TIP: Winter’s around the corner… check those connections

Halloween is almost here and that means that winter weather is only about a few weeeks away in much of the country. This is a great time to take a look at your outdoor connections while it’s still warm enough to replace them without wearing gloves.

Some things to look at

Take a look at your outdoor cables. The cables themselves should look good, but intense sunlight can cause cable sheaths (the plastic outside part) to crack. UV radiation eats at plastic, and uneven expansion can cause cracks along the length of the cable. Cracked cables can work fine in the summer but winter weather can take them out of commission.

Check the tightness and condition of all connectors. If you see any pitting on the outside, there’s probably corrosion on the inside. Also, connectors should be tight and should not wiggle or wobble when twisted gently with the fingers. Look at any exposed connections. Connections that look dull grey could be corroded. They should be replaced.

If you have a dish heater, try it out on the ground and make sure it still works. If you use a long broom to get snow off the dish reflector, find it now instead of when you need it.

Last minute yard work

Now is also a great time to prune back branches that have gotten long enough to drop leaves in front of the dish. This is especially important if you have a low-profile mount on your roof. These have become a lot more common in past years. They put the dish closer to the surface of the roof where leaves can aggregate.

Some other things to consider

If you have your equipment on a UPS, check the battery by unplugging them and making sure they still power your electronics. If they don’t, it’s time to order a battery now while there’s time to change it out.

When you use an over-the-air antenna, it’s easy to forget that it’s a sensitive piece of electronic equipment. Head up to the roof and make sure those tines are straight and that summer rains haven’t knocked it off plumb or out of alignment.

It’s also a great time to look at any outdoor equipment that your cable or internet company has put in place. It sometimes takes a little bit of time to get them to come out and replace something, so it’s best to start now. No one wants to be without internet, especially in the winter.

Oh and southerners, don’t think you’re immune from these annual checks. You’ll need to check for sun damage to cables and to make sure that everything is nice and tight. Extreme heat can cause connectors to swell, sometimes giving dust and dirt a place to get in. Wintertime may be easier if you’re down south, but it doesn’t mean you want to get caught without a critical part working.

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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.