We spoke to Which? Trusted trader, Kevin Mayor from Bushey Aerials in Hertfordshire, who had the following advice for when you're looking for an aerial installer.
Check your signal strength
Before calling an aerial installer, you can check the Digital UK website to find out whether your property is in a strong or weak signal area. The site also displays all of the television companies that serve your area, as well as the channels you can receive at your address. Have a look at your neighbours’ installations too – do they have normal aerials on standard poles or something bigger? This information will give aerial installation engineers an idea of what to expect at your address.
Choosing an aerial installer
Aerial installation is something that people rarely have carried out, so word-of-mouth recommendations can be hard to come by. Instead, find the best local aerial and satellite installers on Which? Trusted Traders or ask other local tradespeople for recommendations. Perhaps your roofer, electrician or handyman knows a reputable aerial engineer.
Nationwide aerial companies are numerous but the quality of their work varies. The benefit of using a local aerial installation contractor is that they’re more likely to know what the reception is like in your area and how to get the best out of it.
As with all trades, it’s a good idea to call three aerial fitters for quotes. Remember that the cheapest isn’t necessarily the best. It would be unwise to pick the wrong installer for the sake of saving £20. A poorly installed aerial can damage a chimney or roof and cheap equipment has a short lifespan.
Read our tips on avoiding cowboy traders and disputes for more advice on hiring a reputable trader. Read on for more detail about hiring an aerial installation expert.
What to ask an aerial installer before they visit
You should not expect to book in the work during the call to an aerial installation specialist. Instead, the purpose of this initial contact should be to speak to a couple of the installers on your list and arrange for a visit to determine the work that’s needed and to get a final price for the job.
You should tell the prospective aerial installers:
- the location of your property
- the type of property – a three-storey town house or bungalow, for example
- whether there’s a chimney
- where the televisions are situated and whether you want more.
You could ask your prospective aerial installers:
- what brand of aerial they would install
- whether 4G filters to filter out possible mobile broadband interference will be included
- whether they’ll be using long-lasting galvanised and welded steel brackets. Cheaper painted, pressed brackets can leave nasty rust streaks on your walls and tend to bend more easily
- what type of cable they use. The best are called WF100 or CT100. Some installers use RG6 which is also ok for domestic installations
- whether they will be replacing all external parts and old cable
- whether they think you will need an amplifier. This is unlikely in a good signal strength area unless your home has three or more televisions. You shouldn’t expect to pay more more than £60 for supply and installation of an amplifier
- whether there is a guarantee. The industry standard tends to be two years for parts and labour
- whether there are any extra costs, such as VAT.
No payment or deposit should need to be made on booking a visit. If the aerial installer gives you a firm price on the phone, you should ask for a follow-up email to confirm. Make sure it lists everything discussed and is marked ‘quote’ rather than ‘estimate’. A quote should be a fixed price for the job, whereas an estimate is not fixed and may change upwards once the job has finished.
The aerial installation
Prepare for the visit by moving any obstructions away from the front of your house, to allow the installer free access. It’s a good idea to look at your tiles and gutters too and take a photograph of the condition they are in before the start of the work. If there is any damage during the installation you will be able to verify it by looking at your photographs.
Your installer should explain where they intend to put the aerial – the wall or chimney is best. Screwing to the eaves should be a last resort. You should also discuss where the cable runs and television socket will go.
When the works are complete, cable runs should be securely clipped to the eaves or wall rather than draped though gutters. Cables that run over the roof should be brown or black and should not be draped diagonally across the roof. The cable should enter the property through a wall – not through a window frame. All holes should be filled with a clear or colour-matched silicone sealant inside and out.
Checking the work
Ask the aerial installer to tune in and demonstrate your television following the work. Check that you have all of the channels on the Digital UK list for your property. Spend five minutes watching a couple of high definition (HD) channels to make sure the picture and sound don’t break up.
If everything works as expected, you can pay the aerial installer. You should get a receipt that details the work carried out and any guarantees for the parts or installation itself that applies