Should you use Loctite (or other thread locks) on antennas or dishes?

Hey, I get it. It seems like a good idea. But don’t do it.

It seems very tempting to put some sort of thread-lock on the bolts for your antenna or satellite dish. After all, you don’t want them moving. And, on a daily basis, that’s true. However you do want to make sure that you can re-aim when you need. Loctite and other thread-locking fluids are intended to be permanent.

Learn from this sad story

I knew a third-party installer who did this. In order to keep his customers happy, he used Loctite on all the bolts on the satellite dish. Sure, everyone was happy for a while. And then about two years later, a customer complained of signal loss. It’s common for commercial dishes to need just a little bit of reaiming every couple of years, especially if they are in buildings where there’s a lot going on. The building settles, there’s vibration, people go up on the roof and touch it, whatever.

This would have been a very easy call for the tech who would have been in and out in half an hour. Connect up your trusty AIM meter, turn a few adjustment screws, bing, bang, you’re done. Except, it didn’t turn out that way. He was up on the roof wrangling that dish off for a couple of hours. He had to replace everything including the J-Mount, because all the bolts were frozen solid. Add insult to injury, he had bolted the mount into brick, so he had to find a completely different place to mount it after he took off the old mount. What a mess.

Loctite has its place.

Sure it does. It wouldn’t be sold if it didn’t. And it’s not impossible to get off. If you use a heat gun carefully and long enough you can do it. But that’s not a great answer either. You don’t want to be messing around with that sort of thing when you have plastic bits on the dish. The best thing to do is simply avoid the temptation. When the thing needs re-aiming, re-aim it. Cutting corners never ends up being worth it.