How to See If Your Wireless Router Is Working

by Joe Murray

The wireless local access network access point for your home network broadcasts and receives signal in the 2.4-GHz band and the 5-GHz band, which is nearly always a router that combines the attributes of a switch, a local area network and a WLAN. The performance of your wireless router determines whether you can send and receive data packets to and from the Internet and your home network. Therefore it is vital that you understand how to check the performance of your router to determine if it is functioning properly.

Resetting a Malfunctioning Router

Reset your router if you experience sudden signal loss. Unplug your modem if it is separate from your router.

Unplug the CAT-5 or cable line from your modem. Unplug the power input from your router and disconnect the CAT-5 cable from the WLAN input. It is not necessary to disconnect any of the direct connections from the router to network interface cards in desktop computers, laptops or workstations.

Wait at least 10 seconds and reconnect the power to the modem, the signal to the modem, the power to the router and the signal to the router WLAN socket, in that order. Check your laptop to see if the router is working.

Router Placement

Move your router to a higher position if you are experiencing frequent signal outages. Most wireless routers use omnidirectional antennas to send and receive Wi-Fi signals.

Move your router closer to where you use it if you experience slowed upload and download speeds.

Reposition your router to a location nearer the center of your network if the router is several rooms away from where you use your laptop.

Channel Selection

Make sure your router is operating on either channel 1, 4, 6, 8 or 11 if you have a 802.11b or 802.11g laptop wireless Wi-Fi network card. Other Wi-Fi channels are known to experience signal overlap from nearby channels that can significantly reduce both range and signal strength.

Find out or change the router’s channel by going to the router’s IP address which is generally listed near the unit's model number and serial number. The router’s broadcast channel should be listed on the home page under Channel or Specifications.

If you are using an “n” or “a” router in the 5 GHz band, signal overlap in not a factor.

Radio Frequency Interference

Eliminate or mitigate radio frequency interference. RF interference originates from several sources around your home or office. These include microwave ovens, wireless phones, Bluetooth devices, wireless speakers and headphones and even baby monitors. A study by the Farpoint Group discovered that some wireless phones are capable of literally obliterating 100 percent of a wireless signaling capacity.

Move as many of the offending devices as far from the router as possible in order to cut down on RF interference.

Use grounded and insulated power strips for both your router and the appliances creating the interference.


  • Always try resetting the router first if you experience a sudden malfunction. If signal is weak and you experience frequently dropped signal, change the location before trying other solutions.
  • Think of the antenna as a light bulb. If you see the light directly, you should experience good broadcast and reception. If you can see light but not the bulb directly, there may be some signal degradation.


  • Do not try pushing in the “Reset” button on the router unless told to do so by factory support staff.

About the Author

Joe Murray began writing professionally in 1980. As a technical writer, he authored white papers and articles for Hewlett Packard and Intel. Since retiring, Murray has written several home-exchange travel articles for and CHECtravel,com among other outlets. He holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Santa Clara University.

Photo Credits

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