Should you clean icicles off your satellite dish?

OK, it’s officially the dead of winter. You might have gotten snow wherever you are, even if you’re a traditionally moderate climate. This is the time of year where absolutely no one walks outside in a t-shirt and shorts. Winter storms seem to get more intense every year, and with them come unexpected problems.

The icicle cometh

Maybe this is the first year that you’ve seen icicles on your dish. For those in the southern half of the country, icicles form when the weather is very near freezing. Water melts and the drop re-freeze, causing icicles. If you live somewhere that doesn’t normally get freezing temperatures, this may be the first experience you have with them. Or, if you’re in a traditionally colder clime you may not expect icicles to form at the end of January… and suddenly they have.

It doesn’t matter. It’s not about why the icicles are there, it’s about what to do with them. A satellite dish is actually a “perfect storm” for icicle production. The sun hitting the surface of the dish may warm water enough to melt it, but the edges of the dish may be cold enough to cause it to freeze again. And so, you may look up and see a pretty icy site up there.

The one question you need to ask

Actually there’s more than one question. But, let’s start with the most important question: Are you having problems with satellite reception due to icicles? Chances are you aren’t. Icicles hanging off the bottom of the dish aren’t likely to cause you any problems. And, if you’re not having problems, leave those icicles alone. Yes, they are unsightly. But, if you see ice on the dish there’s probably ice on the roof too. I love satellite TV as much as anyone but I’m not willing to break both legs to keep it.

If there’s no reception problem, avoid the temptation to poke at the dish with a broom or anything. You’ll knock the dish out of alignment and that will mean even worse reception.

If icicles are causing reception problems

Here’s an unorthodox method that does work, especially if you have everything you need on hand. Start with a super-soaker or some sort of decent water gun. Fill it with the cheapest vodka you can; no reason to spend extra for Tito’s or anything premium. Shoot it at the icicles. The alcohol, being room temperature, will melt the ice without re-freezing. I got this tip from a satellite TV fan who is a little bit scary good at doing this. I’m trying to get them to do a YouTube video to show you all.

In the meantime, if you do want to upgrade your satellite TV system, especially because of an unpleasant attempt to get ice off the dish, shop at or call us at 888-233-7563 to learn more!

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.