Troubleshooting Your TV Antenna

by | Last updated Oct 15, 2022

Having problems getting your TV to receive digital broadcast stations using your antenna? You’ve come to the right place. Find solutions to your antenna problems below.

My TV isn’t doing anything when I hook up the antenna

  • Are you sure your TV is capable of receiving digital TV signals? (Is it a digital TV and was it made after 2006? If not, you’ll need a converter box).
  • Did you change your TV mode to “ANT” or “Antenna”?
  • Did you set up your TV to scan for digital channels?
  • Try powering off your TV, then powering back on. If that doesn’t work, do a factory reset. You will need to go through your TV’s settings menus to find where to do that.

My TV is not finding any channels when I do a scan

  • Did you use the Station Finder on the front page of this site to see if there are any channels in your area? If you have at least five green channels, it is worth trying to get broadcast digital channels.
  • Did you securely attach the antenna cable? (It has a collar that has to be screwed in.)
  • The most fragile part of many antennas like the Mohu Leaf is the cheap cable it comes with. Check for kinks, twists, or sharp bends in the cable which might have broken it. If you have an Ohm meter, check to make sure the cable is still good. If your cable is an RG59 cable (like the one that comes with the Leaf), I recommend replacing it with RG6 cable. See links on this page.

I’ve lost a channel that I used to get or I lose channels at certain times of day

This could be caused by a variety of reasons. See this article for some possibilities:

There is static in the picture

If you are seeing snow or static type of interference, it’s probably not a digital signal.  That’s probably an analog signal.  When you are getting a weak digital signal, the distortion looks blocky and the picture and sound will cut in and out.  There is no snow or static.  Go to the previous item and make sure there are digital channels in your area.


I am having trouble getting all of the available channels in any one antenna orientation

Getting good reception for all channels is like playing “whack-a-mole”.  When you adjust your antenna to get good reception for one channel, you lose another channel. Here are the steps I use to get the best reception.

Mohu Leaf antenna in window
Mohu Leaf antenna in window
  1. Start by setting up your antenna in or near a window as a starting point. You can just tape it up for now, because you’ll probably need to move it. See photo above.
  2. Now put your TV in scan mode and go do something else for 30 minutes (or you can stay and watch the progress). When it’s done, step through all of the channels using your remote, and write down all of the channels it found.
  3. Pick a channel that is coming in intermittently and adjust the antenna until it comes in consistently. Re-check your other channels to make sure they are still OK. Then do a re-scan to see if you TV can find more channels. If so, record them.
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 a few times (until you don’t get any new channels). At the end, you should have a master list of all available channels in your location.
  5. Now go to your TV’s setup menu and manually add any channels you got before that are missing from the latest scan, so that your TV now has all available channels (even though not all of them are being received solidly). Do not do anymore re-scans after this, because that will blow away all of the channels you just entered.
  6. Here is where the fun begins. Based on your previous experience and further experimentation, place the antenna where you seem to get the most channels. This is somewhat of a magical, mysterious process. I can’t give much help other than to say the best locations are usually around the perimter of your house (i.e., outwardly-facing walls). Sometimes leaning your antenna against a wall or window is best. Sometimes hanging it is best. Heck, right now, my best reception is with the antenna facing down on the floor, which is totally unexpected! Try a bunch of locations and go through all of the channels until you find a location that gets you the most.
  7. Let’s say you’re through and you have a few channels that you just can’t get in your current orientation. Leave those channels in your TV. Don’t erase them. Often atmospheric conditions will change and you might be able to get those channels later. Also, TV stations can increase power so that really does happen from time to time. I’d say, every 3 to 6 months I see some change in my stations. Just recently, two PBS stations that seemed dead magically started coming in, probably due to some change at the transmitter.

If you’re interested in my final antenna setup, check out this article.

For more tips on how to get the best reception and most channels with your antenna, check out my blog article, Top Tips for Better Reception with Your Indoor Antenna.


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Brian Shim, DisableMyCable.com

I'm an electrical engineer (BSEE Caltech) with twenty years of experience designing industrial and consumer products, and now a web developer who loves to share ways to save money on TV content, Internet access, and cell phone plans! Read more about me here.

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Lisa
Lisa
8 months ago

I have tried two different antennas on two different TVs (two different brands) in my apartment. Put the antennas in every imaginable spot. No luck on either TV in the channel scan with either kind of digital antenna. Then I thought maybe it was the TVs, so I got an external digital tuner and that channel scan (on both TVs) also didn’t find anything with either antenna. I’ve also tried unplugging, replugging.

I live in NYC (Manhattan to be specific) so there’s just no way there aren’t channels. Is it possible being on a very low floor and surrounded by buildings means it just can’t be done with an indoor antenna? Any troubleshooting suggestions would be much appreciated!

Ronald Bookwalter
Ronald Bookwalter
9 months ago

I have been using a digital antennae for several months feeding two Samsung TVs. Recently, the one TV has a weak signal in the evening on one channel and all of the sub channels of that channel. However, the other TV is not showing any pixelization on the same channels at the same time. All of the other channels seem to be fine on the first TV – just the one. Since both TVs feed from the same antenna, I can’t understand why the reception is fine on one TV and not the other at the same time of day.

WillyPee
WillyPee
1 year ago

The red light on my WA-2608 antenna unit isn’t lit. What could possibly be wrong?

D Z
D Z
1 year ago

Strange problem!! I’ve had a 2022 Samsung 60″ for 3 months receiving numerous antenna channels perfectly, with most all having a ‘dash’ number after the ‘parent’ number; 4-1, 4-2, 4-3, etc. As of yesterday, the picture is there on these dash channels, but the sound is from the ‘parent’ channel. That is, 4-3 has the correct picture, but has the sound of 4-1 !!
What is going on and how do I fix it??

Toni Berry
Toni Berry
2 years ago

I need help with my antenna tv.. Channel 18-4 does not work right.. There mouths and words does not go together.. It’s aggravating.. Please help me

Greg
Greg
2 years ago

LG-OLED smart TV has been fine for over a year. Just turned it on to No Signal (antenna via coax). TV lists all the channels but seems to have lost the ability to receive the antenna signal. 2 Other TV’s on same antenna work fine.

Susan
Susan
2 years ago

Hi Len,

I just set up a Terk antenna. I wish I had read your tips before doing so. I got some channels, but not all. So I moved it and rescanned it. Moved it again, rescanned it again. Then…lost the picture. I have audio, but no picture for any channel. I have unplugged the antenna power and the antenna itself. I set the TV to set up for the first time and find all the channels again – no picture. Just sound. I can change channels and hear the programs so they are working.

My TV is working fine because I can go back to my Roku and have a perfect picture.

Any thoughts? I would appreciate any help you can give.

Thank you,
Susan

Susan
Susan
2 years ago
Reply to  Brian Shim

Thank you, Brian! So sorry I used the wrong name, I was in a state last night and so frustrated, please forgive me.

I couldn’t find the factory reboot, but I unplugged it and that did the trick.

Sorry, I should have thought of it. Thank you so much!! Such a simple solution.

I have all my channels except one (I’m in SoCal) but I can live with it. Thanks again!

len
len
2 years ago

i have a smart tv i do have ota channels scanned in my tv and have an antenna, but i cannot access them

Len Carrier
Len Carrier
2 years ago
Reply to  Brian Shim

Visio I have the ota channels but cant seem to get them to display to watch, is it something I’m doing wrong with my remote?

len
len
2 years ago
Reply to  Brian Shim

Brian,

the Vizio model is D40f-j09

I did an auto scan and have 11 ota channels that i’ve scanned but how do I watch them, I dont see a place on the tv screen that shows them. Do I just use the remote to channel them?

len
len
2 years ago
Reply to  len

where will these channels populate so i can watch

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