Troubleshooting Your TV Antenna
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?
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 reason. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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If you have a question about this article, leave a comment below. I personally read and answer each one. If you want advice on TV reception, leave your zip code. I'd also love to hear how you're saving money on TV. Tell me your story! - Brian