Funky phone line problem

Hi, all --
I'm guessing that this is a problem with our phone company (Verizon), but I figured I'd throw this out there in case anyone has had similar ghosts lurking in their homes:
We have one standard phone line; no extras except call waiting. We have a Hot Call box attached to it, with our phone plugged into that.
Last Thursday we had massive electrical storms. The phone line went out while I was on-line between storms. On Friday AM we had no dial tone even at the outdoor box, but after I returned from an errand, lo and behold there was a message on our answering machine and the dial tone was back. I figured that Verizon had fixed us up post-storm, and that was that. Wrong.
On Saturday AM, we lost our dial tone again. We went out an hour later and asked a neighbor two doors down whether she had lost phone either after the storm or that day. No, she hadn't. When we returned home a few hours later, there was still no dial tone, but then suddenly the phone rang, and after hanging up from that call, we again had a dial tone. I believe I was on-line when I lost the connection.
Tonight, the same thing happened. I was on-line and lost my connection. No dial tone again (though you can hear an airy sound in the background). My husband went out to a payphone and called our house. The phone rang, and after answering it and hanging up, bingo -- dial tone again. When the phone has no dial tone, by the way, I believe that outgoing calls cannot be made. I haven't tried it from the phone (just read in an old thread on this newsgroup that you can sometimes call out without a dial tone), but I did unwittingly try to get on-line once without a dial tone, and there was no answer. We are always unable to get a dial tone at the box, too.
Anyway, so I'm wondering if anyone else has had this problem. My husband thinks it's related to being on-line, but I'm on-line a lot, so I'm not convinced that that's not just coincidental. I'll give Verizon a call tomorrow, but I'm afraid that they'll want to see the problem in action, and I'm not quite sure how to reproduce it.
Any thoughts?
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If there's no dial tone at the "outdoor box" where the line enters the home, then it's Verizon's problem...and their expense. They'll do exactly what you did (I assume) ...plug a phone into the outdoor junction box. Better still, call 'em on a cell phone when you can't get a dial tone...they can test that from their office while it's happening".

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Curmudgeon wrote:

And that testing from the office is not fail-proof, and if you know the problem is not yours, then file a complaint with your state corporation commision. I've had my share of fighting and threatening the first-level techs just to get a supervisor on the phone in order to get someone to the house to track down a Verizon-responsible problem.
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Julie wrote:

If you mean by this that you plugged a telephone (without a separate power jack) into the Network Interface box somewhere on the outside of your residence, then you definitely need to call Verizon; it's their problem, in some fashion. Electrical storms can certainly burn out or stress equipment and something may need replacement. Given that you've had problems with more than one piece of *your* equipment, feel free to assume it's a more general problem.
Make sure that you double-check by *opening* the box and plugging into the *internal* jack. There's often a short ~6" dongle attached that goes outside, and it can get loose as well.

Don't worry too much. Their field engineers see this sort of problem *all* the time. No matter what you say, really, they're going to do their own investigation and yes, perhaps, only if they've already been out and you RE-report the problem will they actually do much more than what I outlined above, i.e. what you the customer can do.
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When you say no dial tone do you mean you pick up the phone and do not get dial tone but if you blow into the phone you can hear yourself blowing or when you pickup the phone is it totally dead like it was never plugged into the wall ?
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dial tone but

pickup the phone is

Thanks for your input and insights everyone. I did call Verizon today and they're coming on Thursday, despite the fact that I can't reproduce the problem. The woman I spoke with did confirm that it would be a free service call.
As for various questions: I, ummmm, didn't think to blow into the phone last time we had no dial tone; next time it happens I'll give it a try (as long as the kids aren't watching...). And to answer other questions, yes, I opened the box and plugged directly into the jack inside the box, and still no dial tone. The "airy" sound I'm describing is sort of the sound of a connected line with no one at the other end. It is quite different from the complete lack of sound that happens when the line is completely disconnected.
Other recent weirdness includes the Hot Call box ringing for no reason, and an inability to connect to my ISP at any reasonable speed. I have a dial-up connection and normally I connect at around 45-46k, but today I've been getting speeds anywhere from 9 - 35k. I tried bypassing the Hot Call box and plugging directly into the wall, but that didn't improve the connection speeds I was getting.
Hopefully we'll get it all resolved on Thursday. 24k pretty much stinks. This storm was really quite something -- our well got hit and fried some sort of switch box in the pump in the basement -- so I do suspect it was related. But oddly, the day after the storm after we got the phone back, I was still connecting at decent speeds. The speed thing has only started up during the past few days. My ISP, a group of very honest folks, says they haven't been having issues there.
Thanks again for your help.
Julie
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We had this problem after a storm also. Turned out that water was getting into the NIC (box on the house where phone line comes in). By rectifying this, the problem went away.
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Julie posted for all of us....

What's a hot call box? If you unplug the modem & this hot call box thingie do you get dial tone? Modems blow in electrical storms...
--
Tekkie

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thingie do

A hot call box is a box that rings if there's an incoming call when you're on-line. It's cheaper than getting a second line and requires only call waiting. Thus the telephone and modem are sharing the same line. But I don't get a dial tone on either the phone or the modem (and I'm able to get on-line; at this moment I'm just doing so with a lightning fast 19.2k connection). It's just that every so often the dial tone goes away completely, only to return when some unwitting good samaritan happens to call us. Or when I send my husband 6 miles round trip to the nearest pay phone...
Julie
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Julie wrote:

Hi, If you are talking about dial tone from modem it has volume control or mute on set up string. How many phones in your house? If more than one, unplug all but one and see. Tony
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Example of why no dial tone: the second storm was just enough to cause a driver transistor to short and not enough to burn out that transistor. When that computer is powered on, then it holds phone line 'off-hook'. Dial tone eventually degrades to loud beeping (phone off hook) and then into a disconnected line. Turn off the computer and phone line is released (equivalent to phone places on-hook). This would explain your intermittent loss of dial tone.
Now for the loss in modem speed. Again, this could be due to something inside the house. If inside the house, Verizon will charge to fix it. Better you find that problem right now. As others have suggested, connect directly to the Verizon network inside their NID. IOW run a long telephone wire from your computer directly into that network connection. Do not use any wires inside your house. Now make that modem connection and obsever modem speed. If you get 40K+ on the modem, then you know the problem is created by something inside your house. If you don't get properly modem speed, then you now have something to show the telco repairman.
If is possible that one of the two surge protectors inside the NID has failed shorted. This could cause modem speed reduction. A simple 30 second repair for that telco employee - but only if you give him enough information that he can see the problem immediately. This type of surge protector failure is not obvious which is why you need something (ie modem speed when connected directly into NID) to demonstrate the problem.
After all this, you do want to take a further lesson in effective protection. Destructive surges rarely enter a building through thephone lines. As demonstrated here, the telco installs effective 'whole house' protector inside their Network Interface Device (NID). You need same on other incoming utility lines. Concepts and solutions discussed previously: "RJ-11 line protection?" on 31 Dec 2003 in pdx.computing at http://tinyurl.com/2hl53 "strange problem after power surge/thunderstorm" in comp.dcom.modems on 31 Mar 2003 at http://tinyurl.com/2gumt
Unfortunately my suggestions require some work - both physical and reading. Sorry for the too many solutions.

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Julie wrote:

There's a bad connection somewhere. The 98V ring voltage is enough to "jump" across the connection and restore it for a while, but at some point when you take the phone off hook and the voltage drops to a measly few volts it goes bad again. Sounds like the 48V on-hook voltage isn't enough to "jump" the connection.
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