Does a layer of black dust hurt your antenna?

If your antenna has been up on the roof for any amount of time you may notice that it’s starting to turn black. If you go up on the roof you may be able to wipe off some of this black dust but some will stay. Should you be worried that the antenna is already wearing out?

Good news, no.

That black dust sticking to the keyboard is called “oxidation” and it’s perfectly normal. It’s akin to a penny turning green, or sort of like rust. However, unlike rust, it’s not going to corrode through your antenna. Oxidation happens because your antenna is made of aluminum and aluminum doesn’t like to exist in its pure state very much. When you find aluminum out in nature it’s combined with some other element, but for antennas it’s converted to pure aluminum so that it does a better job as an antenna.

It’s a natural process

So, it’s perfectly natural for aluminum to try to return back to a form like one you’d find in nature, so the atoms of aluminum combine with atoms of oxygen in the air (helped along by some water in the air and the electrical current of the radio waves) and turns the aluminum into aluminum oxide. That’s what that black stuff is.

Nothing to worry about it

Unlike iron oxide (rust) aluminum oxide is very stable. A layer of it on your antenna’s actually a good thing — it protects the antenna from corrosion instead of causing it. And what’s even better… aluminum oxide does a good job of pulling in radio and TV signals, almost as good as pure aluminum. The only reason they don’t make the entire antenna out of aluminum oxide is that it’s not as strong as pure aluminum.

So, don’t worry about that black dust, it’s actually protecting the rest of the antenna. Don’t clean it off, it will just come back.

Looking for an antenna that won’t oxidize?

Many of the antennas that we sell at Solid Signal have a plastic radome on them. This protects the inner elements and electronics. Many people think this also gives the antenna a more modern appearance. If you’re looking to replace an antenna that looks like it’s from 1955, you should consider the excellent selection of outdoor antennas from Solid Signal.

Not sure which antenna is right for you? You can get a recommendation from a real antenna tech by filling out this form. Your request will be reviewed by a real human being — not just an app.  The tech will respond with a complete list of the parts and accessories that are best for your particular situation. The more information you put into the form, the better the recommendation will be. All our antenna forms are kept private and this information is never sold to third parties.

Shop with confidence when you check out the hundreds of antennas as well as over 40,000 parts at Solid Signal. You can find everything you’ll need to help you live your best digital life at one location! Plus, you can get all the support you’ll need by calling us during East Coast business hours. The number is 877-312-4547.

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.