Radio and TV Interference

Do you have a hard time listening to radio or watching broadcast television because of interference? Is the picture "snowy", or do horizontal lines appear across the picture, or is there a noise you cannot eliminate by turning the channel? If so, you may be experiencing interference from an appliance or equipment in your home.

The causes of interference
Common household appliances cause most radio or TV interference. Motors, heaters, dimmer switches, touch lamps, outdoor lighting photocells, even doorbell transformers - any of these, when in use, can interfere with broadcast TV or radio signals. On the other hand, tests show that electric utility power lines or equipment seldom cause interference problems. If you are having trouble receiving a clear radio or TV signal, the cause is most likely inside your own home - or possibly a neighbor's house.

What you can do about it
If you can find the source of the interference, you may be able to correct it. If an appliance or a part of your home's wiring is faulty, you may be able to repair or replace it. At the least, you may be able to avoid using the appliance when you are enjoying a favorite program.

Find the source of interference
These steps should help you trace the problem to its source. You will need a small, battery-powered AM radio and possibly a flashlight.

  1. Take the radio and flashlight to your main electrical service panel. It is usually located in the basement, in an attached garage, or somewhere near your electric meter.
  2. Tune the radio until you hear the interference noise. The noise may be easiest to hear when the radio is tuned between stations.
  3. If necessary, turn on the flashlight so you will be able to see. Turn off the main circuit breaker or main power switch to your home so power is cut to all circuits.
    • If you still hear the interference noise on the radio, the source is outside your home. In this case, call one of our toll-free Customer Services numbers for further assistance.
    • If the interference noise stopped, the source is somewhere in your home. Continue with the following steps.
  4. Turn the main breakers or power switch back on. Listen for the interference noise on the radio again. One at a time, turn off each branch circuit breaker (or remove each branch circuit fuse) until the noise stops.
    • When the noise stops, you have found the circuit on which the source is located. Note which circuit contains the interference source, then turn all the circuits back on (or replace all fuses).
  5. As you continue listening to the radio for the interference noise, go along the affected circuit and, one by one, turn off or unplug each electrical device. As before, when the noise on the radio stops you have found the source of the interference. Have the appliance inspected and repaired, or replaced.
  6. If the appliance itself checks out OK, have a licensed professional electrician check that circuit's outlets, switches, light fixtures, and other hard-wired equipment.

Still need help?
Contact us with your questions.