Troubleshooting Your Landline Phone

Knoji reviews products and up-and-coming brands we think you'll love. In certain cases, we may receive a commission from brands mentioned in our guides. Learn more.

Last night your phone worked fine, but today there is static or no tone at all. Before throwing it out the window, there are a few things you can try on your own in the hopes of not having to call your service carrier for an expensive visit. The easiest thing to do is to make sure all phones in the house have been hung up and are in their cradles. If they are, and there is still no dial tone, try these troubleshooting tips:

First, go outside and look for the box about 6 feet up on the side of your home. There should be either a beige or white box in plain sight that has wires running from it into your home. Some boxes simply slide off; others will require a screwdriver to remove them.

Once you have the cover open, take a corded phone that does not need a power pack and look for a phone outlet inside the box. Some boxes only have one outlet, while others may have up to four especially if you have FIOS. The one with four will have one outlet labeled 1 and a test plug. The one labeled 1 is for POTS, or Plain Old Telephone Service, and is the one you want to try first.

Plug your old-timey corded, non-electric phone into the outlet and press the on/off or Talk key. If you get a dial tone, the problem is inside your house, because the signal is making it from the phone company through the pole wire to your home.

Your next step is to go back into the house and unplug every single phone. Try plugging the phone you took outside into each jack to see if you get a dial tone. If you get all but one of the jacks to work, you can figure out which one does not. That phone jack will need to be repaired. If you feel comfortable checking the wiring at the jack yourself, see this diagram. If not, you can still try a few more things.

It is possible that you had a power surge and simply unplugging the power source on each phone for 10 seconds will reboot your power on each phone. Try the phones again. You may have to switch out phone cords as well. If the one jack that didnt work before still doesnt work, you can either check the wiring and replace it yourself, or call your service carrier or an electrician.

If none of these tips work, you probably have a short and have two options at this point: you can plug in the old-timey phone outside again, and call your service carrier, tell them all you have tried, and see if they can check your lines from their center or just request an expensive service call which is usually $90-100 bucks for the first 30 minutes of labor. If you have FIOS, you will need to plug into the outlet labeled test.

11 comments

Jerry Walch
0
Posted on Dec 7, 2011
Guest
Posted on Dec 6, 2011
Sheila Hrabal
0
Posted on Dec 6, 2011
Jerry Walch
0
Posted on Dec 6, 2011
Guest
Posted on Dec 6, 2011
Guest
Posted on Dec 1, 2011
Guest
Posted on Jan 27, 2011
Guest
Posted on Jul 26, 2010
Guest
Posted on Apr 16, 2010
Sheila Hrabal
0
Posted on Feb 11, 2009
Jerry Walch
0
Posted on Feb 11, 2009