What’s the best way to keep ice off an antenna?

For those who live in the northern half of the country, it’s about to get a lot snowier and icier. Every year beings fresh adventures into the arctic wasteland for us in Novi, Michigan, and if you’re anywhere near us you’re probably piling up the firewood and checking the generator. It’s a yearly ritual that we all undertake.

Have you had your over-the-air antenna for more than a year? You may have noticed that there are times of the year when it gathers icicles. You may have wondered what to do about that. Luckily, the answer to almost every question —including this one— can be found on the internet.

Best option: don’t worry about the icicles.

Ice on the antenna isn’t going to make a difference as long as the antenna is in good shape. So long as the balun and its sensitive electronics are still in a water-resistant seal, there’s little to worry about. An antenna that’s in good shape should be able to handle the weight of pretty much any icicle hanging from it.

If you want to plan to avoid icicles…

It’s not a perfect solution but there are several chemicals which will repel water from your antenna. Coating the antenna with one of these will stop the icicles from taking hold at least for a little while.

WD-40 is my preferred go-to for this sort of thing. Most people don’t realize that the “WD” stands for “water displacement.” It’s an oily substance that pushes water out from rusted parts. It can also stop water from taking hold.

Rain-X is designed to keep water off your windshield. It’s the most expensive of my suggestions. That’s because the water-repelling chemical is completely clear. That’s cool and all if you put it on a windshield but it’s utterly unimportant when you put it on an antenna.

Penetrating oil is a special-purpose lubricant that stops rust from inside machinery. It’s kind of like a weird cross between WD-40 and molasses. Chances are you don’t have this unless you know what it does and you’re not likely to go out and buy it for this purpose unless you find it a lot cheaper than the other alternatives.

Basically spray the antenna like crazy. You want to get it just dripping wet with whatever you use. This also means it’s going to ooze all over you and all over the roof and everything, which is why I say…

DO NOT APPLY ANY WATER DISPLACEMENT SPRAY AFTER IT’S ALREADY SNOWED.

Seriously it’s going to be slippery enough just going up and down a ladder without this stuff on your hands, on the roof, on the ladder etc. Be SUPER careful with this and if there’s any way you can do it from a flat surface like a patio you are much much better off. This can be super dangerous so don’t do it unless you can be 100% safe.

If there’s already an icicle on the antenna

…you can choose to knock it off with a broom or whatnot but you are just better off living with the consequences. If you are worried that having an icicle on the antenna is going to destroy the antenna, you should be worried about the effect that hitting your antenna with a broom is going to have. Not to mention, you could lose your balance and end up in traction. I promise you, it is definitely not worth it.

It’s not too late…

If you’re actually worried that your antenna is too old and frail to survive another winter with ice on it, you are much better off shopping for a new antenna at Solid Signal. You can get antennas with plastic outer cladding that resist ice, or a high-quality aluminum antenna that will hold up to the elements for years to come. Get it now, put it on the roof now, and don’t worry about the ice for several more years. Better safe than sorry, as they say.