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Potomac101 02-06-2008 11:41 AM

phone wiring
I am unable to get a dial tone on a phone that I'm trying to hook up. The wire has been in the wall for years and used to work.

The multimeter shows that electricity is flowing through the pair that I'm using.

I switched phones.

I bypassed the phone jack.

Online I found this:
"Place the negative lead of the voltmeter at ground and the positive lead at the wires or terminals of a telephone jack."

Sure enough, there was an indication of voltage - indicating that the other wire was grounded.

So do I just need to find the jack where the wire is coming from and swap out the wire with the other pair (they did not show any voltage)?

Added note: the phone jack that is not working is only about six inches from a receptacle and above it.

I realize that I can just get a pair of phones - one that plugs into a receptacle and doesn't need a jack - and ignore the problem, but I hate for it to get the better of me.


handyman78 02-06-2008 01:39 PM

Just a thought- If you cannot get a dialtone, is the line open from another phone on that line?

2) I have found in my home where it was better to rewire using new line starting at the demarcation (customer service disconnect) box if you have one- to the new location rather than depend on some older- preinstalled wires. Over time it is possible that other construction, settling etc. could damage older phone wiring in a home. It was not usually placed by any particular code in the past.

goose134 02-06-2008 11:36 PM

Much of the time these are installed with a staple gun. Sometimes the staple can short out or nick the wires in a bad way. You can definitely try another pair from the cable. I don't know what cabling was run for the phone lines (Cat 3?, 5?) so I can't tell you what colors to try. good luck

canadaclub 02-08-2008 06:04 PM

What colours are the wires coming out of the wall P? Usually they are red/green/yellow and black. Some people wire using 4 pair wiring.

Using a multimeter can be deceiving with phone wires because they often pick up inductance.

Easiest way to test a phone line (if you don't have a butt set) is to strip off the :

2 pair wiring (red green yellow black) Strip the red and green to expose copper

4 pair wiring (look for 2 is blue with white stripes, the other is white with blue stripes) ((the others are orange, green and slate coloured))

strip the white and blue wires like the 2pair wire...

Call your number from a cell phone and tap the exposed copper ends together or short them using a screwdriver. You should hear a clicking sound on your cell...if you don't then the line is not connected. DO NOT TOUCH THE BARE COPPER WIRES WHEN THE LINE IS RINGING LEST YE LIKE PERMANENTLY CURLY HAIR!!!

The wires may be disconnected at the demark point as well, but try this first and let us know.


goose134 02-08-2008 11:19 PM


True but hilarious story: buddy of mine was remodeling basement, and running phone wire into existing cabling. He didn't have his strippers and decided to go at with his teeth. AT THAT MOMENT he got a phone call. I'm here to tell you people there is a fine line between comedy and sorrow.

bobo60 02-09-2008 04:25 PM


run a new 4-wire phone wire from your customer interface box, usually located on the outside of the house. all you should need is red and green (typically known as tip and ring), you can leave the yellow and black twisted back in the interface box for future use, e.i. another phone line. run phone wire to jack in house, leave yellow and black twisted back, use a multi-meter to check voltage between red and green at jack in house. should be 48-54 vdc when not ringing. green is usually positive and red negative for phone systems. if its not, you will just get a minus readout, then switch your meter probes around. be careful once you have stripped red and green wires. DONT touch the bare wires with both hands, cause if you have an in comming call, you could get hit by a MUCH higher ac voltage. i beleive the phone rings on about 100 vac...bob

andrewcocke 02-10-2008 10:14 PM

Yea, if the other jacks in the house work, I'd just replace the line.

If a call comes in while you are working with the lines, it does bite, but it wont throw you against the wall or anything. You could just unplug the main phone disconnect (if you have a modern interface box with this feature) and you don't have to worry about being zapped.

bobo60 02-11-2008 12:26 PM


yes, you can unplug the jack from the line comming into the interface, and that will disconnect service to all jacks in the house. thanks for the reminder andrew!...bob

mgarfield 02-11-2008 03:23 PM

If all your other phones/lines are fine and this one is not working there's only a few things worth trying. Inside wiring can go bad anywhere and its cheap to replace. Dont waste hours of your time troubleshooting it.

Make sure both sides of the line, red and green are connected and tight at the termination point, this may be a box outside but in most homes there will be a block in the basement where all the inside lines connect to a single line that goes outside. (from here it can either go to an NID, network interface device, or right to the pole)

If one side of the line is open or loose, you will not have dial tone, but you can still have the voltage on a meter. If at the block or NID, and jack the red and green are properly connected, swap both ends to the yellow black. If it still doesn't work, replace the line. Keep in mind it could also be the jack itself, the pins in the jack are very small and can bend or break, if its been painted it can short out. And it sounds dumb but if the jack was facing up dust could also short it out.

If you have no DT in the entire house, thats a different issue and a few more steps are necessary.

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