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Wifi connection degraded over time

When I fist built my unit OpenEVSE unit back in December 2021, I had no trouble connecting to my router from our carport.  In mid March, I setup an MQTT connection and got a consistent data feed. There was the odd drop out but over time, the wifi connection has gotten worse and worse to the point now where it does not even see my router as an available network the vast majority of the time.

I pulled the unit apart and unstuck the ESP32 board to have a look but don't see any problems.  I tried sticking it back on the side wall instead of the top but no joy.  At first, the OpenEVSE seems to think it is connected to my router (green leds and IP displayed) and my router says it is connected to the Open EVSE (two bars out of four showing).  But I cannot get a web page to load and eventually the OpenEVSE disconnects and goes to access point mode (flashing yellow and solid green).

I realize there may be radio environment changes over time but my crusty old cell phone still connects to my router just fine from the same location and further.
Is there any chance that something is crapping out on the ESP module?  Is there any chance that the data transfers for the MQTT have over taxed the board to overheat it and cause permanent damage?  I doubt it but ???  I just don't get it.  Why has the connection gone from reliable to crap?

If it is just a matter of the radio environment, are there any simple ways to increase the range of the OpenEVSE ESP32 board?  I seem to be right on the edge of reception so it shouldn't take much improvement to make the difference I need.
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