Why Wireless Signals Won’t Work in Some Homes

By: Julie Day

Wireless router and cell phone

I just bought an old house, and I can’t seem to get a wireless Internet signal to transmit from one room to another. What could be causing this? -Pete

If wireless signals won’t transmit inside your home, chances are your walls contain something that’s blocking the signal. Wireless Internet, cell phone signals, and even over air radio and TV connections won’t pass through metal, including both solid metal and metal mesh.

Signal Blocking Materials

Depending on your home’s floor plan, you may have trouble transmitting signals from room to room, or receiving signals from outside. In homes and apartments, the most common culprits are:

  • Metal Plaster Lath: In older homes with plaster walls, metal mesh lathing or even chicken wire was attached to the wall studs and ceiling joists as the base for the plaster. The imbedded metal wire can blocks signals – such as Wi-Fi or cell phone reception – from getting through.
  • Metal Stucco Lath: If your home’s exterior is stucco, it may also be imbedded with metal mesh. While your wireless signal should work between rooms, you may find it difficult to receive cell phone or over air TV reception from outside your home.
  • Foil Insulation: In more modern houses, the problem may be with foil backed insulation board or housewrap. While these products are most often used on the exterior walls, sometimes they’re also used to insulate kitchens and baths, or between apartments.
  • Other Signal Blocking Obstacles: If the signal is getting disrupted or is weak, there may be wave bouncing obstacles in its path – such as metal ductwork, steel girders, steel reinforced concrete, or water (such as a pool).

How to Increase Wireless Signals

To improve wireless signals in your home, try these tips:

  • Put your wireless router in the basement and see if the signal will transmit through the wood framed floors.
  • Find and remove whatever is blocking the signal. This may involve removing plaster or stucco, or opening up your home’s floor plan.
  • Consider multiple routers or signal enhancing devices to help your network broadcast from room to room.
  • Alternatively, you can forego wireless, and outfit your home with a hard wired network.

Blocking Electromagnetic Signals

While poor wireless reception can be frustrating if you’re trying to install a computer network or send a text message, some homeowners intentionally shield their houses from electromagnetic signals and radiation by imbedding metal mesh inside walls, ceilings, and floors to create an enclosed metal space – known as a Faraday cage – that’s immune to outside radiation.

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9 Comments on “Why Wireless Signals Won’t Work in Some Homes”

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  • Official Comment:


    Ben Erickson Says:
    March 12th, 2015 at 7:02 am

    Craig,
    Thanks for the research and feedback, it’s much appreciated!



  • Craig Says:
    March 11th, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    I did a lot of research on line to discover what can stop a cell phone signal. Inside an old home one problem would be plaster and lathe walls . A wire mesh is was used to put up the plaster. Another old home thing is ship-lap boards on the walls , these are 1″ X 4″ boards used as inside walls rather than drywall or plaster. Window tinting for sun damage control has a metallic substance in it to reflect the sun and also signals. And, new or old homes can have metal roofs, very durable but a cell stopper. Or there is a trend now to put up old fashioned tin ceilings. The last thing I found was “radiant barrier”, to recoil the sun’s heat back off the house. It can be sprayed on or installed as a thin foil like material on the interior of the roof and walls. In newer homes most are wrapped in a tinfoil covered foil insulation.

    I had ALL of these. I went to an exterior antenna wired to an interior 110 volt booster connected to an interior 6″ antenna. I went from one unsteady bar inside to three fine bars inside. You do have to have some signal outside your home for this to work. I had 2 to 3 wavering bars outside to 3 steady bars inside.



  • Liam Says:
    January 23rd, 2015 at 2:10 am

    Some things that might be useful for those in reflective buildings is to increase the Guard Interval.



  • Liam Says:
    January 23rd, 2015 at 2:09 am

    I have a directional Yagi for a 12 Metre Line-Of-Sight distance to the router. All alternatives result in drop-outs or appalling data throughput (200kbits/s anyone?).

    I don’t know what on earth the apartment is made from, but it certainly has reinforced concrete floor and roof, and at least some of the walls are concrete too. At 2.4Ghz, it acts like a hall of mirrors.



  • John Says:
    January 12th, 2015 at 11:20 am

    My daughter’s house had trouble with WiFi, due to something in the walls. We tried 2.4 Ghz several routers without success. We purchased an “ac” router that transmits on the 2.4 and 5 Ghz bands and found that the 5 GHz band ssolved the problem. We get fast WiFi @ 5 Ghz. Even with this new router, the 2.4 Ghz band is terrible. So we try to use the 5 GHz band for all our gadgets. We needed to purchase a 5 Ghz USB WiFi receiver for a laptop that didn’t have the 5 GHz band.



  • nick Says:
    November 14th, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Traefone will not send or receive calls from my home



  • Bill Says:
    September 17th, 2013 at 7:52 am

    I cannot get wifi to work in my house. We have two computers which are linked together by a router/modem at one computer and the computers are linked through the power receptacles. I have a aluminum roof. Is there anything that must be done to a computer that relates to programs to enhance wifi? What can I do to have wifi?



  • Grafton Reed Says:
    September 9th, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Why does this continue to be an issue? I”ve solved it in many many 6,000 sq. ft plus homes so they have a rock solid wireless signal virtually everywhere. Not a single black signal area. Even wireless access for the pool area and backyard.
    I can solve all of your wireless woes with one word. Satellites. Hardwire the house with multiple ethernet end points that will join a LAN network. Each router transmits a robust signal across the network. Usually 2 satellites at each end of a large home and one extender router in the center guarantees bliss.
    End of story and end of WiFi problems.



  • Brian Wilson Says:
    November 16th, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Using a power line extender works in lieu of wireless. They make an inexpensive one for the xbox which is also perfect for extending wireless networks. I’m watching Danny on my Google TV made possible by my Xbox powerline extender.


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