When it’s finally time to take down that TV antenna

Use it as long as you can. Every TV antenna ever made for use in the US will still work today. Your old 1950s aerial may be bigger than today’s sleek units but it’s still going to deliver the goods as long as it’s in good shape.

Until, of course, the day when it’s not.

There’s going to come a time when it’s just so unsightly or non-functional that it’s time to take it down. Here’s what I suggest.

First, a nice sunny day with good weather. Don’t be a hero, don’t go up there when there’s lightning or when it’s wet or icy. The last thing you need is to be as broken as an old antenna.

Take the antenna but leave the mast. Unless the mounting hardware is in as bad shape as the antenna, there’s no point in taking it down. Chimney mounts could actually be helping your chimney stay strong… there’s no good reason to find out what happens if you take them down. If someone drilled holes right in the roof, don’t take the mast out. If you really need to then tar over the mount and cut the mast down as far as you can. You don’t want extra holes in the roof.

Have someone nearby but not below. You never want to go up on the roof without another person who can help in an emergency, but I promise you my friend, you will drop the antenna and it will go sailing down. This happens about 97% of the time. It will fall off the roof and while it won’t be going fast enough to cause too much damage, it’s possible someone could get an eye put out. So make sure there’s no one there to get hurt — have your helper stay inside until the coast is clear.

Take a good look at the cable. If you have that old flat wire and it’s still in good shape, it’s actually easy to connect it to a new antenna. (Actually, it usually involves leaving a part off and connecting the wire directly.) If it looks beat up though, you can take it out completely or use it to help you in stringing all new coaxial cable, which you’ll want if you have a new antenna up there anyway.

While you’re up there, check the grounding situation. Chances are, the homeowner who put that antenna up there in 1965 wasn’t thinking about grounding. If you don’t see a green wire attached anywhere to either the antenna or the cable, you’re going to want to deal with that before putting up another antenna. You’ve been living on borrowed time my friend, because without a proper ground, you risk real, serious danger to your home in a lightning storm. Your local city clerk’s office is the best resource for ordinances, but in many places you can run a wire to either a cold-water pipe or to the main breaker box chassis and that’s as far as you need to go.

It’s a shame when something like a TV antenna has truly and honestly served its time, but with a little common sense and the steps in this article, you’ll be able to take

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.