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Hello all, first time on here, and I'm sure it won't be my last. 馃槉
My parents have been living in a house since 2004, it was built in the 70's. It seems like every time we need to fix or replace something, it looks like a very unskilled and sloppy DIY person had their hands in everything in the house, so I just don't trust anything to be done properly.
Anyhow, my folks have had lots of trouble with cable over the years. Comcast says the signal coming into the house is fine, so I assume that the trouble is the cabling in the house.
So recently, they had trouble where all the HD channels were very broken up. I did some basic troubleshooting, I tried to take splitters out of the equation and plugging hardware into different cable connections to try to determine if it might be the hardware, or the lines that are problematic, because it seemed like only the TV in the living room was impacted. I finally found the splitter going to that TV in the ceiling and replaced it with a newer one that has 4K capabilities, higher speed internet capable, and a built in surge protector. That seemed to resolve the issue immediately, and Dad was super pleased. A few days later I sat down with him and noticed the TV was still breaking up. He says, "It's not nearly as bad as before", I say it's not acceptable and I'm going to figure out how to fix it.
Now a week later, the TV in their bedroom no longer has cable. What the heck. I didn't do anything with the cable. What I did was simply unscrew the old splitter and screwed in the new one. Other than that, I pulled a little on the cable going up to the living room to see if there was any 'give', in case I ended up needing to pull a new cable through. Well, it seemed like it was either caught up on something, or stuck in place. I honestly would not put it past the previous owner to tack right through the cable and just leave it like that. But everything is up in the joists and the part where I could get into is a drop ceiling, so I only had to move the ceiling tiles to get to the splitter. The part where the cable is 'stuck' is in a section I can't get to because it's a regular ceiling and I'd have to start cutting sections out to see. How the heck do people deal with situations like that? I have no idea what to do, I can't cut pieces of ceiling out. So there's that.
The other thing that *may* be at play here -where the cable comes into the house is about 20 from one of those huge towers that has electrical lines that bring power to the area. We seem to have cell phone interference from them, because they have no cell signal at their house. I keep reading that those power lines can't impact things like cable or cell signals, yet those power lines run past three roads and if you drive down those roads and get close to the power line towers, you've got no signal - so I'm having a really hard time believing that those towers (or perhaps the lines?) aren't the cause of the interference.
Is it possible that those towers are causing interference with the cable? Like do I need to perhaps replace the cable with some kind of shielded cable?
Any thoughts in general about my situation would be helpful.
 

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the cable in a 70's home is most likely RG59 and not as reliable for todays HD as RG6 or RG11 would be,


the simple answer is to put one splitter right where the cable enters the home, then run a new RG6 or RG11 cable from the splitter to each TV,


if you dont want to, or cant do that, other things to try are to upgrade your splitters and eliminate as many of them as possible,


also replace ALL OF YOUR CABLE ENDS with compression type cable ends, those old crimp on ends or screw on ends are horrible for signal loss,


you would be surprised at how much difference good cable ends/connectors make
 

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It sounds like you have digital cable, which can be very sensitive to signal strength. Usually, the signal coming into the house is strong enough to handle going through a couple of 2-way splitters, but you do have more than that, it gets so low that the picture starts to break up, or it can't be received at all.



I had a similar situation, and the solution was to put in a distribution amplifier.



I bought one of these amplifiers from PCT. It works great - no more problems.


There are some other things that might also be causing problems. The cable in the house needs to be RG6. A lot of older houses used RG59, which has a thinner conductor that causes more signal loss. It just doesn't work well for digital cable.



Another thing that causes signal loss is poor termination at the connectors. Older crimp-style connectors don't work very well. Use compression type connectors.



Your existing cable is probably stapled in place inside the walls if it was installed when the house was built. That would explain why you can't pull it. Even if it's not stapled, if it goes around a turn or two, you'll have a hard time using it to pull new cable through. If it's not RG6, you'll need to find a way to run new cable.



The HV electric lines shouldn't cause trouble with good quality RG6 cable. I'd recommend getting quad shielded cable to replace what's there now.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks anyacolo, I appreciate your thoughts on this. I plan on taking a much better look at the cabling this weekend and draw up a diagram to make this all easier on myself. I would definitely like to replace and simplify what is already in the house now. There are too many splitters off of other splitters. I'm thinking that logically anytime you have a point of connection or a split, that is a potential chance of issue, but when there are less connections and splits, there's less places for things to go wrong.
I didn't know about compression fittings, so I will look into that as well.
 

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Thanks RAL238, again the info is very much appreciated! I've made a plan of action and hopefully I'll make some progress this weekend
 

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Thanks anyacolo, I appreciate your thoughts on this. I plan on taking a much better look at the cabling this weekend and draw up a diagram to make this all easier on myself. I would definitely like to replace and simplify what is already in the house now. There are too many splitters off of other splitters. I'm thinking that logically anytime you have a point of connection or a split, that is a potential chance of issue, but when there are less connections and splits, there's less places for things to go wrong.
I didn't know about compression fittings, so I will look into that as well.

Anytime you have a splitter, it cuts the signal strength. A 2-way splitter cuts it in half. A 2-way feeding another 2-way splitter cuts it half again, so you end up with 1/4 the original signal. A 4-way feeding a 2-way cuts it by a factor of 8.



A distribution amplifier will solve this problem. What you'd like to have is all the cables feeding back to one central point where you have the amplifier, with no splitters anywhere.



To install new compression connectors, get the right tools. It makes the job very easy. Here's an inexpensive compression tool.





Another thing you should do is place terminators on any unused amplifier or splitter ports. Leaving them unterminated can degrade the signal on the other ports that are being used.
 

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the cable in a 70's home is most likely RG59 and not as reliable for todays HD as RG6 or RG11 would be,
Also, the TV outlets from a 1970s home are unlikely to be F connectors, as used on the "distribution amplifier" mentioned by RAL238
Replace all your outlets and the connections to the TVs with appropriate F connectors.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Good news! I spent this past weekend hunting for the cables and found 2 extra splitters that I didn't know about. One had a cable going to nowhere, one of the splitters was backwards (the output to the TV was connected to the input on the splitter and the cable source was on the output of the splitter), and also couple of unnecessary cables. I was able to eliminate items and simplify the entire house cabling. I also added a multi-port amplifier. Cable throughout the house is working very well (finally, after 14 years of crappy signal) and the quality of the picture is better as well. I still plan on replacing the old cables when I get a chance and there's still one more splitter I can get rid of, now that I know how all the cabling runs through the house it will be much easier to replace - but I think I'll wait for cooler days before I do that.
I now have a much better understanding of how this all works and how to improve our existing setup even better. Plus I was able to work out a new spot to put my cable modem/router so that I can get a better Wifi signal to the whole house, so that was an added bonus that came out of this.
Thanks again for the suggestions and information, I really appreciate it!
 

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Some good information here on cabling and connectors. I have been less than thrilled with my satellite HD TV reception (good signal strength) and know that the cabling in the house is a bit of a dogs breakfast. Are distribution amplifiers compatible with satellite TV?
 
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