Is the problem interference or reception?

Sometimes it's difficult to know whether the problem is due to interference or poor reception, but it's important to try to find out, as the causes and solutions are quite different.

Interference happens when an unwanted signal comes in on top of the broadcast signal (which itself may be perfectly good) and disrupts your ability to receive it properly. If that unwanted signal isn’t present, reception is normal. Usually the only way to solve the problem is either to get rid of the interfering signal, or take steps to avoid picking it up. You might need outside help to do this, though some types of interference can be caused by your own equipment. Common causes of interference include:

  • Central heating thermostats
  • Electric motors such as drills, electric lawnmowers, hairdryers
  • Faulty TV amplifiers or boosters
  • Poorly suppressed engines such as motor bikes, petrol lawnmowers
  • Nearby radio transmitters such as CB enthusiasts, amateur radio, taxis

 

Reception problems cover just about everything else and are normally the responsibility of either the householder or the broadcaster to overcome, depending on where the problem lies. Common causes of reception problems include:

  • Equipment or installation faults
  • Trees or buildings blocking reception
  • Signals being reflected from buildings, structures or hills
  • Weather-related problems
  • Transmitter work or faults

How do I tell?

If you’ve had the problem continuously for some time, and especially if it is not affecting neighbours using their own aerials, it is likely to be a reception problem, not interference.

If the problem occurs intermittently but reception is otherwise good, and it affects your neighbours’ reception at the same time in the same way, it’s more likely to be interference.

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