Using the best TV antenna for your needs to get free HDTV over the air is one of the best things you can do to replace cable TV as a cord cutter. But what happens when you plug your antenna in and find nothing but static, shaky picture, or low-quality audio? Don’t freak out just yet, because the problem can be easy to fix. Here’s how to get clear TV antenna reception in your home.
How to Get Clear TV Antenna Reception: 3 Common Problems
When you’re not getting the reception you should be, you’re going to want to ask yourself a few simple questions. A lot of things can cause poor reception, from settings on your TV to the position of the antenna. Usually, one of three things is happening: you forgot to scan for channels, your antenna is poorly positioned, or you just don’t have the right antenna. Thankfully, most of these problems are easy to fix. We have the solutions below, including a few key tips on antenna positioning.
Did you scan for channels?
Setting up your antenna is incredibly easy, but it’s not quite as easy as just plugging the antenna in and forgetting it. There’s one more step between connecting your antenna and watching free TV, and that’s scanning for channels.
Scanning for channels is done through your TV’s menu system, so it will be a bit different depending on what type of TV you have. Use your TV remote and look through the menu for a “scan” feature. Usually, you’ll see a progress bar and a channel count as the scan is performed.
You can check your TV’s user guide for more information, but it’s usually not too hard to track down the scanning feature.
Where is your antenna?: Some antenna positioning tips
Depending on where your antenna is, you may see a difference in the number and quality of channels you pick up. Here are some key tips for getting clear TV antenna reception:
- Get some altitude! For indoor antennas, place them high on the walls or windows. For outdoor antennas, try the roof – the peak is better than the side.
- Aim for the signal! For directional antennas, of course, this is a must. But even omnidirectional antennas, like common indoor antennas, may benefit if you pay attention to where the nearest TV stations are. Maybe you can sneak the antenna around a corner to get it closer to the signal source.
- Look for obstructions! Sometimes, this may be beyond your power – if you’re on the first floor in New York City, there’s not much you can do. But for smaller obstructions – from the neighbor’s house blocking your outdoor antenna to your own fridge boxing out your indoor antenna – a little repositioning could help.
- Play the warmer/colder game. It’s not all about calculating the right spot – sometimes you just need a little hands-on experimenting. After scanning for channels, try moving the antenna around a bit while watching the screen (or have a friend or family member watch if you can’t see from your position). Try to find a spot where the picture is clearest for the most possible channels. Because some factors are hard to detect and predict (something metal in your wall that you can’t see, for instance), this simple solution is sometimes the best way to find the right place for your antenna.
Do you have the right antenna?
Double-check out guide to getting the best TV antenna for your needs. Did you purchase a strong enough antenna? If not, consider upgrading or investing in a TV antenna amplifier. Everything you need to know is in our handy guide.
Still having trouble?
If nothing else helps, you may be one of the unlucky few who can’t benefit from a TV antenna. Check with your antenna’s manufacturer to see if you’re eligible for a refund, and consider other methods for watching live TV without cable.
If you can’t use an antenna, you can still get local channels. You’ll want to turn to a skinny bundle like DIRECTV NOW. While skinny bundles aren’t free, they do offer live TV and (in some regions) live local feeds of major networks like ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC.
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