Lightning can damage electronic equipment!

What to Do if Your Digital TV Doesn’t Work After a Thunderstorm

If your Digital TVs have stopped working after a storms in your area there are a few things you can check before calling a TV antenna installer or replacing your TVs.

Are all your TVs affected?

If just one of your TVs is affected and others are ok, it’s possible that lightning has damaged the TV. Before you take a TV in for repair though, work through my usual instructions for bad Digital TV reception. You may save yourself some money by doing so. It’s possible the storm has reduced the signal strength at your antenna which has then shown up a pre-existing problem.

If all TVs are affected it’s more likely the antenna system has been damaged.

Was there lightning nearby?

Amplifier Damage

What a masthead amplifier looks like - the grey box on the pole
What a masthead amplifier looks like – the grey box on the pole

Close lightning strikes can fry the components of masthead or distribution amplifiers. Power spikes can also damage power supplies for amplifiers. If you have an amplifier in your TV cabling system and all your TVs have stopped working this would be my first suspicion as to the cause. If possible replace the power supply first and see if it works. If it still doesn’t work replace the amplifier as well.

Balun Damage

If you have an older style TV antenna with a balun, it is possible the balun has been damaged. A balun is a special coil that connects the antenna to the cable. They can by fried by very close lightning strikes. You may be able to replace the balun if the antenna is in good enough condition. Otherwise you may have to replace the antenna.

The newer style compact log periodic antennas don’t have a replaceable balun, so if you’ve eliminated all other possibility you may need to replace the whole antenna.

Wind, Rain and Hail Damage

Storm damage to an already rusty antenna - if your antenna looks like this, replace it!
Storm damage to an already rusty antenna – if your antenna looks like this, replace it!

If your antenna has sustained visible physical damage it’s likely you’ll need to replace it. It’s possible you could reattach broken elements however it’s probable the repair won’t work. There may be other less visible and harder to fix damage in the parts of the antenna that connect it to the cable.

Rusted balun connection box - something like this might work until a storm flexes it and breaks the connection
Rusted balun connection box – something like this might work until a storm flexes it and breaks the connection

Older antennas may get water into the balun or other parts and this can stop them from working. If there’s existing corrosion on the antenna, particularly where it connects to the cable, the movement in the wind can break the connection between the antenna and the cable.

Usually whenever there is wind, rain or hail damage to antenna I’d recommend replacing it. Sure it may be possible to make a repair but it may be time consuming and unreliable in the long run.

If all else fails

It is possible that a lightning strike could fry everything in your TV system – the antenna balun, the amplifier and your Digital TV. If you can’t easily identify the problem you may need to call out a TV Antenna Technician, who can plug in a digital TV signal meter to test the antenna and other system components. I’d recommend doing that before taking a TV into a repairer.

  • Astrid Ayala

    Hi. I have an issue with my TV. Apparently (because the people of Directv has´t come yet), a lightning strikes the dish of the antenna. My decodifier and the tv doesn´t work anymore. I live in Venezuela, so the service of anything is impossible! I´m trying to contact LG for TV service and they don´t have services in my city. What could be the problem? The video card (main unit) or the power supply? The light work correctly, the others electronics are fine. Apparently the problem was the conection of the Directv.