Can an LNB “just go bad?”

You bet it can.

If you’re watching TV and all of a sudden you lose satellite signal, it’s probably not a broken LNB. Chances are, it’s a corroded cable, bad aim, a tree in the dish’s path, or something like that. But if you’ve eliminated all the other possibilities, it absolutely can be a bad LNB.

An LNB is a fairly complex and sensitive piece of equipment. It combines a super-low-noise amplifier, several antennas (at least three and sometimes more) and something called a “block downconverter” that takes the super-high-frequency satellite signal and converts it to frequencies that can travel over the average coax cable. That’s a lot of value for something that usually sells for under fifty bucks.

What are signs of a broken LNB?

If you start getting errors on random channels, where some channels will come in well and others do not, this can be a sign of a broken LNB. It can also be a sign that your dish needs to be re-aimed, or that there’s something between the dish and the sky. A more reliable method is to look at the satellite setup.

On Genies

Note: This procedure will disrupt live TV as well as any recordings that are in progress.

  • Start by pressing MENU while you’re watching live TV.
  • Arrow to Settings, then over to Satellite.
  • Press SELECT.
  • Make sure View Signal Strength is selected and press SELECT.
  • Press DASH (to the left of the zero) to get past the nag screen.

You’ll see a screen like this. It’s normal to see a few zeroes, and it’s also normal to see one or two numbers that are low. What you’re looking for is a pattern like, every other number is zero. Press SELECT to go from satellite to satellite.

  • It’s normal to get all zeroes on 110 or not to have an entry for 110.
  • You may or may not have an entry for 119. That’s normal.

For older (non-Genie) receivers and DVRs

The procedure is the same but the screens look a little different.

  • Press MENU.
  • Arrow to Settings & Help and press SELECT.
  • Arrow to Settings and press SELECT.
  • Next, Arrow to Satellite and press SELECT.
  • Make sure View Signal Strength is selected and press SELECT.
  • Press DASH to get past the warning screen, if there is one.

As you can see the screen is essentially the same and the instructions are the same too.

How often does this happen?

As someone who talks to a lot of DIRECTV and DISH installers, I can assure you that LNBs break all the time. The good news is that they usually break immediately, or they break after about 3-4 years. Despite the best quality control steps, some LNBs are no good when they get to the customer site. Something happens in transport, or there’s some unexpected static electricity that fries them when you’re hooking them up, or something like that. That’s why every installer I know has at least one of every type of LNB on the truck as an extra. As a regular person you can’t afford to do that, but you should know that LNBs do fail and it does happen. We do our best to help in cases like that but sometimes it’s just out of our control.

Learn to replace your own LNB

An LNB replacement isn’t really that hard. You can learn how to do it with our free downloadable guide. If you’re not sure what to do, if you need help, or even if you want someone to come and do it for you, call us! We’re here for you during East Coast business hours at 888-233-7563!

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.