What can you do if you live in a cinder block house?

Cinder blocks. They’re not just for prisons. Believe it or not there are a lot of homes that are made of cinder block — it was a common building material in the mid-20th century especially in the south. Industrial buildings are made of the stuff too. If you’re in a cinder block building you may find yourself with problems if you try to install an indoor antenna. Even if it works for your neighbors in non-cinder-block homes, it may not work for you. And sometimes, you’ll get such bad cell service that you end up wanting to tear your hair out.

Why is this a problem?

The first and most obvious thing about cinder blocks is that they are thick and dense. Radio waves do a better job of going through solid objects than visible light does. However, as radio waves pass through, they get weaker and weaker. Asking them to go through two solid layers of cement is a tall order.

Old cinder blocks are sometimes strengthened with iron oxide or other metal oxides to give them strength. This basically kills TV reception. It’s not doing a great job for cellular reception either, as you’ve no doubt noticed. Either way, you’re going to need an outdoor antenna and that means you’re going to need to find a way to get those wires inside.

How to feed wires inside

Most of us are pretty much afraid of drilling through cinder blocks because let’s be honest, it is kind of a dicey proposition. Get yourself a good masonry bit and then drill slowly and carefully. When you have a good hole, feed the cable in and then seal the outer edges of the hole with a cable bushing and some construction adhesive. If you’re careful everything will look great.

You may choose to drill through the mortar instead of the blocks themselves. This is fine, although it will take longer to do because you’re drilling through a solid layer rather than two thinner layers.

Most of us aren’t that bold, though, and we’re much more comfortable with finding a place we can drill into that’s made of wood or something else that’s easier to patch and less likely to shred. You might need to run the cable a little longer to get to someplace on the home like that, but a little extra cable isn’t going to hurt.

Another option

You can use a flat cable like this one to avoid drilling altogether. This cable is so thin that it can fit in the gap between the window and frame, even with the window closed. If you have old aluminum frame windows, this is an easy fix. For those with newer vinyl windows it’s a tight fit but still usually works.

Need more advice?

Solid Signal’s techs can help you find a way to get the reception you need. Whether it’s a TV antenna or a cellular signal booster system, our team is here to get you up and running! Call us at 888-233-7563 during East Coast business hours! If it’s after hours, fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you, usually within one business day.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.