Ask LH: Why Does My TV Reception Suck At Certain Times Of The Day?

Dear Lifehacker, My digital TV signal works fine most of the time. However, it conks out between 8am and 5pm during particular months of the year. What gives? Thanks, Tuned Out

Annoyed at TV picture from Shutterstock

Dear TO,

We often receive questions about dodgy TV reception at Lifehacker. The issue is usually isolated to a particular channel (in which case the digital “cliff effect” could be to blame) or certain times of morning and/or night (which is attributable to tropospheric propagation and certain types of LED lights.) However, the fact you’re not receiving a TV signal during business hours and on certain months of the year suggests something else is afoot.

The most likely explanation is that you’re getting interference from an outside energy source: check the streetlights near your home to see if any are failing to switch off during the day. These are known as “dayburners” and are known to output radio interference due to constantly switching on and off at high frequencies. If you notice something iffy about your streetlights, you can report the issue to the Ausgrid website. Mind you, this doesn’t adequately explain why the issue only occurs during certain months of the year.

Do the bad months happen to coincide with spring and summer? According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), thermostat-controlled pool chlorinators and electric swimming pool pumps can both cause interference to TV reception. So the culprit could be a neighbour’s swimming pool.

There’s also a remote possibility that your TV equipment might be to blame. This is unlikely but worth eliminating all the same. Start by checking the coaxial cable connecting your TV to the antenna: is it old, frayed or tangled? If so, a replacement might be in order. It also can’t hurt to experiment with light switches in your house — as mentioned above, some LED downlights are known to interfere with TV signals.

If all else fails, get a technician to take a look at your roof antenna, especially if it’s never been repaired/replaced before. You can find some additional tips in Digital Ready’s guide to tackling poor reception.

If any readers have any additional theories or have been in a similar situation themselves, please let TO know in the comments section below.


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