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Television interference

 

What can I do about my television reception problems?

Check your equipment

Disconnect all your receiving and recording equipment from the 230V mains at the wall socket, except for your television receiver. Plug your aerial cable directly into your television receiver so it is connected to the aerial system and not connected to or through any other equipment.

If the interference is still on your television try an alternative television. Make sure the original television is turned off at the wall socket.

If the same interference is still present it is likely that the interference is created in your (or combination of):

  • aerial
  • aerial feeder system
  • external to the aerial system.

If it is not present then it is likely to be created within the original television and it is suggested that the television be serviced or replaced.

 

Check your aerial system

Indoor aerials do not work as effectively as outdoor aerials. The best reception is usually obtained with an outdoor aerial.

Make sure the outdoor antenna is pointing in the right direction. If you are not familiar with the aerial type and how it should be oriented it is recommended that you enlist the services of an aerial specialist.

Check the aerial is in good working order as it may be damaged by corrosion, have loose bolts, broken or loose elements, broken feeder, or other fault. A visual inspection will often show these faults. Aerials fitted in coastal areas are especially susceptible to corrosion. If damage is noticed repair the aerial or have the aerial replaced.

Check your aerial to the television feeder cable as it may be water damaged and will partially fill with water in some situations. Aerial baluns are, internally, particularly susceptible to corrosion.

Check any joints or splitters in the feeder system for faulty connections or faulty splitters. If splitters are suspected remove them and reconnect the coaxial cable so the aerial is directly connected to the television receiver.

If the aerial and feeder system are repaired or seen to be in good condition then it is likely that the interference is being received by the aerial. If in doubt enlist the services of an aerial specialist.

The interference will be either generated in your premises or external to your premises.

 

How do I fix a weak signal

Check your aerial and aerial feeder system for any signs of corrosion or water damage.

Ensure the antenna is mounted correctly and pointing towards the transmitter. Use stand-offs for vertical aerials to avoid losses created by the mounting pole. Where the signal level is being reduced by an obstruction, it may be possible to find a new location for the aerial where the signals are not blocked.

Often, a higher performance aerial will help overcome problems caused by low signal strengths. Sometimes, a mast-head amplifier may be necessary, to overcome cable losses. In this situation, use the lowest gain amplifier needed, to avoid system overload. Note that interference that is present at the aerial will be amplified along with the wanted signal.

Check the cable and all connections from your aerial to the television receiver including any splitters in the system. Improperly connected cables and splitters create loss. Remove splitters and connect the cable directly from the aerial to the television receiver.

Video recorders, DVD recorders, and satellite/terrestrial decoders if used in the loop configuration (as they normally are) all add a measure noise to the system. Remove them and feed the aerial cable directly into the television receiver.

Each television station is designed to service a particular geographic region. This is called a coverage area, within which there should be sufficient signal strength to override the background (ambient) level of radio frequency noise. Specialised engineering may be required to cure interference to the reception of distant broadcast stations that are not intended to cover your location.

If there is no improvement, contact a service technician or aerial specialist for further assistance.

 

What can I do about multi-path interference?

Multi-path (aka as ghosting) happens when part of the signal comes directly from the transmitter, while another part has been reflected from a hill, a building or some other large object in the locality. The reflecting obstacle can be located in any direction from the antenna.

Better reception can sometimes be obtained by altering the alignment of the aerial. This will require someone to watch the television receiver signal quality/strength screen whilst the aerial is slowly pointed from side to side, up or down, or twisted. Shifting the aerial up and down the antenna pole will often clear this type of problem (down is often better due to the secondary reflection off an iron roof).

If that is unsuccessful, it is usually possible to find another position for the aerial which results in better reception. There are aerial configurations that null unwanted signals. Talk to your aerial specialist for information on these.

 

What can I do about electrical interference?

Television interference can often be caused by domestic electrical appliances, either in your own home or in that of a near neighbour.

The interference often occurs only when such an appliance is in use, so noting the times when interference occurs will help you with its identification. Note that many appliances have a standby mode and while they appear to be off are in fact still operating.

Check for potential sources in your own home. This can be done by turning off all electrical products in the house, one by one (while the interference is occurring), until you find one that stops the interference. Note that some products when turned off may still be partially operating so turn them off using the 230V mains wall connection. Some products use batteries as a backup when the mains supply is disconnected e.g. alarm systems. In this case you will likely have to gain assistance from the applicable electrical service firm.

Ask your neighbours if they had the same problem. If they do, interference is the likely cause. However, be sure that they get exactly the same problem at the same time on the same station, or their answer may be misleading.

If you are unable to identify or locate the source of the interference, contact your local service technician in the first instance.

Last updated 2 December 2014