Have been plagued for many months with an excessive amount of static on
Chicago-area channels 2 and 5. The picture itself is beautiful, but with
the static it's hardly worth watching. The static consists of colored
speckles or dots and dashes in two four or five-inch bands that move
slowly up the screen. Sometimes it's so bad that you can hear the static
too. I've tried the usual tests and fixes, and now feel that the static
is either coming from something electrical in the house itself, or it's
coming from something outside the house. I've pulled all the breakers
and plugged the TV into different outlets, but no change. Is there
something I can use to tell if an electrical device in the house is
generating static? Similarly, is there something I can use to tell me if
the problem is coming from somewhere outside the house? I've tried a
multiband radio tuned to Channel 2, but the only clear thing I've found
is that when I touch the radio's antenna to a particular conduit, the
radio gets louder and clearer. (I suppose the conduit is acting as an
antenna.) Otherwise, the radio is noisy at many different locations in
the basement and house.
Open to and appreciative of ANY ideas. There has to be an answer
somewhere. The static is ridiculous. Outside of that, the picture's
Thanks for reading!
Good advice. We have four TVs and one had a problem on just a few channels
in the 42 to 45 range . I figured it was the TV since all the others were
OK. Put up with it for over a year and had the cable guy out for an upgrade
of service when we bought a new TV and had the same problem. He fixed it as
it was a bad coupler outside. Never suspected the cable as all the other
channels were perfect.
Wish I'd have tried swapping sets when it first started.
Try using a cheap AM radio as a "sensor". You'll get lots of "static" on
it, but maybe if you move it around the area where the TV is you'll detect a
change that'll give you a clue. The way you describe the interference, it
could be a whole lot of different things; compact flourescent lights, a
dimmer switch with a "loud" SCR in one of your lighting circuits or in a
neighbors, airplanes flying overhead, motors of almost any kind, etc... A
lot will depend on whether you're in a house or an apt; ground floor or up
high. A neighbor with any kind of radio transmitter, a large fan, and so
on, and so on...
The intuitive thing is to want and get a bigger antenna, more directional,
therefore more signal into the TV. That too, could be a cause. You could
be picking up the station "on frequency" and also picking up a reflection of
the signal after it's bounced off of something.
A counter-intuitive thing that might be worth trying is to pad or attenuate
the incoming signal. If your antenna connects to the TV with an "F
connector" (75ohms), you can pick up a 3db or 6db in-line attenuator,
probably at Radio Shack. If it's the ribbon-type (300 ohm) you may have to
do some creative converting to flip it over to 75ohms, introduce the pad,
then flip it back to 300 ohms.
A couple of questions:
1. Do you have an outside antenna? If so, it may have twisted due to wind,
and may no longer be pointing in the right direction.
2. If you have an outside antenna, are all the connections good? It's easy
to get water into type-f connectors that are not taped well with electrical
tape. Are all the connections secure? Is the feedline flopping around in the
wind? Try gently shaking the feedline while someone is watching the TV. Does
the problem change while the antenna or feedline is being wiggled? If so,
you have a bad connection. Be careful if climbing on the roof!
3. If you have an inside antenna, try an outside one, even if temporary, to
see if the problem improves.
1. The fact that the static slowly drifts means that it is caused by
something related to the 60 Hz powerline. The vertical sync of TV is 59.94
Hz, so that anything related to 60 Hz slowly drifts upwards on the screen.
This eliminates a large source of potential problems like Ethernet cables,
computers, printers, other electronic devices, microwave ovens, etc.
2. If you have determined that the outside antenna is in good shape, has
good connections, etc. then a likely culprit could be a defective powerline
insulator. These sometimes arc and cause exactly the sparklie problem you
see (but so do other things). Often a good rainstorm will clean off the
insulator and the problem may subside for awhile, then return when the
insulator drys out and gets dusty again. If you see this particular effect
(weather related) then it's time to call your power company and ask them to
look for the problem.
What you describe could be a motors capacitor going bad, on a frige.
Does it go away at times. Do you live in an apt and have a water
recirculator pump. It could be a neighbors frige going bad. A line
filter may or may not help
Using an amplified attic antenna which has always done a good job. A
of months ago it did seem to be weather related, but during a recent
the problem became much worse. Oh, I should have mentioned that we have
TV's in the house, and they both show exactly the same interference. The
TV has a good picture (except for the static) with a rabbit ears antenna,
it or not.
On Sat, 21 Feb 2004 15:38:02 -0600, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote (with
The others have given you good answers, particularly Tom who correctly
identified the problem as AC based. You might also try plugging the
tv into a noise filter. The noise filter must be plugged into a
grounded (3 prong) outlet.
In addition, you might try connecting the tv to a pair of "rabbit
ears". Extend the antennae and slowly turn it to see if the
interference gets worse at some point. Any increase will usually be
from a source (or strong reflection) which is perpendicular to the
antenna. (antennae oriented north-south means interference is from
A battery operated portable radio moved around can sometimes help, but
if it's power line induced, you may have to go outside to hear a
strong increase. Cracked insulators are a common cause and the power
company usually responds promptly.
Tried a noise filter today--no improvement. Tried a portable radio all
around outside the house. No real "hot spots." Will start fiddling with
a rabbit ears antenna.
I've been watching this thread and hoping for a definitive answer. I
have *exactly* the same problem. Local channel 3; rabbit ears. And
intermittent. Sometimes the channel is perfectly fine; sometimes a few
rows of marching dots (sometimes dashes) creeping up the screen ;
this morning the static noise made it impossible to watch, 'though the
video wasn't awful. This seems to happen for a couple of months at a
time. I can't report as to daily variation, because I usually watch
only in the early morning. Next door neighbors on both sides have no
unusual electronica AFAIK. Both have cable; I have DirecTV (with no
local channels). There's a fire&rescue station about a mile away, but
as I said, this problem comes and goes fairly randomly. I have an
fluorescent ceiling light in the room which makes no difference
whatsoever. There is nothing in *my* house that would be on or off on
I know this is no help, except in that you're not alone in bafflement.
FWIW, the symptom is usually a clear indication of electrical
interference. It is almost always physically near.
Do either of your neighbors have fish tanks? Have you tried switching
off circuit breakers to see if it disappears? Are you friendly enough
with your neighbors to try the same thing at their houses?
You can also try a portable, battery-operated radio to see if you can
Geez, this thing is like really weird magic. Yesterday morning, 5am,
picture OK; unbearable static noise from audio. 6pm -- perfectly clear
sound -- the intermittent dots seem to be a permanant fixture, varying
in intensity. This morning, 5am -- negligible dots; clear sound. No
fish tanks of which I'm aware. One neighbor suffers seriously from
asthma -- perhaps she has some equipment that's on and off at odd
times. And forgive me if I haven't been paying attention -- what does
one do with an AM radio to locate the source?
Normally, when you see and hear interference, it will also be
noticeable in an AM radio. A battery operated AM portable radio can
be moved around. The closer one gets to the interference, the worse
it becomes. In addition, there may be some directional help. When a
radio is turned in a horizontal plane, at the point of LEAST
interference, the radio antenna will be pointing AT the interference.
That is to say, the internal antenna will be in line with the source
(which could be coming from either direction). It's usually a useful
tool to locate the problem.
You didn't mention if the TV was getting its signal from cable, satellite,
or over the airwaves. If it is a cable TV signal that you are having the
problem, it is possible that the problem is the cable itself.
Many builders and homeowners tend to use RG59 wire for cable TV. This is a
single shield wire. The best wire to use is type RG6 Quad shield. It has
multiple layers of shielding to block interference from various sources and
If this is a relatively new problem, it's possible that somewhere nearby a
new antenna may have been erected for broadcasting, law enforcement, or
It happened to me several years ago. My cable reception was perfect for a
few years until suddenly a few channels became fuzzy. I contacted the cable
company and was told that their equipment was fine. They sent someone out
to the house and the technician told me about the new antenna that was
placed on the mountain adjacent to my town. It was causing similar problems
everywhere. I replaced the RG59 with RG6 Quad and the problem went away.
Since you're receiving off an antenna, and from your description,
you're almost certainly dealing with a power line based noise source.
If you can hear this noise on an AM radio, try listening for it on a
battery powered radio while you open the main breaker for your house.
This will rule out something in your house as the cause. Assuming it's
not in your house, it's time to call the power company. There are
Federal Communications Commission rules about this sort of thing - the
power company is obligated to fix it, but it's not always easy to get
them to do it. They should have direction finding equipment that will
help them locate the source. It could be an insulator, a lightning
arrestor, or some other component. If it's on constantly it's not that
hard to find with the right equipment. But it may take several phone
calls to get them to act.
Good luck. I've had trouble getting my power company to fix noise
sources even when I tracked it down and told them which pole it was.
Roger Grady email@example.com
To reply by email, remove "qlfit." from address
Although I doubt this is your problem I observed a similar situation a
few years ago when the electric utility was installing 115 KV lines some
distance away. The left the lines unterminated at either end and when
it was windy there was enough arcing to cause TV interference like
you're seeing. It wasn't at a rate close to 60 Hz though as yours
appears to be.
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