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Old 02-12-2010, 01:06 PM   #1
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Phone wire repair - safety


My father in law had his phone line knocked down by a tree limb during the recent snow. Phone company can't get to it until after Feb 19th. Both ends of the wire are laying in his back yard, so I was going to go out and spice it back together.

He told me that it's a hot line (48v). Is that right? I've never been zapped by a phone line (I know it can get you when it rings). FYI it's an old house and old style phone wire (not Blk Yel Red Grn).

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Old 02-12-2010, 01:34 PM   #2
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Phone wire repair - safety


I don't remember the voltage so you might want to measure it before messing around. I have been stung a few times messing around with where the wire connects to service.

Since it is a phone company supply line, I would be more worried about them claiming you shorted something and damaged their equipment than anything else. They might refuse to fix or replace it at their cost if you mess around with it. They are responsible for providing service to your house though I think.

There is probably a quick splice solution but doubt if it will be available retail. You might just stop by and chat with one of the repair guys you see working? They might hand you something to get you by or tell you how to approach this.

I have used little gel splicers like technicians and installers use to add phone line inside the house. You don't have to strip the wire. Just cram the wire in and compress the things with pliers. The gel seals around where the crimps get the wire. I got them at Radio Shack as I remember.

Is this a lifeline situation for your father-in-law and family? No cell phone service either? Make sure the phone company knows so if it is and he might get moved up the list.

Must be a real zoo for the phone guys out your way. I bet they are being encouraged to go 24/7 until they start falling off the poles from fatigue and lack of sleep?

Storms like you have had certainly make a good argument for getting some of the wired infrastructure underground hugh?


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Old 02-12-2010, 02:05 PM   #3
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Phone wire repair - safety


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I would be more worried about them claiming you shorted something and damaged their equipment than anything else. They might refuse to fix or replace it at their cost if you mess around with it.
Great point, I might have to think this over a little more before I do anything.

He has my cell phone right now, but I might as well have handed him Capt Kirks "space communicator". And yes, underground service would be nice! Not sure if Chicago is the same, but much of the DC city infrastructure belongs in a museum. The phone wire coming into my house looks like #14. There are so many splices and patches that birds are ashamed to perch next to the "wire nest" up on the pole.
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Old 02-12-2010, 02:15 PM   #4
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Phone wire repair - safety


I had everything buried when new service feed went in
Notified the phone company & Comcast a month before it happened
We were switching to Verizon FIOS

Neither one came out
Notified them again after completion...still nothing
Cut/disconnected the wires from the pole
And that wasn't even during the winter with storms - middle of summer

I guess it depends upon how urgent he needs a phone
Wife's great grandmother would be lost trying to use a cell phone
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Old 02-12-2010, 03:37 PM   #5
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Not sure if Chicago is the same, but much of the DC city infrastructure belongs in a museum.
Chicago is a mixed bag. Much of the City was built over a lower drive where ink trucks used to fill the tanks for the major papers, delivery trucks do there thing to this day, and I suppose one could still pull a car into the elevator of the jewelers building and be carried up securely to the higher floors. Billy Goats, of SNL "hamburger, hamburger, cheeseburger, fries fame hides under Michigan Avenue as does an entire culture of strange people. Chicago also has a closed off tunnel system that I guess has been used for some phone and fibreoptic infrastructure but I am not sure. The older hoods are like where you are.

I think my fave example of failing infrastructure is Manhattan. I wonder how many more pets, horses and people need to be electrocuted on the grids over the subway before they do something about them. The wires come in contact with the grates and if you are not wearing rubber soled shoes? Kiss the World goodbye. The subway system itself has to be close to collapse in places.

Of course nobody wants to pay for macroengineering projects and infrastructure repairs. Nothing glamorous about it.

Oh well. Apply the squeaky wheel strategy with the phone company and with regard to your father in law. Do scream that it is lifeline service for him or something.
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Old 02-12-2010, 07:46 PM   #6
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Phone wire repair - safety


If you are ABSOLUTLY certain that it is telephone then you can put it together with just about anything temporarly.48 volts D.C.would be the maximum and that is only when it is ringing.Might give you a good tingle. Is the phone touch-tone or dial? Touch-tone might be polarity sensitive.Look for a tracer ridge on each end of the wire.The wire itself is 16awg.

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Old 02-12-2010, 07:55 PM   #7
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Repairing it will not damage telco equipment.If the main cable is damaged between your Dad-in law's house and the office then fixing your service is moot.But telephone will work if it is jusy lying on the ground intact.
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Old 02-12-2010, 09:22 PM   #8
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Voltages that are less than 70 volts are not considered to be hazardous and do not fall under the electrical safety code here in Ontario, Canada.
That was a consideration, when common battery telephones were put into service! ( phones used to have individual battery's, but now use the battery in the central office)
The only danger from the phone line would be if you stand in water with your bare feet and place the wire in your mouth! Well, there is another! If you happen to have it wrapped around your neck and then fall off the ladder, it could be fatal.
As far as damaging the teleco equipment is concerned, its designed in such a manner that external faults won't cause damage. Telephone lines are always having damage happening to them. People dig into them with shovels, lightning hits them, water leaks into them and so on!
Most outside telephone cables just have two conductors and as long as party line ringing isn't an issue, it won't matter which one is connected to what!
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Old 02-12-2010, 10:07 PM   #9
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Phone wire repair - safety


The only time you will get any shock from a phone line is if you are holding it when it rings. At that point it has 110 volts on it. It still won''t kill you . It doesn't have enough current.
Go out and splice it together. I have sen it done before when trees take down phone lines. The phone company will need to replace the cable anyway.
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Old 02-12-2010, 10:34 PM   #10
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The only time you will get any shock from a phone line is if you are holding it when it rings. At that point it has 110 volts on it. It still won''t kill you . It doesn't have enough current.
Go out and splice it together. I have sen it done before when trees take down phone lines. The phone company will need to replace the cable anyway.
remember it only takes around one millionth of an amp to stop your heart,its all about timing.
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Old 02-13-2010, 12:15 AM   #11
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Phone wire repair - safety


Don't touch it.

You don't want to pay for the damage that could be caused if you slip and short it out.
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Old 02-13-2010, 12:39 AM   #12
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Phone wire repair - safety


After over 30 years working construction and maintenance for the phone company I will say you can safely splice a telephone cable or wire even in the rain or standing in a puddle in bare feet(although I was wearing rubber boots with holes in them).Shorting the wires will cause NO damage to the equipment in the office.If I had a dollar for every tingle I've gotten from a phone line! Just realize you are doing a temporary fix and don't try to hide it from the telco, they have the parts to do the repair properly. We get a chuckle from some of the repairs we see. And don't work on anything bigger than your service wire .
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Old 02-13-2010, 12:43 AM   #13
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Phone wire repair - safety


Splice it, the worst you can do is have it still be broken. You aren't going to break the telco equipment, that stuff is pretty robust.
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Old 02-13-2010, 11:20 AM   #14
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You can splice it. Just do one wire at a time and you'll be fine. IF someone happens to call while you have your hands on both wires, the ring voltage is 90 volts AC at 20 cycles and will give you a bit of a jolt. Just do one wire at a time and work quickly. You're not going to break anything by splicing it back together.
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Old 02-13-2010, 03:35 PM   #15
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Phone wire repair - safety


Can't think how you could damage equipment? I've cut through my share of phone lines and never shorted telco eq. I've sparked about a-hundred phone wires playing with them. I'm not sure I would hook a blue wire in the bundle to an orange one just to see what would happen--I think you can avoid that. Use the pinched gel caps as suggested, or the little clear buttons with the red centers. You should be able to get them at radio shack or home depot/lowes. I love to laugh in the face of the phone Giants by doing the work only they can supposedly do...muh-hah-Hah-HAH-HAAAH! It feels like...INDEPENDENCE!

PS. If you knock out a switching station, don't tell them you read this here!

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