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Troubleshooting Telephone Problems

Technical Tips

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Many people still have land-based telephones in their homes and they have their share of problems. This guide will walk you through ways to troubleshoot your telephone system for problems before you call the telephone company or their technician.

First you need to know where the trouble lies. The phone company owns and maintains the telephone lines (wires) that bring phone service to your house. Usually, a gray plastic box is mounted to the side of your house that is split into two parts, the customer and utility connections. Although you can access the customer side of the box, the phone company side has a special screw that doesn't allow customers to remove, nor should you. Often, the company places a demarcation jack that is located either in a basement or utility room wall. To this point, it is the phone company's responsibility to provide service at no charge, if there is a problem. However, if the problem lies after this point, you'll be responsible for technical services if you want their technician to fix a problem within your home.

Some telephone problems are easy enough for most anyone to accomplish, while others may require a professional to come in and find the problem. You may want to add a phone jack, replace a broken cover or phone jack, or just fix a broken wire connection, but where do you start your search for the trouble spot? Well in most cases, you want to start at the demarcation jack or the customer side of the exterior incoming telephone junction box. If you plug your telephone in and there is service (a dial tone)without any problems, the problem is inside the home. If you have noise on the line, dead air, or a buzzing sound, it's their problem to fix. At that point, simply call the phone company for repairs. If not, read on.

Telephone lines run on low voltage, but you still need to be careful of electrical shock when working in damp or wet locations. Warning! People with heart problems and especially those with pace makers should not attempt electrical work, not even low voltage repairs! Remember, it only takes a small amount of current to injure or kill someone, so beware.

OK, so you've determined the problem is inside your home, now what? Well, the answer may lie in the chart below.

Telephone Troubleshooting Problems And Solutions

Technical Tips
Problems Causes Fixes
Buzzing sounds on the line. Incorret wiring or wires touching metal. Check for proper wire colors and connections.
Static sound on the line. Phone line wires wet or have loose connections. Check the wires and inside the phone jack covers for signs of moisture.
No sound on the line called dead air. Wire off, wire crossed, or wire is shorted to another. Check phone jacks to see if wires are touching each other. It is often bare wires touching.

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