Technology Explained

What Is a Wireless “Dead Zone”? Here’s How to Spot and Fix Them

Simon Batt Updated 19-05-2020

We take Wi-Fi for granted, but it’s not magic—it’s made up of radio waves which solid objects can block and interfere with. Fortunately, there are ways to locate and eradicate dead zones so you can enjoy the internet anywhere in the home.

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Let’s explore why Wi-Fi dead zones exist, and how to solve them.

What Is a Wi-Fi Dead Zone?

A dead zone is simply an area within your house, apartment, office, or any other area that’s supposed to be covered by Wi-Fi. When you try to connect, however, your device registers no signal.

If you take a device into a dead zone, the Wi-Fi will stop working and you won’t receive a signal. For example, if you walk into a room with a phone or tablet, and that room is in a dead zone, you’ll stop getting a Wi-Fi signal.

What Causes Wi-Fi Dead Zones in a House?

Anything that interferes with Wi-Fi radio waves produces a dead zone. If you have a large house or office and have your wireless router in one corner of the building, there may be a dead zone in the opposite corner of the building where the Wi-Fi signal can’t reach.

Most houses were built before Wi-Fi was developed, so the floorplan and building materials may interfere with Wi-Fi. Old houses may have thick plaster walls that contain chicken wire for support, and this metal wiring can block Wi-Fi signals. Large metal objects like filing cabinets or metal walls may also block a Wi-Fi connection.

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Other devices can also interfere with your connection. Old cordless phones create Wi-Fi dead spots while in use, and a microwave oven blocks Wi-Fi signals while running. Baby monitors, wireless security systems, and wireless sound systems have also been known to cause Wi-Fi issues.

If you live in an area dense with other wireless broadcasts, your Wi-Fi coverage may also be hurt by interference. For example, if you lived an apartment block where every unit has its own wireless router, their signals may “fight.”

Similarly, if your nearby neighbors have their Wi-Fi networks configured on the same wireless channel as yours, this may result in interference, reducing your network’s signal strength. This can result in dead zones around your home.

How to Detect Wireless Dead Zones

The inSSIDer app showing Wi-Fi signal strengths

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You don’t need special software to identify dead zones. Just pick up your smartphone or another wireless device, connect to your wireless network, and walk around.

Pay attention to the Wi-Fi signal indicator on your smartphone. If signal strength drops to zero, you’ve found a dead zone.

Even if the Wi-Fi signal only drops to a very low level, be sure to take note of it. Unreliable signal strengths may result in slower speeds or prevent devices from connecting altogether.

Remember that the Wi-Fi indicator doesn’t update immediately, so don’t sprint while holding your phone. Walk slowly and pause in areas where you might conceivably use Wi-Fi.

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Of course, you can also use software to help detect wireless dead zones. On Android, the free Wifi Analyzer app will show you more detailed information about the strength of your Wi-Fi signal.

Open the app, select the Signal meter screen, and pick your Wi-Fi network. Walk around with the app open and you’ll see the signal strength change as you move from location to location.

Apple doesn’t allow third-party apps to access this information on iOS, so iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users can’t use an app for more detailed information—they’ll have to pay attention to their device’s standard Wi-Fi indicator.

If you have a Windows or macOS laptop, you could also use inSSIDer to measure your Wi-Fi signal strength. Be careful while walking around with your laptop and staring at its screen the whole time, however.

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Download: Wifi Analyzer for Android (Free)

Download: inSSIDer for PC | macOS (Free)

How to Fix Wireless Dead Zones in the Home

Now that you’ve figured out exactly where your wireless dead zones are, you’ll probably want to eliminate them. Here are some tips for patching up your Wi-Fi coverage.

Reposition Your Router to a Better Place

If your router is in one corner of your house, apartment, or office, there may be a dead zone in the opposite corner of your building. Try moving the router to a more central location in the middle of your house, apartment, or office.

Adjust or Replace Your Router’s Antenna

Ensure your wireless router’s antenna is up and pointing vertically. If it’s pointing horizontally, you won’t get the same amount of coverage. If your antenna is already at the perfect angle, try attaching a more powerful antenna for a wider broadcast range.

Identify and Reposition Obstructions Between You and the Router

If your Wi-Fi router is sitting next to a metal filing cabinet, that’s going to reduce your signal strength. As such, try rearranging your place for ideal signal strength Wireless Feng Shui: How to Optimize Wi-Fi Reception in Your House Setting up a Wi-Fi router for optimum coverage isn't as easy as you think. Use these tips to cover your whole house with Wi-Fi! Read More .

If there’s a microwave oven, aquarium, or anything else that seems to be obstructing the signal from your router and producing a dead zone, move the obstruction (or your router) and see if that eliminates the dead zone.

Switch to the Least-Congested Wireless Channel

Use the tools we covered above to identify the least congested wireless channel for your Wi-Fi network How to Pick the Best Wi-Fi Channel for Your Router What's the best Wi-Fi channel for your router and how do you change it? We answer these questions and more in this quick guide. Read More . Once you find it, change your router’s channel to it to reduce interference from other wireless networks.

Set Up a Wireless Repeater

If none of the above tips help, you could set up a wireless repeater to extend your coverage over a larger area. This may be essential in large houses or offices.

You can even turn unused routers into a wireless repeater, which is one of many ways to reuse an old router 10 Useful Ways to Reuse an Old Router: Don't Throw It Away! Old router cluttering up your drawers? Instead of throwing it away, here's how to repurpose your old router and save some money. Read More .

Use an Ethernet Connection

You could also get online using Ethernet cables. If your computer and router are close enough, connect the two using Ethernet and never worry about Wi-Fi signals dropping ever again.

Use a Pair of Powerline Adapters

If you’re not so keen on seeing stray cables in the corridor, you can use powerline adapters instead. Plug one into the room with a dead zone, and the other into the room where the router is.

We talked more about what powerline adapters are What Are Powerline Adapters? 9 Things You Need to Know Powerline adapters turn electrical outlets into Ethernet network points. Here's what you should know before using them at home. Read More previously, so be sure to give it a read if you’re interested.

Pushing Your Wi-Fi Strength Further

Wi-Fi dead zones appear due to lots of different reasons. This includes router positioning, your neighbors, what your building’s walls are made out of, the size of your coverage area, the types of electronic devices you have, and your furniture. There is much that can cause problems, but trial and error can help you pin down the culprit.

If you want to make your router’s signal stronger, be sure you know how to boost your Wi-Fi signal and extend its range How to Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal and Extend Wi-Fi Range Wi-Fi signal dropping as you move further from your router? Try these Wi-Fi signal boosting tricks for better connectivity! Read More .

Explore more about: LAN, Network Tips, Wi-Fi.

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  1. Neil
    July 1, 2018 at 10:33 am

    "Most houses were built before Wi-Fi was developed." Yep. My house was built around 1400, before the Tudor dynasty, so I think it qualifies on that front. I find it really hard to find good information on how to site wireless access points when you have a lot of thick stone walls. Is it better to have an external wireless access point on an antenna, on the basis that the ceilings are more easily penetrated by radio? Alternatively, do I need multiple wireless access points inside? Given the number of walls, corners etc, that could mean a big investment. I've been using Devolo 'through the mains' access points up til now, but electrical noise gives me unreliable performance. I think the property has old wiring (probably 1920s), and it would cost a lot to have it all updated. I continue to search...

  2. Alsusia Collins
    June 4, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    My WiFi has always worked in my bedroom with a strong signal; all of a sudden, it won't connect or when it does, it's barely a signal and it doesn't last. No problems in the rest of the house...has this happened to anyone elae? Better yet, does anyone have an answer on how to fix?

    • Smitty
      October 27, 2018 at 3:52 am

      Check to make sure none of the wifi antennas were moved

  3. MIKE SAVIDANT
    May 2, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    Just yesterday I had a dead zone pop up all of a sudden. I had been using my computer in the same spot for weeks but all of a sudden the wireless stopped working. Another computer not 2 feet away was working just fine. We tried multiple computers with no luck. Weirdest thing I've ever see.

  4. M. Sibley
    October 31, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    I have an iPhone and an iPad and have previously had NO problems with either of them in any part of my house. I was also able to use them on my front porch and back yard to check emails, play music and go in the internet. Now, all of a sudden, it's not allowing me to do any of these things in my family room where the router for the television is, or on my third floor in my bedroom, where, previously there hadn't been any problem. Why is this happening? I am extremely frustrated and wondering if this is something that my provider, Verizon, is pulling to want me to sign up for with a program they have to provide coverage for "dead zones" in one's home. Any clues?

  5. scott alexander
    September 17, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    the internet is great in all of my house except for my bedroom upstairs. The other rooms upstairs get lightning speeds yet mine gets ten mbs if im alone, if anyone else is upstairs on the wifi it can reach hoof that. I have a repeater that is helpful but not at all by as much as it should. I get about\out 400 kbps without the booster, however the booster makes my internet cut out every hour. My uncle works for atat even hr he doesn't know what is wrong . i had this problem for a long time so it would be good if you could help me. thanks

  6. Jutta
    June 9, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Oh I live in a super zombie dead zone - way in the country - but the neighbors I do have can get wifi better than me and we all have the same carrier (and house is 8 years old). Chicken wire around the chicken coup 30 feet from the house :) Same with horses and electric fencing. I would like to download the analyzer because I was jealous of the person for whom it actually worked (channel selection) but my wifi is so spotty, it will take hours of waiting and my finger on the install button of the Android... ugh.... I then might have a 15 second window where I can (slowly) load.
    Unfortunately the antenna Christiaan talked about does not work here. I really hoped it would.. And also unfortunate is the fact I have my cell phone extender plugged into router, so my phone goes out too. We have no other option for a provider here (Fairpoint) and I should mention that I work from home relying on this unreliable network. Provider has no suggestions for me.... It is utterly frustrating!
    I do love Robert Ruedisueli's idea of velcroing the router to the wall - or to my head maybe, because the reception changes every few minutes. If anyone has any ideas or further recommendations, please let me know! Good night everyone! Jutta

  7. sl0j0n
    October 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Hello, all.
    You might think it weird,
    but I want to know how to BLOCK ALL wireless radio.
    The earth's natural frequency is overpowered & blocked
    by the higher powered, higher frequencies of various wireless devices. [See "Resonance—Beings of Frequency".]
    TIA
    Have a GREAT day, neighbors!

  8. Andy Crofts
    October 15, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    THanks! That WiFi Analyzer showed my neighbour and I were fighting for ch.11. Moved to Ch. 3 - no-one else there - vast improvement.
    Cheers for the heads-up!

  9. Robert Ruedisueli
    October 15, 2013 at 8:45 am

    You can mount your wifi router on the wall with mounting tape. (If you want to be able to easily move it you can use velcro.

    Additionally, you can use an external high-power addapter on some routers running DD-WRT or OpenWRT in order to gain some real range. (Please note, that an external high-power addapter will set you back as much as a mid-priced repeater.)

  10. Tanya
    October 15, 2013 at 8:29 am

    I only have a dead zone when it comes to iphone 5... other iphones and apple products no problems... so dead zone yes (but I feel it isn't a signal issue).

  11. Christiaan Gombert
    October 15, 2013 at 8:08 am

    How about a windsurfer antenna booster. It cost less then a dollar. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwW26jNWAQE

  12. Rajender Kr
    October 15, 2013 at 6:49 am

    Well For Boosting, I done the same,,,,, extend the ethernet cable to my next wireless router,
    from 1st router i received 1 floor access of wifi signals now using another wifi router i extend my range to entire house. Now using whole wifi house.

  13. Kevin V
    October 15, 2013 at 6:46 am

    Been using a Powerline adapters for about a year. Solved my sketchy wifi coverage and is much more reliable than wifi.

  14. Brandon R
    October 15, 2013 at 1:54 am

    Great article I had a problem with some students who are renting in apartments near my house receiving WiFi from my router which is located in my house, since I had another cheap router I configured it to work as a range extender to extend my wireless signal. I ran a long patch cable from my router to the apartments and placed the second router there.