Phone Doesn’t Work

Problem: Phone doesn’t operate, emits excessive noise or rapid busy signal.

Background: Problems can stem from your phone set, the wiring in side your home, or in outside lines and switching equipment. A rapid busy signal means all phone circuits are busy; try your call again in a few minutes. Noise on phone may be caused by weather, aerial satellites, poor grounding, or other temporary conditions. (If the noise persists, the tips below may help you identify the problem.) Interference may also come from citizens band (CB) radios and AM/FM broadcast stations. In stalling a modular filter, available through stores that sell phone equipment, may help. Cordless phones (see Cordless Phone Defective) use radio frequencies and may receive interference from radio transmitters. If so, contact the cordless phone supplier or manufacturer for help.

What to do: First make sure all phones are hung up. If you have only one phone, take it to another home and plug it in. If it doesn’t work there, the problem is likely in the phone. If you have two or more phones, unplug them all. Then try each one—one at a time—in each phone jack. If a phone doesn’t work anywhere, the problem is most likely in that phone. If none work in one jack, the problem is with the jack. You might also borrow a friend’s phone and try it in each of your jacks. If it doesn’t work in one jack, that jack is the problem. If it doesn’t work in any jack, the problem may be in the line.
(Note: If you have installed new phone wire or jacks, you can test the installation by plugging a phone into the jack and listening for a dial tone. You should be able to interrupt the dial tone by dialing any single number other than 0. If the dial tone is not interrupted, reverse the wires at the jack. If you still don’t hear a dial tone, recheck the connections and equipment.)

Special advice: If there is no dial tone, make sure the line cord is firmly plugged into the jack and phone, and that the handset cord is firmly plugged in at both ends. If the phone won’t ring, check to see that the ringer switch is set to “on.” If so, note the ringer equivalence number (REN) on the bottom and ask your phone company if it requires more ringing power than is normal. If there is static, check for a loose handset cord or, if possible, try an other cord. (Some weather conditions, such as very low humidity, can cause static build-up.) If you get a dial tone, but can’t dial out, make sure the tone/pulse switch is set to “pulse” if you have rotary-only ser vice.

Helpful hint: If you have phone accessories—such as answering machines, speaker phones, or cordless phones—make sure they are working. If phones work without the added equipment, the problem may be with the accessories. If you have a phone connected to an answering machine and have a dial tone but can’t dial out, try plugging only the phone into the jack. If it works, you may have a compatibility problem and may need a 2-for-1 adaptor, available where phone equipment is sold.