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Old 07-31-2012, 09:53 PM   #1
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Toning out a phone wire through the wall


Is there a tone generator/probe or similar tool that will allow me to trace a phone wire through the wall (i.e. hold the probe up to the drywall and detect where the wire is)? I have a normal tone generator and probe set which works fine for the usual process of tracing from the jack to the end of the line. But for the situation I have, I think I need something more than that.

I have a couple of phone jacks in my house that are connected to each other and seem to otherwise be completely isolated from the jacks in the rest of the house. Each only has one cable coming in to it. It seems really unlikely that that cable would just be directly connecting those two jacks, and there are no other loose cables in the boxes that would connect them to the rest of the house. So I assume they're both going somewhere else, that they're connected together and not connected in to everything else. I'm hoping if I can trace that spot (or alternatively trace where the break is), I can fix it.

Any suggestions (including recommendations for a better forum to post this in, if applicable)?

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Old 07-31-2012, 10:14 PM   #2
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Toning out a phone wire through the wall


there is a wire tracer tool, maybe find it at Lowes.
do you possibly have a patch-panel in the basement or attic??
the patch-panel would connect all jacks individually.

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Old 07-31-2012, 10:15 PM   #3
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Toning out a phone wire through the wall


Banana tracer, fox & hound. Been around for ages. Metal Detector also works, unless there are steel studs.
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Old 07-31-2012, 10:36 PM   #4
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Toning out a phone wire through the wall


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there is a wire tracer tool, maybe find it at Lowes.
do you possibly have a patch-panel in the basement or attic??
the patch-panel would connect all jacks individually.
No basement, and I can't find anything in the attic. I'm wondering if maybe the junction is in the wall shoved behind the box in one of the existing jacks or something. I'd rather spend a bit of money on a tool to trace it than rip all those boxes out and look behind them, etc.
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Old 07-31-2012, 10:44 PM   #5
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Toning out a phone wire through the wall


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Banana tracer, fox & hound. Been around for ages. Metal Detector also works, unless there are steel studs.
Thanks. The Fox & Hound manual does claim it can do this (despite some reviews online saying it didn't work), so I guess I'll give it a go. Is "banana tracer" just a nickname for the Fox & Hound, or is that something different? I wasn't able to turn up anything useful on that from a Google search.

I don't think the metal detector would be very effective, because there are all sorts of other cables going around in the walls; I need to trace a very specific one.
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:59 AM   #6
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Toning out a phone wire through the wall


Phone lines? Wire?

Wireless?
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Old 08-01-2012, 08:34 AM   #7
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Toning out a phone wire through the wall


Depending on when it was built, usually it would be just one long run going from jack to jack, and only exit points are the jacks, and the NID outside. If the walls had been redone, yes there could be a bundle hidden somewhere.
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Old 08-01-2012, 10:31 AM   #8
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Toning out a phone wire through the wall


Sorry for my less than helful post above....but a lot has changed with phone lines.

In most cases, if your house is more than 10-15 years old, the phone line used was the older style 4 conductor twisted pair....fine for phones...useless for anything else. Most phone systems going to houses now are DSL or fiber...hence, you get your internet over the phone line....and if it's good enough...tv.

Personally...if your trying to get some more hardlines installed...think long term....abandon those old lines...install Cat6 (or 5E). Even if you don't use it for Ethernet, the stuff makes great phone line.
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Old 08-01-2012, 11:00 AM   #9
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Toning out a phone wire through the wall


I actually do have cat6 throughout the house, but since it was a retrofit (meaning, major PITA and drywall carnage to pull cable), I didn't re-pull runs to places that had existing POTS jacks and didn't need hardwired data service (e.g. the kitchen counter). The house has a mix of 4 conductor wire and some cat3 that I presume was added later. There are three cables at the NID: one that connects to all of the original (4 conductor) jacks (except the two that don't work), one that connects to the cat3 jacks and one that goes to my structured wiring enclosure where I can patch it in with any of the cat6 I added. I bridge all of those at the NID. When I put tone on the two jacks that don't work, I get tone at the other one, but nothing on any of the wires at the NID, nor at any of the other jacks in the house as far as I can tell (though the tone generator and probe I currently have doesn't do a good job of picking up the tone unless it's actually touching the wire or connector, so if it's buried in the wall somewhere, I probably wouldn't know).

So, I'm not trying to add jacks, and I have about 20 different places throughout the house that I have or could easily have phone service. Unfortunately, one of the few places where I actually DO want phone service has one of these apparently "orphaned" jacks that doesn't appear to connect to the rest of the system. I expected something like gregzoll describes, where it's run from jack-to-jack, but both of these seem to have only one pair connected, with nothing going outbound to connect to the next jack, so I don't know what the person who wired it did.

Obviously, I should have tested all these jacks before running my cat6, so I could have pulled new runs to them. But now the cable pulling is done, the walls are patched, re-textured and painted, and I'm not looking to do that again. I can live without phone service at these jacks (I would sooner do that than cut up the walls again to pull new cable to them), but if I can figure it out, I'd like to. If nothing else, it's an interesting puzzle.
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Old 08-01-2012, 11:08 AM   #10
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Toning out a phone wire through the wall


If it is just going to be phone, use cordless base with remote phonesets.
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Old 08-01-2012, 11:24 AM   #11
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Toning out a phone wire through the wall


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If it is just going to be phone, use cordless base with remote phonesets.
That's what I have set up now. Ideally I would like to have the base in one of the locations that currently has no service, though. Like I said, yes, I can easily live without this. But it's a puzzle I'd like to solve if I can. And really, it just offends my sense of order to have jacks that are apparently not connected to anything. It's going to drive me nuts for the next 10 years if I don't figure out the problem
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Old 08-01-2012, 12:53 PM   #12
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Toning out a phone wire through the wall


Unfortunately it's entirely possible that you do indeed have two jacks connected only to each other. Some folks did that for intercoms occasionally. Though I'd think it would be more than 2.

Can you get a line to the second one and back feed the one you want?
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:24 PM   #13
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Can you get a line to the second one and back feed the one you want?
Yeah, it's possible I could get a line to one of them. But it might cross the threshold for how much trouble I'm willing to go to to get this working. I'm much more willing to spend money on tools than cut holes in the wall, because I hate patching drywall
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Old 08-01-2012, 02:02 PM   #14
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Toning out a phone wire through the wall


Well I get that.
I have a fluke set that won't do it. And a test-um set that will occasionally if the line happens to be touching the wall and I happen to get really close and the batteries are new and...
Well you get the drift.

Good luck.

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