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Problem with incoming phone calls

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by [email protected], Dec 4, 2006.

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  1. Guest

    I just moved into a new house and have a problem with the phone system.
    We get a dial tone and can make calls, but when someone tries to call
    us they get a ring which then breaks into static; the phone doesn't
    even ring at our house (This happens, by the way, if only one working
    phone is plugged into a jack or even if no phones are plugged into any
    jacks in the house, so it's not a problem with my phone.) I took a
    phone outside and plugged it into the jack at the network interface and
    was able to receive a cell phone call fine, so I'm guessing the problem
    is in the house.

    Last night I opened an access panel in the basement to check the phone
    wiring coming into the house -- quite a tangle of wires! -- and, with
    assistance from various websites on the Internet, was able to finally
    make some sense of all the connections, though the problem wasn't
    immediately apparent.

    I'm hoping someone could tell me what might be causing this. Can a
    problem at one of the jacks cause a problem with the whole system even
    if no phone is plugged into that jack? Or is the problem more likely
    to be with the wires coming into the house? Any ideas?

    Thanks in advance for any insight or suggestions.
  2. jakdedert

    jakdedert Guest

    You've got a corroded wire somewhere shorting the line out when the ring
    voltage is applied. Truth to tell, although you're getting a dial tone,
    and able to dial out, the line probably has some noise on it, right?
    Clicks, pops, static...that kind of thing?

    I've had this happen a few times. The last time, some water got into
    the Customer Interface box on the outside of the house. The proper
    troubleshoot is to unhook the modular phone plug in that box and
    substitute a working telephone. (On the newest boxes, the plug is
    harder to find. You swing out a little terminal board to which the
    lines are connected). If the phone needs to be plugged in to
    electricity, this more complicated. Use a simpler phone, or run an
    extension cord outside.

    In any case, if the phone now rings when you call your number (from a
    cell phone?), the issue is inside the house. One problem I've had is
    forgotten phone jacks getting 'watered' along with the house plants.
    Eventually the contact wires corrode and short out. Replacing the
    offending jack is the only option in that case.

    If you're comfortable doing so, disconnect all but one jack at the box
    outside, and repeat your experiment (calling the number from another
    phone). When the problem reappears, you've isolated the problem. It
    can be tough to trace the wiring from the box to the jack, so it might
    be easier to physically examine each phone jack inside.

  3. Guest

    Guest Guest

    your cellular phone doesnt use the wires in your home. it is completely
    wirelesss through cell antennas scattered around the countryside.

    your private wired local carry around portabe phone (your cell?) that u may
    get perhaps 300 feet from home with is not a "cell"phone.

    if u have a multi terminal commercial phone junction box in your "home", you
    may have a poor connection at one of the wires to terminal joints. they are
    almost always just push-in type. they get loose and you get all sorts of
    troubles. corrosion fron salt air make things worse(if you live near

    & with the phone company crooks tryng to charge you up to $60 buck per
    quarter hour to'diagnose" your problems, i do advise you to be cautious when
    calling them.

    anything you do to complicate the trouble will cost u dearly.

    if you have so many wires as u describe, u have a business connection,

    or you may have an existing DSL or high speed service that is as yet still
    working. a simple dsl filter may be the solution to this problem also. some
    phones will operate very strangley withot a fiolter

    even the phone you use is suspect. try it at a neighbors home. (get to know
    them, they are valuable allies against poor phone service representatives)
  4. Jim Land

    Jim Land Guest

    wrote in
    When you went outdoors and were able to receive a call at the network
    interface, do you mean that you unplugged the house wiring at the
    interface and plugged in your phone? If so, it sure sounds like you have
    a problem with the house wiring.

    A phone jack can go bad after years of use. (A short or intermittant in
    one jack can cause problems on the line.) Try disconnecting one jack at
    a time and testing to see if the problem goes away. (Unscrew the jack
    from the wall, completely disconnect all the wires from the jack.) If
    you find one that makes the problem go away, replace it with a new jack.

    If you've disconnected all the jacks in the house and still have the
    problem, then it's the wiring in the house. If you *really* understand
    the connections at the basement panel, you can try disconnecting the
    various branch circuits to try to localize the problem. (Hint: Draw a
    clear diagram of all the connections before you start!)

    Best of luck.
  5. David

    David Guest

    I had this problem once due to a faulty caller ID device. The ring voltage
    caused it to short out when ringing voltage was present, but it was open
    circuit otherwise. Also be sure there is not an alarm system or something
    else on the line that may not be connected directly to a visible jack. Any
    satellite receiver connected>

  6. jakdedert

    jakdedert Guest

    You might save some time by simply examining each jack (assuming you can
    find them all--not easy, sometimes). I had this problem when an unused
    jack that had been mounted 'hole up' got covered by plants. In the
    process of watering the plants, some water inevitably got into the hole
    and corroded the contacts until the corrosion 'grew' together, causing a
    partial, intermittent short. The phones worked okay--some noise, but
    usable--for dialing out, but the ring voltage was enough to get the
    corrosion to conduct.

    The end result was exactly as the OP described. Note that this sort of
    problem could occur anywhere in the system where moisture is present,
    and bare wires are close together; but is most likely in the jack itself.

    Use a small mirror and a strong light to look into the hole.

  7. In our house, I once traced an intermittent problem to a jack mounted on the
    basement wall. Apparently the moisture had corroded connections enough to
    bridge & short under the right circumstances.

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