Telephone Wiring Tips
Installing telephone cable is really a treat, especially if you have been running 12 gauge high voltage cable all day. The telephone cable is easy to pull and work with. The only challenge I find is removing the outer insulation which covers and protects the individual wires within the cable. This is where most rookies get into trouble. We will talk about this in a few moments, so be patient.
Modems or Teenagers
The phone companies are being inundated for requests for additional phone lines in residences. The reasons vary, however in most cases it boils down to a computer modem or a teenager who needs a phone connection. Some houses have as many as three or four phone lines, especially those where a person works at home like me!
If you find yourself in this spot and wish to save some money, then I suggest you take care of installing the phone line once the phone company has installed the outside cable and junction device inside your home. Phone cables can be successfully installed by just about anyone.
Two Wires is All it Takes
Most people shy away from phone work because they see all of the multi colored wires at the phone outlet and at the junction box. Relax! Only two wires power your phone, fax machine, or modem. The phone cable that comes from the street into your house either has two wires or contains several pairs of wires. My house has an underground cable which I installed. It happens to contain five pairs of wires or 10 wires in all. As long as all the wires are good, this means I can have five separate phone lines feeding into my house.
Four Pair Minimum for Your Line
If you are getting ready to extend a new cable from your phone junction box or where the phone company installed/terminated your new line, you should use a minimum of 4 or 6 conductor cable. What's that? It is simply a single cable that contains 4 or 6 separate wires. Why waste the other two wires? Well, you may not waste them. You may install another phone at a later date, or, you may have to use one of the wires in case one of the other wires you intended to use is defective.
Older houses often contain 4 conductor "quad" cable. This cable often contains four wires which are solid in color. The wire colors are almost always red, green, yellow, and black. If you decide to use these wires, you will not obtain the highest quality voice or data signal.
Modern phone cable for residential houses contains individual wires that are 22 or 24 gauge in size, band striped for identification purposes, and arranged in twisted pairs. The twisting of the 2 wires around one another enables the quality of the signal to stay at a very high level.
Point A to Point B
Running cables in an existing house can be a challenge. Some people will leave phone wire exposed and run it along baseboard. Phone company installers did this for years. In fact, they had a nifty little staple gun that allowed them to neatly do this task. I would only do this as a last resort. Phone cable is somewhat fragile. It really could use as much protection as possible. Try to run it within walls when possible.
If you are trying to get a cable from one floor to another, or say from the attic to the basement in a ranch house, find the plumbing stack location. Often I have had great success in dropping a nail attached to a string from the attic to the basement right alongside a plumbing stack. The plumbers almost always cut the flooring or plates out with extra room to spare. If you jiggle the string, the nail drops right down into the basement.
Making a Test Outlet
A pair of alligator clips attached to wires that lead to the back of a modular outlet allows you to make a crude copy of those cool little phones you see the phone installer wear on their tool belts. This setup allows you to clip onto the ends of wires within your house or at the phone company termination block to see if you can generate a dial tone. This little setup can be made for less than $8 in most cases and allows you to use a standard phone to test your lines.
Make sure that the alligator clips do not touch one another when in use. If they touch, the line will short out and you will get nothing but static, disconnected, or both.
I like to make the leads on the alligator clips about 16 inches long. The wires leading from the ends of the alligator clips hook up to the green and red wires on the back of the modular outlet. These two wires are almost always traced to the center two wires or conductors of the modular outlets and mini plugs.
When not in use, store this outlet and the alligator clips in a self sealing clear plastic food freezer storage bag. The bag keeps it clean and you can always see the contents!