How do I get better reception?

Posted November 10, 2015 - Aerials and Reception

From time to time you may experience issues with your TV reception, like a blocky/pixelated picture or missing channels. In a lot of cases these will be temporary problems or have a simple remedy.  On some occasions you may need some outside help: we recommend that maintenance on rooftop aerials is carried out by professionals. But most problems can be easily fixed. Here are a few tips to help you improve your reception:

Aerials and cables

Make sure your aerial is secure and in good condition. You should also check your external cabling and plugs/sockets along with any cables connecting your TV and recorder.

Bad reception can occur if your external aerial is out of position and no longer pointing directly at the correct transmitter. Over a period of time, bad weather can damage your aerial.

Find out more about water damage>

Amplifiers and splitters

If you bought an aerial amplifier before switchover because of a weak signal or reception problems, there’s a good chance you don’t need it anymore.  Aerial amplifiers and splitters are a common cause of reception difficulty and can actually overload equipment. Try removing and see if this improves the situation.

Transmitters and signal overlaps

Depending on where you live, you may be able to receive signals from more than one TV transmitter. For example, you might get the wrong regional news. This may come about because the equipment automatically tunes to a weaker rather than stronger signal. For better reception, Digital UK has information on how to manually retune your TV or recorder to the correct transmitter for your address.

In some cases, aerials aren’t aligned to the best transmitter. Your aerial might be pointed at a large main transmitter but receive a much better signal from a smaller one that’s local. Get in touch with a local aerial installer to redirect your aerial and improve reception.

Weather

Some weather conditions like high pressure, which is associated with fine weather (and morning fog) can affect your reception. However, interference caused by atmospheric conditions is temporary and should clear once the weather changes.

Engineering works

Occasionally, routine engineering work is required on transmitters in order to improve terrestrial TV services. While every effort is made to minimise the impact on viewers, this can cause temporary disruption to reception. Check to see if there is planned engineering at your local transmitter.

In-home interference

Some home appliances can disrupt your reception. This happens because of power fluctuations at the mains. Try switching off other devices around the home and see if this fixes the problem. Common culprits include fridges, washing machines and tumble dryers, fluorescent lighting systems, lawnmowers, central heating systems and water pumps.

To prevent interference, fit a mains filter to your TV equipment and keep your aerial and cables away from other electrical cables. Try moving devices like mobiles, cordless phones and baby monitors away from your TV.

Local external interference

Traffic, road works and radios used by the police or taxis can interfere with your reception. Prevent this by fitting a filter to your aerial and ensuring all cables are in good condition.

Obstructions

Trees, tall buildings and even hills can block signals from your transmitter to your home. If this occurs, get in touch with a local aerial installer – who should be able to advise on possible solutions, like redirecting your aerial to an alternative transmitter.

Diagram showing local external interference to the Freeview reception

4G interference

4G mobile broadband services operating in the 800MHz band can interfere with TV signals in some areas. Usually this can be resolved by fitting a simple filter between your aerial cable and your TV. A company called at800 has been established by mobile phone operators to help resolve these reception issues for viewers.

Diagram showing filter between your aerial cable and TV

My reception is fine but I’m missing channels

Channels on Freeview can change from time to time – some may be removed, others added and channel numbers can change. Try retuning your TV equipment once in a while to make sure you have the latest channel line-up for your area.

More help

If you need more advice about Freeview reception and coverage try calling the Freeview Advice Line on 03456 505050.

Advice on TV interference is available from the Radio and Television Investigation Service, which is managed by the BBC.

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