Diagnosis of phone line trouble - alarm system?

During hurrican Frances we lost power for about 36 hours. When power came back the alarm system came back on and it has this blinking "trouble" light. Not sure what that is I called the alarm company, and after they verified my ID, they told me "Sir, you don't have any warranty so we have to send someone out here to check it out. It will be $85 for 30 minutes and $20 for each additional 15 minutes". I told them I have been paying them each and every month for the last 4 years and it does not cover this? He said no, not for equipment problems, he did tell me they are not getting any signal from our system. I said I get mail offering me free alarming system every week, why would I not just discontinue service and just set up a new free one with someone else. He told me I can't. I signed on this alarm system in 2000 with a 2 year contract, so I should be able cancel anytime after I fulfilled the 2 year obligation. He said not so, because after two years if you do not call to cancel, it renews automatically for 2 more years, so now I am on my third contract term that last till Feb 2006, and if I cancel now, I have to pay from now till Feb 2006!!! Something is wrong with this! I can't believe there is such a thing as a self-renewing contract like this. I assumed (yes I know) that after the initial contract term, we are going month by month.
Anyways, I told him I will check it out myself and hung up.
First, the alarm has a back up battery, which apparently ran out during the time I did not have power. It is a small battery. I wonder if I replace it whether it will improve the situation, not sure.
However, it appears the trouble light is related to the phone line. After I spoke to him and hung up, I armed and disarmed the system a few times. Magically the trouble light went off. I went to the phone to call them again, only to find the phone line is dead. Then I remember he told me they are not getting any signal from us, so it must be the phone line. The phone line is dead. I waited a few more minutes, heard a beep at the alarm control panel, and saw the trouble light came back. Picked up the phone, dial tone is back. Made a few calls, hung up, then armed/disarmed the alarm again, trouble light off again, picked up phone - dial tone is gone!
So it seems if I have dial tone, touble light is on and blinking. If I reset the alarm to make the trouble light go away, dial tone is gone.
Puzzled - any idea what might be happening?
Thanks in advance,
O
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Your alarm uses a line cutout jack (RJ-31) to insure it can dial into the station when it gets tripped. So your inability to get a dialtone when it's tripped is normal. It sounds like the storm damaged either a sensor or a wire to a sensor.
Since you don't say what kind of alarm (wired/wireless) you have, I'd start by replacing the dead battery in the control unit, check the batteries in any wireless sensors you have, and see if that clears it up.
As for the self-renewing contract, read it and see if it has such a clause. Didn't you read it before signing it? Since you opted out of the warranty when you signed up, you can't really blame them for not giving you warranty service you didn't want to pay for.
If you can't fix the system yourself, go ahead and let them fix it and send the bill to homeowner's insurance company.
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Thanks.
It is a wired alarm. There is a metal box in my garage, the battery (about 1/4 the size of a car battery) sits inside this box. There are three sensors (one on the front entrance, and two in the two rear entrances), there is a motion sensor in the living room (wired) and it is working (it lit up as I walked by it).
I will change the battery first and see.
I don't remember signing anything. I remember back in 2000 the deal was if I did not fulfil the two year period, I will have to pay back the cost of the equipment and installation (which was waived). I did not see anything about a auto-renewal deal. Also the original company I signed this with was later acquired by a company who was also later acquired. I wonder if I was somehow rowed into this program.
O

batteries
clause.
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The battery in your alarm is a rechargable one, it should recharge itself when power is restored, unless it's gone bad. You can tell if it's bad by how long the alarm remained on without power. If it died quickly, it's bad.
The alarm cuts off all the upstream phones when it makes a call. The curious thing here is that you say the alarm company says its not receiving calls. While it shouldn't matter, I'd wait a day for the battery to recharge, then call the company and tell them you want to test the system. Trip the alarm and see if they get a call. If the don't then it sounds like the modem in the alarm may be shot. Was there lightning? I'd also try disconnecting the battery and removing all power from the unit for a few minutes to completely reset it. I wouldn't waste time fooling around with any sensors, as regardless of what goes on there, the unit should be making calls, so sensors, zones, etc aren't your main problem
I'd also get a copy of your contract with the company. It's normal for monitoring to be seperate from maintenance. However, I wouldn't put up with a 2yr self renewing contract. Worst case, when the 2yrs is up, tell them month to month or you'll toss them and watch how fast they cave.
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If there was any chance of the system failure as a result of lightning caused power surge check your homeowner's policy. Most cover that kind of damage. MLD
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The deductible is probably more than the service call
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Try unplugging all "cordless" phones..take the connectors out of the plate(s) and use only hard line phones while youre troubleshooting this. Also, take a hardline phone to your phone interface box- (usually a grey plastic box outside where the line enters the house.) Open the box and try plugging it into the connector jack inside at that point and see how that works. The outside line (underground) may have water damage (as our neighbor's did) causing the trouble.
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