What does “771-Searching for Signal” mean?

Are you getting a message that says “771-Signal Loss” on your DIRECTV receiver? This means the receiver isn’t getting any information from the sky, and there are some easy things to check before you worry about calling for service or going up on the roof.

Is something disconnected?
This is the easiest thing to check. Did the power inserter get unplugged? Did a satellite cable get disconnected? The entire system must be fully connected in order for things to work right. In some cases even removing a single terminator can cause problems. Make sure things look good before worrying.

Should you reboot?
Usually a reboot isn’t going to fix this kind of error, but on the other hand it can’t hurt.

Did a cable get cut?
If you get this error after a little bit of home remodeling, it’s possible. It’s also possible that if lines run through your garage, they’ve gotten banged up enough times that it’s an issue.

Are there issues with trees or something else in the dish’s path?
This is actually the most common cause of this error, especially if it happens at the same time every day and goes away. Satellite signals do a very poor job of traveling through trees so if the dish is pointed near trees this could be the issue. You need to look to the left and right, not just straight ahead, because in some cases the dish needs to see a 20 degree area of the sky, roughly equivalent to 1/8 of the entire area you can see by looking ahead.

Corroded cable or something on the dish?
If you’ve exhausted all the possibilities for problems in the home you probably are going to find yourself on the roof. Inspect all the cables to make sure they are tight and that there is no sign of corrosion or damage from water. Sometimes it’s something really weird like, and I’ve seen this, a bird building a nest inside the dish.

…and if you’re still getting the problem…
…you’re going to have to face up to the idea that there’s something wrong with the dish. It could need re-aiming, or parts could need replacing. Replacing the LNB (the front part of the dish) is easy enough, one comes out and another goes in, but if the dish needs aiming, not everyone is ready for that. It might be time to call in reinforcements.

While this error generally means that you won’t be able to watch TV until it’s fixed, it’s still not the end of the world and using the steps above, you might be able to fix it without even going up on the roof.