Autumn leaves are turning — get your dish ready for winter

It’s finally the first day of autumn, and it’s no fun to think that snowy days are coming again. Still, it’s the best time to check out all your outdoor technology before it’s too cold to go outside.

This year, pay close attention to insect damage and oxidation of your cables. Just being out in the sun can make cable sheaths dry and cracked, and expose the delicate wires inside. Remember those drip loops you were going to put in, back in the spring? Chances are you forgot, so take a look at any connectors where water may have gathered to see if they’ve become oxidized.

Insects are a big part of summer and even the harmless ones can do damage to your delicate electronics. Some insects have been known to build nests in the nooks and crannies of a satellite dish, and otherwise harmless ones can secrete acids that can eat through cables if they aren’t tended to.

Where there are insects, there are birds, and the combination of a high perch and those ants marching one by one (hurrah, hurrah) may prove irresistible to feathered flying fowl. Take a look at your antenna for signs that the elements have bent from weight and clean up any droppings that have accumulated on the dish or antenna. It’s no fun but someone has to do it.

If you have a dish heater, now is the time to test it to make sure it’s working. Because of the amount of electricity needed, it’s even more important to inspect the dish heater cable for any signs of wear. The roof is the last place you want to be on an icy winter day.

Of course, you’ll have to plan your maintenance time carefully, with college football on Saturday, NFL on Sunday, postseason baseball, preseason hockey and basketball all floating your way, but a little time spent in October will save you a lot of suffering in February.