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How to Fix and Upgrade a Weak WiFi Signal

Home technology expert Ross Trethewey helps a homeowner get stronger WiFi coverage throughout his house by extending the service.

Ross Trethewey helps a homeowner fix his slow WiFi. The family has had problems with their WiFi since they moved in. They cannot stream movies on their television in the basement, and sometimes even emails are slow to send.

Ross sees a ton of similar complaints from other homeowners. Finding the issue can be tricky since you can’t see a WiFi network’s physical problem. Ross demonstrates a step-by-step approach to diagnose a WiFi problem and determine how to fix it. After checking the wiring and the modem location, Ross shows how to check the Internet speed.

He finds that the WiFi signal gets weak in the basement and top floor, but he has a solution. Ross introduces the homeowner to a mesh network, a distributed router system where you place WiFi routers strategically around your house to strengthen the WiFi connectivity and increase coverage. Afterward, the family has a strong WiFi signal throughout their home, allowing them to send emails and stream their favorite home improvement show.

You will need a laptop.

How to upgrade a WiFi signal

Step 1: Check Wiring

  • First, locate the place where the WiFi comes into the building.
  • Check for signal splitters. You’ll want to reduce the amount of signal splitters you have. A splitter is a device used to split a cable signal between two or more devices. The more splitters you have, the worst the signal will be.
  • Follow the wiring to locate the modem router to ensure the WiFi coming into the house is routed directly to the modem. If you can’t determine that the modem is directly wired, you can try a continuity testing kit. A continuity tester is used for testing the electrical continuity between two points.

Step 2: Modem Speed

  • After verifying the wiring in the building and the wiring to the modem are both correct. The next step is to take a look at the modem.
  • Location is an overlooked step when placing a modem in a home. Many people choose to put it in a corner of the house, so it’s out of the way. When the modem is located next to an exterior wall, some of the strongest signals could be sent out to the backyard. The ideal placement is in a centralized location within the structure.
  • Also, consider interference. Things like baby monitors, microwaves, concrete walls, and glass can all cause interference, but the leading cause is other networks. Interference can be a concern if you live in multi-unit dwellings, like an apartment complex. If you are concerned about interference, you can use a WiFi analyzer to see what networks around you are occupying different channels and how strong they are relative to your position.
  • To help with interference, change the WiFi frequency.
  • Look at your modem to find the specs. See how many megabits the modem can handle. Then, find a cable bill to see how much Internet speed you pay for. 100 Mbps is powerful enough to stream videos and make video calls, but you may run into some slowdowns. 200 Mbps is satisfactory for the average home.
  • The speed that you pay for is what the Internet provider guarantees the speed can go “up to”, but it does not define the minimum.

Step 3: Run Speed Tests

  • Run a hardwire speed test. Use a laptop and hardwire directly to the modem using an Ethernet cable. Find a free Internet speed test online. This test will take the WiFi out of the equation and give a baseline reading for the maximum speed the network can produce.
  • Once you have the maximum speed the modem gives you, unplug your laptop and run the test again. Move to different areas of your home to see what the speed is. The farther you move away from the modem, the lower your speed.
  • The homeowner tried getting a WiFi extender for his basement, where he had trouble streaming videos. WiFi extenders can’t boost the speed. He was only expanding the weak signal by putting an extender in the basement.
  • A mesh network could be the solution to inadequate WiFi coverage. A mesh network has multiple access points placed throughout the home to strengthen WiFi connectivity and increase range. It won’t create a new network. Instead, the satellites work together to strengthen the network you already have.
  • Ross always suggests installing a UPS or an uninterruptible power supply. It is a battery backup strip, so the network will still be operational if the power goes out. Ross installed one at the modem and one in the dead spot—the basement.
  • Install one satellite next to the modem. The others can go anywhere where the signal gets weaker. Ross set one up on every floor.
  • Configure the network. Download the mesh network app to name the WiFi network, add a password, and security.
  • Rerun speed tests to test the mesh network.

Resources

Ross installed a mesh network to extend the homeowner’s WIFI coverage. The mesh network doesn’t create a new network. Instead, it works to strengthen the network you have. The technology uses multiple devices to enhance WiFi connectivity and increase coverage. The tri-band mesh network used was eero Pro 6, eero is an Amazon company.

Before installing the eero system, Ross explains the benefits of using a UPS (uninterruptible power supply). This battery backup strip provides up to 6 hours of power and surge protection. Ross chose to use an APC Back-UPS BE600M1, which APC manufactures by Schneider Electric—APC USA


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