day antenna cables are 6-7mm in size. These cables are called coaxial cables and the types for video applications are RG59/U, RG6/U, and RG11/U. They are often terminated with an F Type connector.
RG-6 is used to refer to coaxial cables with an 18 AWG (1.024 mm) center conductor and has 75-ohm impedance. 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. Clean the contacts with some fine sandpaper and re-tighten them. Secure all cables with cable ties or clamps and make sure the balun is not hanging in the wind. It will also need to be tied 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 cheap and easy to use. They don’t require any special tools like a crimper.
Coaxial cables explained
Coaxial cables are mainly built up of these four different layers:
- A center 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 that protects the internal layers from damage.
The coaxial cable works by carrying data from the aerial in the center copper conductor. The surrounding layers of shielding and insulation stop any signal loss (also known as attenuation loss) and help 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 is perfect for basic CCTV systems over short cable runs. It should be terminated with 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 features a copper-clad steel inner conductor. Single-shield, dual-shield, and tri-shield versions of RG6/U are available but do not provide adequate 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.
It has a signal reach of up to 200-mile range and provides high-resolution HDTV 4K, 1080p. This is for local free-to-air channels, local news, sports programs, and weather.
The operating frequency is VHF 40- 230MHz and UHF 470 – 860MHz so it’s perfect.
I like that it has a built-in auto gain control chip with a gain booster which can make a high gain from 15-35db to improve the signal. This antenna can support up to 4 TVs with the included 4-way splitter. It is the best way to get reception to multiple TVs in your home.
It has an internal motor and remote control so you can control it to get the perfect angle for the best signal while not on the roof. This is a great safety feature. But you really only need to use it once to set the antenna up.
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. You will get 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 the antenna.
- Electrical interference.
- Birds nest on the antenna.
- Faulty Matching Transformer also know as an Antenna Balun.
- Broken cable.
- Birds or rats chewing on the RG6 cable.
- Water ingress.
- Bad weather.
- Buildings or trees in the way of the antenna blocking the signal.
- F-type fitting loose 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 is because of a weak or no digital signal from the antenna. You could have a dirty connection, a broken wire, or a faulty balun. Make sure the antenna cable is connected to the Tv before inspecting and cleaning the electrical connections on your antenna.
This is often the number 1 reason why won’t my TV antenna pick up any channels.
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.
Check your antenna cables, connections, and alignment to work out where the problem is at. 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.
Clean the contacts and replace the antenna balun if it is over 10 years old.
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 the electrical cable terminals.
You will need to do a visual inspection of the outdoor antenna if you have poor reception.
Often when a TV antenna is installed the electrical balun is not secured properly. This causes it to move in the wind and the wires eventually break. As you can see in the picture above this antenna has a balun (matching transformer) that is not secured and has failed.
How to make a TV antenna work better
Point the TV antenna directly at the TV transmitter station. This will include direction and elevation. Make sure all connections are clean and free of corrosion. Also, check the balun or matching transformer, this should be new, clean, and free of 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. Old houses may have a simple unshielded twin cable for the antenna. 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. In USA America, you can check out this DTV reception map. Just input your address or zip code to find the direction of your nearest transmitter.
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 antenna connections, the cable, and the balun. 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 4 different plans to choose from and they are easy.
Remember when working at heights to take care and use a harness. Many people have been hurt from falling off a ladder while fixing a broken tv antenna. If you have any further questions just let me know in the comments below.
I am a qualified Industrial Electrician for the past 20 years and I love to share my knowledge on home repair and maintenance jobs.
I love fast toys like Motorcycles, Cars, Jetskis, Boats, and Computers so writing about them is easy. Working on them is fun.
To keeps costs down I do all my own mods, repairs, and servicing. These skills I want to share with everyone. DIY is a skill everyone can learn.