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Weather And My Internet

Each year during the wintery season when thunderstorms roll through Amador and Calaveras counties, Volcano Internet techs are preparing themselves by thinking of all the ways in which the weather can affect your internet service. Most of these that we'll be discussing can also affect phone and cable TV service, but since this article is internet related, we'll only touch base on the internet side of things.

LIGHTNING

We know that some of our customers may experience lightning related surges at their homes and will need to bring their damaged modems, routers and associated power supplies into our office for exchange.

Let us start by saying simply that lightning cuts no slack. That is to say that lightning strikes whatever it wants to and goes wherever it wants to. Many of our customers have discovered when lightning strikes, even the best surge protector is no match for the power of lightning. Now, don’t think for a minute that this means that you shouldn’t be using surge protectors - you should, but don’t expect them to protect your equipment from lightning. They’re great for protecting your delicate equipment from the low level electrical surges we have so frequently in this area, but again, lightning is another matter.

The best way to protect your equipment from lightning is to get it unplugged. Not only from the electrical outlets, but your modem/router should be unplugged from the phone line or cable, your phones should be unplugged from the phone lines, your TVs should be unplugged from the cable itself and/or the cable boxes unplugged from the cable at the wall. All this should be done in addition to unplugging from the electricity. You need to be certain that there is no wired connection that leads outside your home. Also, when you unplug from an electrical outlet, be sure to keep the cord a foot or so away from the electrical outlet. A customer once reported that he unplugged his power strip from the outlet on the floor, but the lightning jumped the 1-2 inch gap between the outlet and the plug and it still damaged some of his equipment, including a brand new TV.

We recommend that you mark all of your connections to ensure that you get things connected correctly after the storm. Some people use masking tape and mark it with numbers or letters to ensure they get #1 cord back into the #1 connection, etc. Some people use bread ties or tabs…you know those little twist ties or colored plastic tabs that close every loaf of bread. You'll find the time was well-spent if you mark things while they are properly connected and working.

So, when you hear thunder off in the distance, start unplugging anything you don’t want to replace.

RAIN

Moisture will cause more problems with an internet connection than probably anything other than electrical issues. If water gets into your wiring, it’s going to cause a problem…some obvious and some more subtle. Take a look at the box outside where Volcano’s service connects to your home or other structure. If it’s damaged and not sealing properly, moisture could be getting into the wiring and causing problems. The same goes for the “pedestals” you see around the area. You know, those green metal boxes that are about 6 inches square and a couple of feet high? If you see one that appears to have been damaged, it could be allowing moisture into the lines. Whether it’s on the side of your home or alongside the road, if you think it may be damaged, please report it to us.

If your internet service is delivered via a “Fixed Wireless” connection, (Fixed Wireless means that you’re outside our phone and cable areas and have an antenna on your roof that gets a radio signal from us that delivers your internet - not to be confused with the Wi-Fi you may have in your home provided by your router) the rain poses another internet connectivity issue. Water can and does cause dispersion of the radio signal between the tower supplying your connection and the antenna on your roof. When it’s raining very hard, it’s possible to lose that internet connection altogether.

SUMMERTIME HEAT

Heat is the bane of electronics. When it’s hot the resistance is increased between electronic circuits. This can cause your electronics to shut down or operate erratically. To avoid problems with your internet connection in the heat of the summer, be sure to keep your modem and router out of the sun and in as cool a spot as possible. As previously discussed in the rain section, moisture is also a problem. If you use an evaporative cooler to cool your home, don’t have your electronics directly in front of it as the humidity from the cooler can condense on and inside your electronics and cause shorting and other problems. 

DEEP WINTER COLD

Similarly, extreme cold can cause problems when wiring and components inside your electronics expand and contract with temperature changes. It’s not often we see it, but expansion and contraction can sometimes cause the wiring inside a modem to separate. As with all electronics, keep your modem and router out of the elements and in an area where extremes of temperature can be avoided.

WE’RE HERE TO HELP

These are just a few of the ways the weather can affect your internet service. Regardless if the weather is calm or stormy, if you’re having any kind of problem, please don’t hesitate to call us. The problem may or may not be weather related. Remember, if we don’t know about it, we can’t fix it.