NICE AND EASY: Can you use a TV antenna in the basement?

Well you cannnnnnnnn……

but don’t expect it to work really well. You’re much better off using an outdoor antenna or even an antenna on a ground floor. A TV antenna isn’t going to work really well in the basement.

Why is the basement such a problem?

It all comes down to signal strength. TV signals don’t do a good job of penetrating through dirt or foundation materials. In many parts of the country, dirt has a high amount of iron, giving it a brownish or reddish tint. That iron blocks signals very effectively. So do other metals found in the ground like copper.

Depending on the materials used in your house’s foundation, you may also have problems there. If there is red brick, that’s going to block signals really well. Concrete blocks do a good job of blocking signals and so do rocks. Foundation walls tend to be thicker than the walls on your house and that means they block more signal.

As if that weren’t enough, the basement is likely to be a place with more electromagnetic interference. It’s where you’ll find old power tools and appliances, electric furnaces, and all sorts of older devices that can create electromagnetic fields of their own.

What can you do if you want live TV in the basement?

You can start by running a wire either outside or upstairs. Even an indoor antenna on the ground floor will do better than one in the basement. You can use a flat cable like this one to fish through a basement window and mount an antenna outside. This will give much better results. Ideally you would want to run a cable all the way to the roof and use a large antenna, but even a small antenna mounted at ground level is going to vastly outperform anything you can do in the attic.

If you have Wi-Fi in the basement you can try to use a live TV streaming service but if you’re having problems with over-the-air TV I’m willing to bet you’re having Wi-Fi issues too, for the same reason. Wi-Fi doesn’t like going through hardwood floors, especially if they are varnished or sealed.

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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.