Why doesn't my landline ring?
July 11, 2011 2:37 AM   Subscribe

Why isn't my phone ringing?

Problem with my BT landline:

I can receive and make calls fine, but the phone won't ring. I've tried another phone, and tested both sockets. BT have checked the line. No problems.

Where do I look next?
posted by monkey closet to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Will a different phone in the same socket work? I'm guessing not, but it's not clear.

Try removing all of the other devices that are plugged into phone sockets in your house - Sky box, answer machine, etc. Does it work then?
posted by Solomon at 2:44 AM on July 11, 2011

Tried two different phones (one borrowed - works in its owner's house) in both sockets; so definitely not the phone.

Yes, have unplugged everything (the line test doesn't work with the broadband going, so I took everything out and plugged it back in one thing at a time).
posted by monkey closet at 2:47 AM on July 11, 2011

In the old days I would have guessed that the circuit didn't have enough juice to drive all the devices attached to it. What's the REN of the phone? You should be able to hook 4-REN-worth of phones up to a line before they start to fail.

Are you connecting your phone directly to the main BT socket? Is there any internal wiring you can disconnect? If you eliminate the internal wiring, then the fault has to be BT's.
posted by Leon at 2:54 AM on July 11, 2011

(Ok, I see that you have. The only possibility I can think of is a short in your internal wiring. Once you've discounted that, it's BT's problem).
posted by Leon at 2:56 AM on July 11, 2011

How has BT checked the line? With some remote test? Or did they send someone out to verify they are receiving ring voltage at the terminal outside your house? If you can make and receive phone calls, and you've verified that the phone ringer isn't broken, the only thing it can be is a problem at the switch.

Call BT again and have them check the line properly this time.

Perhaps this will help explain the technology.
posted by j03 at 3:22 AM on July 11, 2011

Since you've (pretty much*) proved the phone is OK, what is the caller getting - normal ring tone, or no (or just a single cycle) of ring tone?

If the caller is getting ring tone, I'd bet it's a faulty line circuit / interface (at BT's exchange) not sending ring. If the caller isn't getting ring tone, I'd bet you've got a line fault that is 'tripping' the ring (e.g. the line is breaking down, which looks to the exchange like the phone has been answered). Neither is something you can do much about**, short of ringing BT.

* Well, not quite - to be sure, you'd want to try your phone on another line.
** Unless it's in your internal wiring - I'm not sure on the boundaries, responsibilities, etc in the UK, but in my Oz experience that sort of fault was in the street cabling ~90% of the time.

posted by Pinback at 3:45 AM on July 11, 2011

Thanks, all. Loads to go on here.

j03 - it was a remote test
Pinback - normal ring tone
posted by monkey closet at 3:50 AM on July 11, 2011

Unless it's in your internal wiring - I'm not sure on the boundaries, responsibilities, etc in the UK, but in my Oz experience that sort of fault was in the street cabling ~90% of the time.

BT's responsibility ends at the first socket (link). monkey closet, according to that wikipedia link if you've got a modern-style NTE5 socket you can pull the front off and find a test jack inside. That should enable you to easily isolate the internal wiring while testing.
posted by Leon at 4:27 AM on July 11, 2011

My mum had the same problem - took ages to get BT to fix it :(
posted by missmagenta at 5:16 AM on July 11, 2011

Is the ringer on?
posted by Thistledown at 5:42 AM on July 11, 2011

As Qwest customers we only recently found out that Qwest's voice mail is no longer manageable by us while actually connected to voice mail.
One day out of nowhere our service dropped down to three rings before sending incoming calls to voice mail whereupon we could never actually get to the phone in time to answer it. It turns out that we now have to call a certain number from our land line to manage the voice mail features separate from the menus in the actual voice mail. We did so and bumped the ring count up to six.

Maybe something like this has happened to your voice mail service and your ring count is set at zero?
posted by No Shmoobles at 2:48 PM on July 11, 2011

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