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Telephone Wiring Troubleshooting Tips

Existing Outlets - but Which Wires Work?

Do you have an existing phone outlet location with a mass of tangled wires inside? Which ones work? The wires should be color coded. If you have only one phone line in the house, it should be easy.

Go to the phone line termination board. This is where your inside phone cables meet up with the outside phone line. Look to see which color wires hook up with the phone wire that comes in from the street. This is your first clue. If the same color wires are back at the outlet you are trying to activate, connect them up.

Hopefully you will get a dial tone. If not, go to all the other phone outlets in the house to see if these wires have been connected to the wires in those outlets that you know in fact work. This is often the problem - the wires you need to work are simply disconnected at another phone outlet.

Older Phone Equipment - Can't Break Dial Tone

Are you attempting to connect an older phone? No problem, as many phones will last and last. However, you possibly will hook up the phone outlet and find that you get a dial tone but when you attempt to dial, nothing happens. You have the polarity of the wires reversed. Simply switch the two wires around on the back of the outlet screws and you will solve the problem. This problem lies in the older phone equipment. Newer phones are usually not sensitive to this polarity problem. That is, it makes no difference if the wires are reversed.

Crackling and Static in the Lines

After you hook up your new line, you may experience static or crackling. Guess what, the problem may not be in your phone line! It may be in the phone company wires. To see if the problem is in the phone company wires, connect your test outlet to the wires that come in from the street. If you still hear the crackling and you know the phone does not make this sound when hooked to another phone line, the problem is most likely the phone company's. I had this happen to me when I installed an extra phone line for my computer three years ago.

If the problem is within your house and wiring, it can almost always be traced to locations where bare wires are touching one another. Be absolutely certain that the insulation of the individual conductors has not been pierced where you stripped the outer cable casing off. This is usually where shorts are found. You have to look closely. If you find a short, try to place some electrical tape around the nick in the wire(s).

Try to use new wire for computer lines. Older wiring may give you fits in trying to locate a short. The extra time spent running a new line is well worth it. Your modem transmissions will get garbled with static in the lines.

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