Hello all - I think this is my first post here, but I am a frequent reader
We are doing some remodeling in our kitchen. To "clean things up" before we
have some tile demo'd, I cut some wires out of an OLD phone connection in
the wall - this is the kind before modular, where the phone cord entered the
plate through a hole and hard-wired into the phone wiring. Although this
was an OLD connection, it was apparently "live" as we now have no dial tone.
I've tried doing some research on phone wiring to see if I can fix this
myself - and haven't seen reference to my situation. There appear to be 6
wires coming into the box - all with solid brown insulation. So - I'm not
sure which ones to join together to reconnect the line. We have only one
active phone line.
Does anyone know how this is supposed to work? I'm not well-equipped with
testers - is there one I could buy to find the active wires?
Thanks for your help.
Check voltage between each possible wire pair, or just touch them together
and watch for a little spark. Those two are the phone in. Short together the
at your non-working phone. Measure the other wires with an ohmmeter till
you find the ones that are shorted. Connect those to the two input wires
you found earlier. Reverse the connection if the touch tones don't work
at the now working phone.
If by removing those connections you lost dial tone to other phone jacks
in the house, one of two things occurred. Either the phone line pair
(two wires) passed through the junction point you disconnected in which
case you need to identify which two wires are the incoming phone line
and which are the feed to the other phone jacks, or you shorted out the
phone line in which case you need to remove the short.
To determine if you have a short, try calling your number from another
phone like a cell phone. If you get a busy signal you likely have a
short since a short will take the phone line "off hook".
If you don't have a short, find an extra short modular phone cable and a
convenient newer phone to use for testing. Cut one end off the modular
cable and strip back the insulation to get the red and green wires at a
reasonable length. Strip the ends of the red and green wires and the
mystery wires at the old phone jack point.
Mark the mystery wires with some masking tape and numbers so you can
keep track of them. Get a piece of paper and write down all the possible
pairings of the mystery wires. Sequentially work through each possible
pair connecting the red and green wires from your test phone and see if
you get dial tone (you can leave it off hook). The polarity of the wires
won't matter for most any modern phone, only quite old phones were
Once you find the incoming phone line mark you will then need to figure
out which of the remaining four wires are the feed to the other phone
jacks. With a phone plugged into one of the other phone jacks you'll
have to experiment connecting the two wires for the incoming phone line
to the various combinations of the remaining wires until you have the
other phone working. Once you have that remote jack working you may find
you need to connect the remaining two wires to the incoming line as well
to activate another remote phone jack.
Phone line voltages are generally safe. Only if the line rings when
you're holding the wires will you get a shock, and even then it's more
annoying than dangerous.
When you have it sorted out be sure to label the connections for future
Red and green are the standard, but someone hooking up a phone is
not compelled to use the standard colors. They would have saved you
some trouble if they had, but they had this 6-brown wire on hand,
and picked two wires and forced it to work. You might be able to
tell by looking at the ends of the wires. Maybe only two of the six
have been "stripped" (had half an inch of insulation removed), or
are otherwise different from the four unused wires, from having been
used in the phone circuit.
Then you have to test which of the two wires is positive and which
is negative, but if you just hook up a phone to them it might work
Really though, you'd be better off replacing the 6-brown with
modern modular-plug wiring.
Or maybe they are just brown. My friend in Teaneck had 3 wires coming
in from the street, all brown. So at the OP's box, he has 3 wires in
and 3 out. There are 6 x 5 = 30 possible pairs that would be hot. I
would find them the hard way. Get from Radio Shack a bag of 10 wires
with alligator clips on the ends, maybe 4$ and useful for loads of
things. Get a phone with red and green; connect red to one of the 6
wires, using the alligator wires; and touch the greeen wire to each of
the 5 remaining brown wires (It probably is easiest to use an
alligator wire for this too), and see if you have a dial tone. If
not, then connect the red to a different brown wire, and touch the
green to each of the remaining 4, etc. until you find the hot wires.
Then connect them both, and see if you can dial with touch tone. If
not, as they say, they're backwards. Reverse them and mark one brown
wire as green, one as red.
** Don't worry, they're not hot enough to hurt you unless you are
standing on a ladder and you fall off.
Then go to a phone in another room; connect the brown/red to one of
the remaining 4 brown wires, using the alligator wire; and while
someone in the other room listens for a dial tone, touch the
green/brown wire to each of the remaining 4. Then change the brown
wire connected to the brown/red wire and touch the remaining three,
etc. until you know which pair is the outgoing pair. Again, see if
you can dial and if not reverse the wires.
Once everything is working, I would slide some heat shring tubing on e
each wire and solder the wires, then slide the heat shrink over the
connection and shrink it. Or maybe there are screw terminals to
connect everything to.
You can also connect the 3rd wires, once you have established which
are the 4 working wires. Maybe the last two are doing something also,
if not for the phone company, for a previous owner.
Go and open the phone interface box where the phone line enters the house
(from the pole or out of the ground) and see which pair they used.
Could be orange and orange with white stripe..then again could be blue and
blue with white stripe..or yellow and black..
Just have a look
Thanks for all of the replies! The spot where these wires are is an old
phone connection - one that I intend to cover up as we retile the kitchen.
All of the current jacks are of the modern type (with real red and green
wires). What I'm looking at are six loose brown wires - no cable or sheath.
I got some good tips here - I'll give it a try this weekend. And, just in
case, I still have an appointment scheduled with the telco!
Given the "hard-wired" aspect of the telephone set that WAS there, it sounds
like the 3-conductor "JK" wire used MANY years ago by The Bell System.
If you carefully strip the insulation from the end of each conductor, that
should expose BOTH the copper conductor AND colored THREAD that indicates the
conductor's color: Red, green and yellow. Connect the two reds together, the
two greens together and the two yellows together. That MAY restore service to
the phone outlets that are beyond that location, assuming the kitchen location
was just one in a LOOP-configuration-wired home. Good luck!
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