HELP! Home Telephone No Dial Tone - Have Dial Tone at NID - What else can I do?

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Old 08-05-14, 06:29 PM
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HELP! Home Telephone No Dial Tone - Have Dial Tone at NID - What else can I do?

  • I have POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) home landline telephone and DSL internet with AT&T Bellsouth. (I do not have any U-verse services. U-verse is not available in my area yet.)
  • For several weeks, there was some static on my phone line and the sound was unpleasant, but the phone was still usable. Then a few days ago, I lost home phone service altogether. I have no dial tone on any phone. My DSL internet service continues to work.
  • For a few random times, the home phone service could be restored by calling my home number from my cell phone. It was a temporary fix but I would have a dial tone again for a couple hours. That process only worked a few times and is no longer working.
  • One of my cordless phones shows "Line in Use" on its display.
  • I have a corded telephone (good old cheapie $9.99 plug-in handset/test phone) that I can use to test jacks.
  • I tested the line at the NID box outside my home using the cheapie plug-in handset. I do have a clear dial tone at the NID and can make outgoing calls from the NID. So if I understand everything I have read, that indicates the problem is either with the inside wiring, inside telephone equipment, inside DSL filters, or somewhere else inside the house.
  • After the home phone service was lost, I got an error message from my Netgear modem that it had detected problems with my DSL service. See attached print screen. I ran "Check Connection" tests on the modem and received "Fail" for IP and DNS tests. Looking at the "Details" of the IP error, the failure was in the "Continuity check to 6rd BR". The "Details" of the DNS failure show a failed query and ping.
  • I was hoping it would be a bad DSL filter - even the modem's warning indicated that. I removed every phone and every DSL filter from every phone jack in the house. I turned the computer and modem off and unplugged the modem from the wall jack. But using the cheapie phone, without a DSL filter, I still cannot get a dial tone in any jack. So I do not think the problem is with my phone equipment, DSL filters or modem. If I cannot get a dial tone using a known working phone plugged direclty into any jack, that eliminates failure of the equipment, DSL filters, and modem, right?
  • What else can I test? What else can I do to troubleshoot and fix this myself?
  • Is it possible that the problem is in the wiring inside the NID box itself? In my reading on the internet, I am led to believe the problem could be there. If so, whose responsibility is it to pay for repair of wires inside the NID box: AT&T or the homeowner?
  • Any other ideas what I can do to fix this before calling an electrician? I do not have the Inside Wiring Maintenance (insurance) coverage/plan.
  • For several days, the phones have produced no sound at all (completely "dead" and silent). But after fussing with the jacks, filters, etc. while writing this post, I got a loud, constant "full" static sound. Hmm? Only the computer modem and one phone were plugged in (different jacks). Now it has gone away and the phones have no sound at all again.

Thank you very much for reading this and any help you can provide. It is greatly appreciated! (Attached photos are below.)

Carol

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  #2  
Old 08-05-14, 08:28 PM
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You are very handy and a good troubleshooter. You took your basic phone out to the NID and determined the actual phone line from the street is good. At this point the phone company's responsibility ends unless you have a inside wiring contract.

Phone wiring is very basic and easy to troubleshoot.
A good, clear, large picture of the inside of your NID would be helpful.

Once you know what colors are being used for what purpose you can diagnose the problem. If you called that number and didn't get a busy signal then that means you don't have a short.... you have an open issue.

Post that pic and we'll go from there. http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...-pictures.html
 
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Old 08-05-14, 08:39 PM
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PJmax, I've been ready to tear my hair out. Already I feel better, just reading your response. Thank you soooo much. So happy to hear it is maybe something I can repair.

I will take photos of the inside of the NID as soon as it is daylight tomorrow and get them posted here.

Thanks again,
Carol

EDIT: Yes, I have called my home phone (the one that is out of service) from my cell phone and I just get endless rings. I do not get a busy signal. So I am eagerly waiting to find out what is an "open issue". I will Google it before heading to bed.
 
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Old 08-05-14, 08:57 PM
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There are two terminals in the NId. All your phones and DSL run off those two wires... so it's not all that hard to follow.

You'll need to know where the wiring goes. You could have several cables all connecting at the NID or your house could use a daisy chain method. I'm usually online here at nights but there are others that will stop by and help you during the day.
 
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Old 08-06-14, 01:37 PM
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I realized late last night that I do have one more thing that could be the inside culprit - my home security system. My alarm system is not currently monitored by any service but the phone line is still connected to it. I do not know how to disconnect it properly. I need help.

Below are photos of the inside of the system panel in the closet. My system is a First Alert (Ademco clone) Model FA110C installed in 1995. I don't know much about what is going on inside the box but a phone connection and DSL filter hang outside/below the system panel. I have the original installation instructions (and I tried uploading a PDF of the wiring schematic/diagram page but this forum gives me a file size error). The telephone line comes in through the circular hole with the bundle of wires, down below the panel to the tan jack box, then through the DSL filter, and finally back up into the panel where it is connected to the four screws on the far right. The telephone line connects to those four screws on the far right: connections 17, 18, 19 and 20. The screws (going from left to right), are labeled:

TELEPHONE WIRING

Handset:
17 TIP (brown)
18 RING (gray)
Incoming Phone Line:
19 TIP (green)
20 RING (red)

I unplugged the DSL filter on both ends and left the two ends of the phone line hanging freely. However, that gives me an error message on my alarm wall panel that the system is "Not Ready". I understand that is how the alarm is supposed to work, but how do I disconnect the phone line and leave the alarm system so that I can use the alarm (even though there is no monitoring service)?

Can I just unscrew the four wires? Those connections are essentially disconnected now, already, since I disconnect the line from the jack, so I'm not sure how that would help. If I should disconnect the four wires from the screws, is there any danger of shock? What do I do with the four loose wires? And then what about the tan wire coming from the bundle of wires in the wall and down to the hanging tan jack box below the panel? What do I do with that, if anything?

Thanks very much for your help! I am so grateful. (photos below)
Carol

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Old 08-06-14, 01:50 PM
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Here are photos of my NID box (Network Interface Device). I did confirm again today that I have a working dial tone and am able to make outgoing calls by plugging in my cheapie corded phone into the NID (darn it... I want so badly for this to be the telco's problem).

Side note of grossness: I was surprised by a family of nasty roaches living over on the left side - yuck. Yes, the left side - the telco's side - is not screwed/bolted/locked shut. The left interior door just swings right open. (Do you need photos of the inside of there, too?) I cleaned out the NID box and left a Combat Roach meal inside when I closed it up.

Many thanks again for your help. (photos below)
Carol

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Old 08-06-14, 02:19 PM
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Usually the alarm is wired to capture* the phone line. You may have to bypass the connection to the alarm. Look in the wall jack where the alarm is plugged in.

*Phone signal goes to the alarm first, through the alarm, then out to the rest of the house. If alarm is in capture mode the other house wiring is disconnected.
 
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Old 08-06-14, 03:05 PM
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Hi Ray
Thanks so much for your reply. By "Look in the wall jack where the alarm is plugged in", do you mean the tan box which hangs below the security system panel box? (Please see photo.)

Thanks,
Carol

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Old 08-06-14, 03:49 PM
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Just thinking out loud here...
Ever since I removed the DSL filter from the phone line on the security system, the two ends hang loose. The phone line is not currently connected to the security system. However, I still have DSL internet service. I'm on the internet right now... so the phone line must bypass the alarm system already somehow, right? So I wonder how I get the alarm system happy (in "Ready"/working mode) without being connected to the phone line?

And the overriding problem: I still do not have an inside dial tone. Does that mean that the security system is not the culprit? Or is my logic incorrect?

Thanks,
Carol
 
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Old 08-06-14, 04:11 PM
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You only need one wire for DSL. Lost dial tone a couple of times and still had DSL. In both cases the repair person said one wire was disconnected at their distribution box but the DSL still worked because it needed only one wire.

Open up the surface mount jack and take a picture. Where does the wire going in the top come from? Does come from that terminal board in the alarm box.

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And can you give me a better picture of this terminal board. Or wait for PJ. I am not familiar enough with alarm circuits to tell you without figuring the wiring out first, hence the questions.
 
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Old 08-06-14, 07:36 PM
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Go back outside to the Network Interface. Notice the wire terminals (screws) at the top and notice the blue-green crud growing, especially on the right hand screws. Remove the wire connections, one screw at a time and thoroughly clean both the wires and the screw terminals. Do not mix up the wires and do all four screws and wire sets.
 
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Old 08-06-14, 08:00 PM
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Nice catch Furd..... just seeing the same corrosion.

I like the tricky wiring job here. Let me explain it to you. Your phone line comes to your house on the upper two terminals. Right now there is a green and red connected there. The green and red feeds TO your alarm panel. The yellow and black are the RETURN from the alarm system and feed the house. So that jack at your alarm panel will have a four conductor cable there.

You have two 8 wire cables that feed the house on the blue and blue/white pair. So the two return wires from the alarm connect to the blue pairs on the bottom screws.

Here's the thing... if you disconnect the phone line to your alarm system it may be fine until the next alarm trouble or alarm. When the alarm goes to communicate with the central station and can't... it will start beeping. You should really have the alarm reprogrammed for no phone line or local use only.

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Old 08-06-14, 08:30 PM
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Thanks for everyone's help! I appreciate all of the advice. I have lots of questions but it is late and I don't have the energy to type much. I will start by cleaning those terminals first thing tomorrow. (Yes, I had noticed the corrosion, too.) My most urgent question is if there is any danger of shock when cleaning the terminals? Is there anything I need to unplug or turn off before I start? Can I do one at a time?

Would an old, dry toothbrush followed by Qtips and white vinegar work to clean those terminals?

I will post more pictures and ask my followup questions in the morning. Thanks again to you all! I really, really appreciate it.

Carol
 

Last edited by carol2; 08-06-14 at 08:30 PM. Reason: typos
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Old 08-06-14, 10:13 PM
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There really isn't much voltage there unless the phone is ringing. You can unplug the modular plug and you'll be good.

Q-tips and an old toothbrush are ok. I'd use isopropyl (regular) alcohol instead of the vinegar.
 
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Old 08-07-14, 08:35 AM
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A toothbrush-sized brass wire brush is ideal. Often available at a local hardware store or from Harbor Freight if you have one nearby.
 
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Old 08-08-14, 06:19 PM
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Thank you all so much for your help. I cleaned the terminals and after that, realized this repair was beyond my capabilities.

When I unscrewed the pins inside the NID, the wires were fused/corroded on (of course), so as I unscrewed them, no surprise, the tiny wires wrapped around those pins broke off. I soaked the pins overnight in white vinegar. So during that time, I had no internet, so I couldn't post an update here. The pins were clean as a whistle this morning. White vinegar is perfect for that. Have cleaned so many corroded things by an overnight soak in white vinegar.

Put the pins back in this morning. Those tiny wires have to be stripped using the wire cutter portion of my wire-stripping tool - neither of my wire strippers goes that small gauge. Got the wires stripped and reconnected the wires and DSL was restored. But still no dial tone. At that point, I gave up. I put in a service ticket at the telco website.

Service tech came out this afternoon (Same day! Amazing! He said they are sooo busy that he is on a crew up here in Jacksonville from Miami for a month due to Jacksonville's overload). He was great. He worked like a dog to get my system restored and did. He put in new connection piece (insert) to replace the corroded one in the photo and another whole replacement part on the left side of the NID box, too. He tested and tested and tested until I had dial tone - and my security alarm system was working - and then made sure I had his cell phone in case of any more problems for the rest of the month while he is in town. I rarely get service people as good as this guy.

I am most grateful to you all for trying to help me. Boy, I am a DIY girl and don't give up easily, but in this case, I'm glad I did. I wish I could tell you exactly the culprit but I still don't know exactly what had gone bad. The tech said there was a problem with the alarm system being "looped into" one of my phone jacks (and only one). But now the jack, phone lines, DSL and security alarm all work. He didn't run any new lines but he sure did replace all the connections and connection pieces inside the NID box. I still believe - as I always did all along - that the problem was inside the NID box.

Have a great weekend, everyone and aren't DIYers the greatest?! I wish I could have been one this time but all things aren't meant to be.
Carol
 
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Old 08-08-14, 07:31 PM
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Thanks for letting us know how it turned out and enjoy your weekend.
 
 

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