Getting Telephone Lines Working

Page 1 of 2  
Only one telephone line in my house is working. Previously another line worked intermittently. The remainder of telephone connections are not working. Could someone give me an idea of what to look for and how to fix the lines? Several people have told me that working with telephone lines is comparatively easy. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks,
JD
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Chances are there are one or more bad connections at one or more of the telephone connections points. Often just unscrewing the cover and looking will make it easy to see what is wrong, like a loose wire. It may be at one or more of the non-working plugs or at one of the working ones or at the terminal block where the line first comes into your home (more recently these will be outside your home).
--
Joseph Meehan

Dia duit
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@spamgourmet.com wrote:

You need to clarify what the problem is. Is it one phone outlet that works, but not others on the same line? Or do you have two seperate phone lines coming into the house, with one working and the other not working?
Basicly, you need to start at whatever point is working. Take off the cover and find the two wires that work. Those same two color wires are usually daisy chained to the next outlet. Sometimes they could be in a star configuration, with a run back to a common point, like the basement. You need to trace this out, figure where the wires run and find where the break or bad connection is. The other alternative is to run a new wire, which in some cases can be quite easy. These wires are usually run in basement or attic areas, so that's where to look. There are some simple test instruments you can get at HD or Radio Shack that can help.
I'd also take a min to think if anything happened that you can think of that could have contributed to this. Like any construction work, repair work, flooding, etc? That might give you a place to look.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
http://groups.google.com/group/alt.home.repair/browse_frm/thread/38275118a6cf823b/fd937f2f5cd8b92c?lnk=st&q=telephone&rnum=1&hl=en#fd937f2f5cd8b92c
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I read some of the replies and they sound like good places to start but I would also try to call that phone number and see what happens. Every member of my family works for the local telephone company and sometimes things happen like they accidentaly use your pair (or your phone number) while they are working on someone else phone line. You wouldnt beleive the things that can hapen up on a pole. If it doesnt ring a simple call to the phone company and they can tell you excatly what the deal is. They can tell you if the problem is outside or inside. If it is outside, it is their problem, not yours and they can fix it. If it is inside, and you have he repair plan, it is free for them to come and look at it, or you could then start to mees around with it yourself. It could save you a lot of time.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
If one line works the others should work unless we are talking about a another line with a different phone number.
That being said if there is one phone that works and the other phones are just extensions to that one phone, something is disrupting service, something chewed through the lines, or is there a answer machine screwing up, or a telephone is defective
I would assume that the service in your house is modular so unplug the phone that works and plug it into the outlets that are not working and see what you have. Unplug all the other lines and check each line with the phone that you know that work.
Its similar to a set of Xmas lights something is stopping your signal to the other extensions.
Tom

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 2 Mar 2006 04:18:07 -0800, " snipped-for-privacy@spamgourmet.com"

Did they used to work?

You're getting good advice, and phone lines usually are easy. Frankly I don' think this story will have anytyhing to do with your situation. But I wanted to tell the people here about it, and this seems like a good place to do so..
My friend has one phone line and four phones (in four locations.) Two or three of them stopped working, and after he fiddled a little they all stopped working. I tried to help. There was no dial tone at the first junction box where the wires come in from the telephone pole, so we disconnected all the lines in the basement (where the wires come into the house) then reconnected them one at a time. The first two worked fine, but the third and fourth wouldn't work, even though this time they didn't interfere with the first two. So it appeared that a wire to each of the two extensiions was open.
I had to go home and he worked on it a bit, and a couple days later called the phone company, prepared to pay the 92 dollars for the first half hour, and 47 for each half hour after that (I think that is the price).
It took the guy an hour and a half. He had to open the wallpaper in the kitchen (and maybe the wall?) and he said the problem was caused by a power surge. (AC or in the phone line? In the phone line I guess.) and even though the problem was in the house, he didn't charge them anything!
And somehow, what he did in the kitchen fixed the bedroom, even though the two only connected in the basement.
How could a phone line surge create an open in the wire, without burning out the two other phones in the house that remained connected.? I didn't think a phone line surge could be that big at all!
Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let me know if you have posted also.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Do you know that incoming phone lines have effective 'whole house' surge protectors installed for free at the service entrance? If a surge damaged that wire, then the problem was not yet solved. Either that 'whole house' protector was defective OR the building did not provide that protector (and all other incoming utility wires) with a single point earthing electrode less than 10 feet away.
If a surge opened those wires, then that was only a symptom. The solution was to eliminate the failure that permitted a surge on that phone line.
More often, defective interior phone lines are due to stray nails, rodent, or due to a defective installation.
mm wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I have no idea if they have surge protectors at all. I didnt' see anything unusuall in the basement. My own phone installation is newer and thus cleaner and other than a ground, it has nothing, afaict.
I'll go back and look at his. Maybe the repairman installed something so it won't happen again?

They hadn't changed anything in a decade, and don't have rodents.
mm

Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let me know if you have posted also.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
mm wrote:
[snip]

A 'phone line surge' can be anything up to and including a lightning strike!
If the surge came in from outside, your friend may want to get the surge protector checked or replaced. They can be like a fuse; take the bulk of the hit, and get knocked out.
Around here, the SP is telco equipment; they should be willing to check it out if you suspect it may have taken a hit...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

I see what you mean.
I don't think he (or I) realize there is a surge protector. 8-(

Since the telco guy is the one who said the open had been caused by a surge, I would think he would have checked it out., I'll bring it up with my friend, but he didnt' say anything about it. It certainly would have been easier to look at it when he was already there.
What does this SP look like?
Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let me know if you have posted also.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
mm wrote:

It's one of those things you never need to think about. They do their job quietly in the background.
Then again, maybe they're not required equipment in your area. I know they're mandatory around here.
If your 'surge' was really a short inside the house that fried the wire, the SP won't have been affected; they protect against *overvoltage* coming in from outside. They don't limit current in any way.
In our area, newer homes have what's called a NID box - a grey telco box outside the house for the tech to work in. That's where the SP is located.
For houses without a NID, try to find where the phone line enters the house; the SP will be inside, near where the line comes in. There will be more than one if the house has more than one phone line; phone lines can't share a SP.
Generally they're mounted near the electrical panel or up in the floor joists; look for a ceramic or plastic device with some brass nuts tightened onto threaded posts.
You'll see phone wires connected to the posts, and, if you look closer, you'll see the outside phone cable connected to it as well.
You can't tell the condition of a surge protector by visual inspection. (unless it's melted :)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

I looked at w_tom's picture, and by golly he does have one of those. If it has served its purpose and the guy replaced it, I don't know. I"ll look at it next time I'm there.
It turns out there was some sort of junction box for the phone, in the kitchen wall, under the wall paper, that they didn't know about. The phone man found it and did something, but only my friend's wife was home, and I don't think she knows what he did or exactly what it looked like, and she's put the wall paper back already
Thanks to you and w_tom and everyone.
Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let me know if you have posted also.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The picture is the pre-1985 protector that all phone lines had. It would be replaced firstmost because 'the carbons' are considered obsolete. Not pictured were NIDs which contain a semiconductor type protector and is located where telco wires met household wires. That NID must be installed and properly earthed for effective phone line protection.
Normal mode for protectors is no failure. They routinely earth transients without a human ever knowing the transient even existed. Look again at that 'carbons' protectors. Note the heavier green wire that connects to earth. What that wire connects to - not the protector - is the protection. A protector simply makes a temporary connection to earth only during a potentially destructive transient, as Jim Redelfs describes.
However protectors can eventually fail. Jim describes noise when it fails. Semiconductor type protectors inside NIDs are even better at reporting failure. They tend to leave a phone line out - earthed - until replaced by service.
This is the point. Protectors do not protect by failing. An effective protector earths destrucitve transients before those transients can enter a building - and protector remains effective. Grossly undersized protectors (such as plug-in power strip protectors) fail so that you will promote and buy more of their ineffective and grossly overpriced products. Effective protectors are made obvious by that earthing wire - typically 10 feet or less - that diverts surges to earth. Notice that a plug-in protector has no such earthing wire. Those who sell ineffective plug-in protectors hope you never learn about existing and more effective phone line protectors because - well, profits on their ineffective products are just too large to be honest.
mm wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Email copy to my friend.

He definitely has a pre-85 house.
So do I, but I got an outside-of the house NID about 10 years ago.

Thanks. I got that idea from someone, who was probably trying to fit with my story.
I'm sure my friend will appreciate all your help.

Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let me know if you have posted also.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Long before computers existed in homes, all homes had some form of surge protection (which those promoting ineffective plug-in protector hope you never learn). An example of a protector before NID (Network Interface Device) were standard:
http://www.inwap.com/inwap/chez/Phoneline.jpg
Surges are too often promoted as a reason for damage even by many electrical technicians who never were taught the underlying concepts. Even cable companies are only just beginning to teach their installers how to provide surge protection. In this case, the protection is provided without any surge protectors that would only degrade cable service.
Meanwhile, three possible reasons for that wire failure were provided. Surges are so far down the list as to not even be considered until all other and more frequent reasons are eliminated.
A rodent can do damage years ago and that damage only starts appearing today. Without details from a physical inspection, no one can accurately say what did or did not cause the problem. But if it was a surge, then the protectors need replacing or upgrading.
Examples of a product installed in what is also the current technology 'whole house' protector for phone line: http://www.alarmsuperstore.com/bw/bw%20connectors.htm http://www.basshome.com/product_3676_detailed.htm http://www.basshome.com/product_4680_detailed.htm
Again, what those who promote mythical protection in plug-in devices hope you never learn about.
mm wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I have been reading this thread with particular interest. For the last 27 of my 33 years with the local telco, I have been performing EXACTLY this type of trouble shooting and repair.
The image to which you linked (above) is a classic example of a single-pair, Western Electric protector, circa 1940 to about the mid-1990s.
All telephone lines (circuits) are required to be protected by such a device. Until the early 1990s, these protectors were no more than a small block of carbon. Now they are some sort of gas-filled device.
A protector performs exactly OPPOSITE of a fuse. IOW, it is normally open. When hit with a large surge (and it has to be a BIG one), the protector closes to ground. When this occurs, the line is NOT silent. It will usually be so noisy that one can barely hold the receiver to their ear. (A hard-grounded pair is so noisy that it is unusable.)
There are two types of inside wiring: Home-run (star config) and looped.
Beginning in the 1960s through the 1990s, and even still done today by some wiremen, most homes were wired using the loop concept. That is, a single run of cable is "looped through" each outlet location where the jack (connecting block) is connected. The wire, of course, begins where the phone service enters the home. Then there is a "dead end" at the far end of the house. All jacks in-between are simply tapped-onto the pair at each location. In a more general sense, the wiring is done in SERIES. If one were to remove a jack in the middle of this arrangement, but not splice-through the wires, all jacks beyond this point would be dead. I suspect this is what is causing the original poster's problem.
The star or "home run" config is similar to a modern LAN with a hub: The protector is the hub and, from there, multiple cables "fan out" with a dedicated cable running to EACH location. This is the preferred method of telephone station wiring now and has been for about a decade or so. I am, however, still encountering new construction where the electrician is still "looping" the house instead.
If the original poster still has usable phone service, he should call his provider and subscribe to their inside wire maintenance plan. Once in place (wait a week or so following the order due date), he can call-in a trouble report with confidence that, no matter WHERE the trouble is, there will be NO extra charge for the repair.
Telephony is the Rodney Dangerfield of the utility world: It gets NO respect at all. Because dial tone is -48VDC, it is afforded little caution or care when handled by most others than telco technicians. However, all the basic tenets of electrical wiring apply: All connections must be tight, dry and insulated from other conductors or ground.
In the business we have a popular acronym: ETIR. "Every Time It Rains". Moisture is an enemy to telephone service. Weather-exposed connections, NID (Network Interface Device) boxes left open in the rain and snow, motor vehicle-smashed boxes and jacks on exterior, below-grade walls are common places to look for moisture-damaged connectors. Get down on your hands and knees and, with a little flashlight, look DIRECTLY into the jack. It should be clean and BRIGHT brass. Not dusty, cruddy and green - all of which can cause static, particularly when the humidity is high or it has been raining a lot lately.
Basic telephony is EASY: It's a pair of copper wires. That's it. ...and it's a technology that was introduced in the 1890s - still going strong today.
Good luck! -- :) JR Network Technician Qwest Omaha
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
If the original poster still has usable phone service, he should call his provider and subscribe to their inside wire maintenance plan. Once in place (wait a week or so following the order due date), he can call-in a trouble report with confidence that, no matter WHERE the trouble is, there will be NO extra charge for the repair.
JR
I am the original poster, and I stopped following this post. I just read your comments today, and I am wondering, in your experience, is it really that easy to subscribe to a line protection plan, and then get the phone company to fix the lines. The phone company that I am dealing with is Cincinnati Bell.
Thanks,
JD
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Yes. The business model reveals that, once subscribed to, most customers will CONTINUE the coverage. They telco makes money on the deal in most cases.

I assume their practices have not changed THAT much since my company, and yours, were part of the same, eeeevil monopoly that was broken-up in 1984.
Just order the inside wire maintenance plan as suggested. You would do well to avoid revealing your intentions to the order taker. At least it would just confuse them.
While doing what I recommend may be a little unethical, it certainly isn't unprecedented. If, under the coverage of the plan, they do a good job, keep the coverage. Sure, it makes the telco money but it could SAVE you some serious $$ in the future.
I can't count the number of customers WITHOUT the coverage that I have charged an $85 T.I.C. (Trouble Isolation Charge) to simply determine and inform them that there is no trouble in our facility.
--
:)
JR

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Jim Redelfs wrote:

Are you sure the contract doesn't have some clause excluding problems that are determined to be "old" within a certain period (like a year).
The plan is generally a rip off for most people. Although I am sure it happens, probably more in some areas than others, I have never heard of a person have a problem in their house wiring that they didn't cause. But even at that, any reasonably handy man can repair a cut or even install complete telephone wiring. It still amazes me that some 16 percent or more of telephone users still rent their phones. You could buy a telephone every year or two with what the rent costs.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.