The most trying time of the year is coming for any antenna installation with months ahead of high winds and heavy rain and taking a good look at the general health of your CB antennas now will save having to do work in the cold and could very well stop any disasters from happening.
Go over as much coax as you can looking for small cuts or splits and patching with a high grade waterproof tape or replacing if the problem is too bad. It only takes a very small break in the outer plastic of coax to let moisture in where it will easily destroy the fine copper shield inside making the antenna less effective.
Running coax straight down from the antenna gives any water inside the chance to do more damage, putting a loop or two of coax cable directly below the antenna prevents water from flowing down the inside (and outside) of the antenna cable.
Connections and Joints
A rusty or waterlogged connection anywhere in the feed from CB radio to antenna is going to throw the SWR (Standing Wave Ratio) of the whole setup out causing a loss of performance on both transmit and receive. Always take apart any connection to check it never relying on how it looks from the outside as an indication of any problems.
To cut down on the amount of times you have to replace a connector during any antennas life outdoors applying a good level of waterproofing is a must. Most tapes will quickly deteriorate when used outside but going for a quality self bonding tape that is properly designed to be used in wet environments will do a good long lasting job. These types of tapes are going to cost a few USD per roll but its certainly worth it for the money and time saved on antenna cable and replacement connectors.
Clamps, Masts and Guy Wires
In very old installations persistent rust can form around the clamps holding the antenna to mast and causing a weak point. Fixing this problem is easy by adjusting the mast so the damaged areas are below the last clamp, if you are not prepared to lose this little bit of height from the antenna you may want to consider replacing the mast all together.
Given enough time (and stress) stabilizing guy wires can slack off introducing extra drag on the antenna and any mast supporting it. Go around the guy wires adjusting each one in turn to give an even pull so as not to drag the antenna off center. Guy wires should always be a backup to the other mechanics keeping the antenna in place and not a main supporting feature.
Even with short length antennas the continuous rocking motion the wind causes can work bolts and screws loose over time and once things start to fall apart it can happen quickly. Take a little bit of time to go over all the fixings tightening them up where needed also noting the integrity of each one and replacing if necessary. Nut locking products don’t perform well when exposed to the elements but they can still add another layer of protection against antenna systems working loose if only for a short time.
Getting into a routine of checking theses problem areas just as the winter is setting in will not only benefit you during the bad weather season but all year round as well along with extending the overall lifespan of any antenna setup.
Storm photo courtesy of Wikipedia (Attribution 3.0 Unported license)