Aerials & downleads
Getting the best signal is key to good TV reception. Very many of the problems reported by viewers turn out to be related to their aerial system or satellite installation.
Set-top aerials are not recommended as they rarely give good results. See this page for more information. If you are using a communal (shared) aerial system, please visit this page before taking any action.
Here are top tips for a good TV aerial installation.
- Use a good quality, branded wideband aerial. A benchmarked aerial will carry a guarantee of quality both of performance and construction.
- Ensure it is correctly aligned, has the right polarisation (elements vertical or horizontal) and is mounted securely.
- Choose an aerial which includes a balun matching device if you are near a main road – it could reduce pick-up of interference from passing traffic.
- Mount the aerial outdoors, as high as possible – the TV network in the UK is designed to be received on outdoor aerials. Loft aerials only work well if signals are strong and the loft is free of clutter. Certain roofing materials can render loft aerials far less effective, and more susceptible to some kinds of interference. Wet tiles can worsen matters further. Indoor aerials rarely work well unless you have clear line-of-sight to the transmitter.
- Keep it well clear of other aerials and metalwork – at least 75 cm.
- Avoid pointing into nearby trees.
- Use the best cable you can for the downlead (eg. satellite-grade double-screened co-axial cable), secure it to the pole and route it into the home so it doesn’t flap about in the breeze. Avoid sharp bends around corners and under tiles etc, and keep it as short as is practical. CAI* benchmarked cables will carry a guarantee of quality.
If your reception has deteriorated recently, check the following:
- If your aerial appears damaged or bent, replace it.
- If it seems to have moved but is otherwise undamaged, have it re-aligned and secured.
- If your downlead looks cracked, feels damp or is going green inside the plug, replace it.
- If your aerial is more than 10 years old, its performance may have diminished due to corrosion. This is especially true in coastal locations, where the effective life of an aerial may be less than 10 years. Consider replacing it, and the downlead, at the same time.
Step by step guide to check for water ingress:
1. Unplug the coaxial cable from any outlets or ports into which it is connected.
2. Remove the connectors from the ends of the coaxial cable. This is the most likely place for moisture to build up.
3. Examine the tip of the cable - where you just removed the connector - for signs of water damage, such as corrosion.
4. Look at the entire length of cable for any signs of weakening along the insulated outer layer. Search for cracks or tears to the insulation where moisture may have seeped through to the copper conductor.
5. Once the cable has water damage, it can no longer carry the signal effectively and should be removed.
6. Consult a reliable aerial contractor, and have it replaced.
Satellite dishes can move if they are not securely fixed, and can be damaged by wind and debris in exposed locations. Loose cables can move about and eventually break.
*For help with aerials and dishes we would recommend using a professional installer. We cannot recommend individual installers but you may wish to seek advice from a recognised industry body, such as the Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI). Alternatively visit the Website of Registered Digital Installers (RDI) http://www.getmedigital.com/ Get Me Digital is the consumer site of the RDI, created to promote digital installation and digital service providers directly to the consumer.
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