3 Common Coax Splitter Problems Explained

Two coax, or coaxial, splitters sit against a white surface.
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What You'll Need
Coaxial Splitter
RG6 Coaxial Cable
What You'll Need
Coaxial Splitter
RG6 Coaxial Cable

There are many different things that can go wrong when using a coaxial, or coax, splitter, causing you to lose picture quality, sound definition, or even lose your signal completely. Many people don't understand the science behind coaxial splitters and are baffled when problems continue to manifest themselves over and over. The following article will explain what a coax splitter is and what it does, as well as how to troubleshoot common coax splitter problems when they do occur.

What Exactly Is a Coaxial Splitter?

Coaxial cable lines are produced to provide only one signal to power a singular audiovisual device. This can be an issue in most households where there is more than one device that needs a signal.

Coaxial splitters are small connector devices designed with an input line to provide a connection to your existing cable and multiple output lines that tap into your cable's signal and split it into several lines to connect to multiple devices. The number of output lines can be customized to your preference, depending on what the splitter will be used for.

1. Too Much Splitting

Most people fail to realize that the cable signal that runs through their home is not an unlimited source and therefore cannot be split into too many different lines as each split weakens the signal and increases chances of connection failure.

If you have more than three TVs hooked up to one cable line and you notice that the signal has been significantly reduced and/or the sound/picture quality available to each TV has been compromised, you may have over-stretched the signal. This problem can be rectified by purchasing an amplified coax splitter which enhances the cable signal while allowing you to distribute to more outputs without risk of failure.

2. Connecting Cable TV to Cable Internet Modem

In order to save cash, many households decide to split their coax cable line to provide both TV and Internet service. Although this is a fundamentally sound idea, the problem with this method is that cable internet requires a strong signal in order to function correctly, and because the signal is being split, there may not be enough power to sustain a good connection, causing poor signal quality or even loss of service.

The solution to this problem is to choose a high output, one GHz splitter that is designed to pass a large amount of data. This will allow you to maximize the efficiency of your signal and will usually be enough to reduce any cable/internet connection problems significantly.

3. Improper Cable/Splitter Choice

When choosing a splitter for your home entertainment needs, select the number of output lines you will need for your splitter carefully. Splitters are designed to distribute the signal evenly between each of its connection ports, regardless of how many lines are actually being utilized at any given time.

Choose only the amount of output lines you will actually be using in order to avoid weakening your cable signal unnecessarily.

When choosing a cable, the RG6 coaxial cables are the newer type offering a heavier gauge wire with insulation and shielding tuned for high-bandwidth, high-frequency applications such as the Internet, Cable TV, and Satellite TV signals.

RG6 cable is your best bet over RG59 built with a much smaller wire which was widely used in the past before satellite and internet, only recommended for low bandwidth and lower frequency applications such as analog video and CCTV installations.

Also, when choosing splitter cables, choose a cable that is long enough to reach each electronic device comfortably, but be aware that the longer the cable line, the further the signal has to travel and the weaker it becomes.

If you have a large home or need to stretch your signal across longer distances, it may be necessary to purchase an amplifier splitter to make sure that you are getting the best connection quality possible.

Coax Splitter Problems FAQ

What are the symptoms of a bad coax splitter?

When your coax splitter is going bad, you will notice a problem with the video signal. This could include static, signal loss, or distortions to the image.

What is the most common coaxial cable fault?

The most common reason coaxial cables fail to work properly is physical damage. These cables are actually very sensitive and can be damaged by bending, impact, or improper handling.

Can a splitter go bad?

Coax splitters can stop working over time, often due to temperature changes or moisture. Coax splitters are subject to corrosion, which makes them susceptible to moisture damage.

Splitters can also simply wear out over time.

How do you test a splitter?

If you think your coax splitter is going bad but you aren't sure, there is one easy way to test it. Disconnect the coaxial cables connected to the splitter and replace them with new cables.

If you are still having a problem with your video it may be the splitter that's bad, but it is not the cables.

Does length of coaxial cable affect signal?

As the signal travels along the length of coaxial cable, there is some degradation. The longer the cable, the more signal loss there will be.

Length of the cable absolutely matters, which is why it is best to keep the cables as short as you can to experience maximum video clarity and quality.