My TV Says No Signal but Everything Is Plugged In

By Greg Martinez / March 27, 2020
Cable ports at the back of digital video recorder device

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It’s probably happened to you a few times. You’ve got the popcorn made and the drinks ready. You’re in your most comfortable clothing. Perhaps you’ve even invited a friend over.

It’s the season premiere of your favorite show, and it’s been a long time coming. (Or what seemed like an eternity if you’re a Game of Thrones fan.)

You turn on the TV and there it is: the dreaded “No Signal” error message, announced matter-of-factly by your TV.

Even if you’ve got experience, this stark message in bold letters – printed across a blank, expressionless screen – can give you pause.

In this troubleshooting guide, you’ll learn ways to quickly locate and address the source of a no signal TV.

Now, you’ll doubtless find similar articles like this one on the web, but these are often instructions, product information, and manuals pertaining to specific TV manufacturers. This article provides generic step-by-step support.

Ready to start? OK, let’s first make sure we understand what the causes of “no signal” are.

No Signal on TV

TV showing a no signal error

If you’ve got an over-the-air (OTA) TV antenna to pick up local television broadcasts, you might not know where to start.

Televisions are supposed to turn on when you press the input button on the remote control, right? Why isn’t the HDTV giving feedback? Well, if you’ve cut the cord and are no longer relying on cable TV or satellite TV, you can’t call the service provider to ask questions and get assistance.

You might first check all the plugs and connections (like a power cable to one of your connected devices somewhere).

Also, the check the cable box or satellite box (if you haven’t cut the cord) to verify you’re getting the correct source.

But, rather than panicking (and risk spilling the popcorn), adopt a methodical step-by-step process to determining the cause of the outage. It’ll save you time in troubleshooting issues and help you quickly find a solution faster.

Back to the process, the fault might be located somewhere in your home or on your roof. Alternatively, it may be a broadcasting issue, particularly if you’re using a TV antenna.

The ongoing FCC channel repack – resulting from the nation’s switch to 5G – could cause a TV channel to suddenly go MIA.

You see, with the advent of 5G wireless, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has auctioned off various existing TV frequencies, moving some from television broadcasters and allocating them to wireless service providers.

Since over-the-air television broadcasting and 5G wireless both use commercial spectrum, the changes might cause your favorite channel to disappear. If this is the case, never fear: Your TV service isn’t gone; it’ll simply reappear somewhere else.

This “repack” of FCC broadcast spectrum began in September 2018 and will continue through July 2020. If your favorite channel disappears but others remain, the source of your problem is external to your home entertainment setup, and has nothing to do with low signal strength.

To find your favorite channel again, make sure to access the TV settings menu and run a channel rescan as described in this article (this usually just involves pressing a button like Home on your Smart TV remote control).

If all your channels are gone and you’re currently having bad weather (heavy rain, wind, snow), then the source of signal loss could be due to weather interference.

In the rest of this article, however, we’ll focus on what to do if your “no signal” message is related to local problems in your home (or on your roof).

How to Fix My TV When It Says “No Signal”

If you’ve determined that your lack of signal isn’t an external problem due to broadcasting changes or interference from bad weather, it’s safe to assume the problem’s location lies somewhere within your home.

It might be in the electronics or in a component of your devices, such as your TV or HD antenna, or in their connections, including the antenna coaxial cable, F-connectors on the TV or set-top box, or ports.

To rectify the problem, you’ll need to follow a checklist to understand what may have gone wrong. For the sake of expediency, I’ll start with the most common problems and finish with tips concerning rarer troubles.

1. Double-Check All Connections and Restart

Your television may not be set to the correct source or input. If you’re not sure what the correct input should be, check the manufacturer’s documentation, either in the installation manual that came with your TV or device, or on the support website on the internet.

Use the buttons on the TV’s remote to cycle through the input sources (such as HDMI 1, HDMI 2, AV, etc.) to find the right one. Even if this doesn’t fix the problem, it’s worth trying out before going with more complex solutions.

Ensure that any source device you’ve connected to the television is powered on. Now obviously, if you’re getting a “no signal” message in the first place, you know that the television is already on.

Make sure to restart your TV system. To do this, press the TV button to power it off, wait a few minutes, and turn it back on again.

This may be enough to rectify the problem.

Still no signal? Time to evaluate the scope of the problem. Is it just one TV, or all TVs in your household? This is an important clue as to where the problem might lie.

If it’s only one HD TV showing a “no signal” message, you’ll want to check the input sources into your television from the antenna or from other devices connected to the TV via HDMI inputs.

2. Evaluate the Plugs and Cabling

One of the most common reasons for a “no signal” message is that an HDMI connection isn’t securely fastened in the port.

Sometimes you may notice that an HDMI cable doesn’t fit well into a port – it wiggles too loosely or partially falls out – because one or the other has become worn.

If it’s the cable, you may consider replacing it with a locking cable like the Accell Avgrip Pro HDMI Cable. This will ensure it stays in place in the port to prevent the problem from happening again.

Accell Avgrip Pro HDMI Cable

If it’s the port that appears to be damaged, determine if your TV has a second HDMI port and make the switch to the other port. If you have only one port or both are damaged, you’ll likely need to call a professional for repair or maintenance.

Once you’ve checked and reestablished the connections, rescan the active channels to see if the problem is resolved. If not, it may be time to consider your TV antenna and its connections.

If your antenna is connected to a set-top box or an external tuner like an HDHomeRun Extend, then apply the steps above to the box or tuner and see if that helps.

3. Check the Antenna

If all your connections are working fine, the cause may lie in the OTA antenna itself (or its coaxial cable down to your TV), particularly if you’re getting the issue on more than one television set.

This means it’s time to go further up the chain to determine the source of the problem. This may lie in a faulty or corroded coax or in one of its connections. It may also lurk with another device such as a preamplifier or splitter.

It’s a good idea to check the connections between coaxial cables and equipment. Replace anything that’s broken or worn or appears to be poorly fitting.

For outdoor connections, you may find that weather has corroded them and prevented them from fitting correctly. The next step is to replace them or waterproof them to prevent the problem from happening again in the future.

If the problem doesn’t seem to be indoors, you may have to inspect the antenna itself. If you’ve had some bad weather recently, or the antenna infrastructure itself is aging, you may need to ensure it’s still mounted securely.

If the antenna is fixed atop a pole that sways in the wind, this could adversely affect signal quality.

If you can’t secure the antenna with existing fastenings and tools, you may need to consider installing guy wires made of galvanized steel to fasten the antenna pole on site to prevent excessive movement from wind and weather.

Call a Professional If You’re Not Sure

If you believe the issue may lie with the antenna but you’re concerned about checking it yourself – particularly if it’s mounted on your roof and there’s an accessibility issue – you can call a professional installer to check the mountings and connections.

Ron Denmon - April 7, 2020

Just want to share my experience. I have a TV box and I also cut the cord. and from the moment I decided to free tv, I get no signal like the photo here, I get scared that maybe my tv box is broken. Happens that I only just need to make it to its “video mode” and viola. everything’s fine.

Anikina - May 6, 2020

I just wonder what is that black and white like particles that appear when a tv has no signal?

    Greg Martinez - May 7, 2020

    That “snow” you’re seeing used to appear on analog TVs – and signified bad reception. It was your TV’s attempt to render random signals from internal circuits, outer space, and other sources into an image.

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