How to repair your phone line

Often when phones stop working, there is a simple reason. Here's how to keep connected.

How to repair your phone line

Before you call the repair guy

It's been known to happen: All the phone lines in your house suddenly go dead. Before you pull out your cell phone and call the telephone company, check to see on whose end the problem lies. If the trouble originated at the phone company, it's the company's responsibility to repair at no charge to you. If the problem is on your end of the line, however, you can expect to pay for a call by a telephone service person. Here's what to do:

1. Start by locating a small grey box known as the network interface; it's probably on the outside of your house where the phone wire comes in, or it might be in the basement.

2. The network interface box typically has two separate sides. One side is sealed and is strictly for use by the phone company; the other side can be accessed by the consumer. On the consumer side, you should see at least one standard phone jack — the same size and shape as a modular phone jack — with a short cord attached. This is your phone line.

3. Disconnect the cord from the jack and plug in an old push-button phone; if you don't have one on hand, you'll either have to buy one or try to borrow one from a neighbour.

4. If you don't hear a dial tone when you lift the receiver of the push-button phone, that's good news. It means the problem has occurred outside your home. If you hear a dial tone, however, the problem is your responsibility.

5. Disconnect all of your phones one at a time to see if a faulty unit is the cause of the problem. Also check the phone lines in your house for breaks or something that might be causing a line to short. If you do need to call for help, you may be able to save some money by shopping around for telephone repair other than your service provider.

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