How to Boost DirecTV Satellite Reception
By Elizabeth Mott
DirecTV brings TV entertainment to subscribers who lack access to alternatives or want programming options that remain exclusive to the satellite service. The clarity of your signal depends on a transmission from the Earth's orbit to your antenna. Any obstacle that interferes with your signal degrades its strength and your viewing experience. To maximize your reception, verify your current service, your connections and your dish setup itself. Some methods of improving DirecTV signal require professional help; others remain do-it-yourself tasks.
Check Signal Strength
A drop in signal strength can cause video distortion or dropouts. Heavy rain, snow or hail can interfere with reception, causing temporary signal reductions or outages. If you see blocky picture distortions or hear "chuckling" audio dropouts during fair weather, check your satellite signal strength. Press the "Menu" button on your DirecTV receiver's remote control, select "Settings & Help" and choose the "Settings" option. The Satellite section of the Settings screen includes a test you can run to display signal strength. During fair weather, you should see readings in the 90s for most transponders in the list. Some signal meters may show zero, however, especially for transponders 4, 12, 18, 20, 26 and 28. DirecTV's satellite setup doesn't access those transponders in some parts of the U.S.
Verify Cable Integrity
Regardless of how well you receive the signals from DirecTV's satellites, your onscreen picture looks good only if the cabling that connects your dish, receiver and TV delivers it properly. Damaged or unnecessarily long cable, or loose connections, can interfere with signal delivery. Leave the job of assessing and, if necessary, replacing the wiring from your dish to your wall outlet to a professional installer with the proper ladders and tools to tackle the task safely. You can take care of the connection between your DirecTV receiver and TV set yourself.
Look for Signal Obstructions
Just as precipitation can block the signal between DirecTV and your antenna, so can more-permanent physical obstructions. If you notice weak signals during warm weather and better readings during colder seasons, your dish may be pointed at a tree. When its foliage grows in, the tree creates a more-opaque blockage; when it sheds its leaves, your signal can thread between bare branches. Short of harming the tree, your only recourse lies in relocating your dish so it doesn't aim through foliage. Any impediment that obscures the path toward the satellite's position in the southern sky can reduce signal strength.
Tune Up Dish Alignment
If you've used the same DirecTV satellite dish for a long time, its aim and position may have shifted subtly. Even if the tech who installed it tightened its mounting hardware correctly, wind and time can cause it to sag out of alignment. An antenna position that slumps out of line can interfere with signal reception. Like cable assessment and replacement, antenna adjustment remains a job for professionals. Whether you contact DirecTV and request technical assistance or hire an installer to verify your dish alignment, leave the risks to someone who undertakes them for a living.
- DirecTV: DirecTV Universal Remote Control User's Guide
- DirecTV: Non-DVR Receivers User Guide: DirecTV HD Receiver, DirecTV Standard Receiver
- DirecTV: User Guide: DirecTV HD Receivers
- DirecTV: User Guide: DirecTV HD DVR Receivers
- DirecTV Support: When I Do a Signal Meter Test, Why Do Some Transponders Show Zero Signal Strength?
- DirecTV Support: My TV Screen Is "Frozen" or Pixelated and I'm Seeing an Error Message That Includes the Number "771." What Should I Do?
- SeniorTV: Common Fixes to Searching for Satellite Error Messages
Elizabeth Mott has been a writer since 1983. Mott has extensive experience writing advertising copy for everything from kitchen appliances and financial services to education and tourism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Indiana State University.