Don’t short out your antenna cable on the mast. (You’re Welcome.)

Don’t be this guy. I was recently working with a customer who complained about poor performance on his antenna. He got the same number of channels whether it was hooked up or not. According to our system, he should have been flush with free HDTV and he simply… wasn’t.

I had him change out the cable. Nothing. We even sent him a new antenna. Nothing. I was at the end of my rope and we were just talking about his installation. The antenna was feeding two TVs and he had the splitter up near the antenna. So, I thought, maybe the splitter is bad. I sent him another splitter. Nothing.

I have to tell you folks that I was beginning to get kind of irked. Oh, I wasn’t mad at the customer, I was mad at myself! This shouldn’t be that hard! There had to be something I just wasn’t seeing.

And there was.

In order to keep the installation clean, the customer was zip-tying the cable to the antenna mast. He also zip-tied the splitter, right to the mast. The problem was that the signal wasn’t going down the cable at all, it was shorting out on the mast and never going to the TVs at all. I had him cut the zip ties and bingo, his reception was fabulous, just what I thought it should be. We solved the problem by moving the splitter further down the line and putting it inside a waterproof box.

The moral here is that cables and connectors are made of metal, and so are masts. The signal inside those cables is made of electrical current and current likes to travel whatever method is easiest. In this particular case it was easiest for those signals to travel down the mast instead of traveling through the cable.

So, I’ll ask you, my Solid Signal Blog faithful, have you ever had something like this happen? Have you ever shorted out an antenna on its own mast, or even just tried to help someone only to find that they did something you never would have? Leave a comment below and share your stories!

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 7,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.