Why does my DSL blink on and off when in bad weather? How can I fix it?
August 9, 2007 9:50 AM   Subscribe

Why does my DSL blink on and off when in bad weather? How can I fix it? It's not as straightforward as it seems...

When it's raining--or even overcast and about to rain, or drizzling--my DSL goes out. But it doesn't totally go out--it'll work for a few seconds and then cut out, work for a few seconds and cut out. Resetting the connection or turning the modem off and on does nothing. My landline phone service is fine the entire time.

Last time it rained, I did some troubleshooting. I tried plugging the modem into the MAIN phone jack box outside the house and got a fast, perfect connection. When I tried it inside again, the connection was just as bad as before. Every phone jack inside my house was equally bad. And as usual, soon after it stopped raining, I got a perfectly decent connection with the modem plugged into an inside phone jack.

1. Why does this happen?
2. How can I fix it besides trying to run phone wire out my window to the main outside jack? (Besides the inconvenience, in order to use the outside jack I have to disconnect the phone access to the rest of the house, and there's no space for a splitter inside the box.) The phone company is not so helpful, and if it's a problem with my wiring, it's not their responsibility anyway.

I've tried to look at the phone wiring in my house to see if there's a weak point (though I don't know why that would only make problems when it rains). It's definitely old, but it's hard to access and there's wiring for two lines plus an ancient alarm system (also hooked up to the phone line), so it's difficult to follow. I'm hoping there's something I'm overlooking that's easier to fix.
posted by needs more cowbell to Technology (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can do a couple of things straight off.

1) Clean the jack where you plug in to and repunch/mount it. The jacks can become corroded over time. You can use a brass wire brush to clean the terminals.

2) Do the same at NID outside your house.

You probably have an old pair running to a jack that's either unused or has some wire stripped that is exposed just enough to be impacted by a change in humidity.

If you'rw willing to spend some cash or savvy enough yourself you can run a dedicated line from the NID outside to your office using CAT5/CAT6. It's not terribly challenging and you're guaranteed a clean run. You can also hire someone to do this but it can cost a couple hundred bucks depending on how far and difficult the run is.
posted by iamabot at 10:24 AM on August 9, 2007

I had a very similar problem as you have.

That whole thread may be helpful.
posted by mzurer at 10:52 AM on August 9, 2007

The second line doesn't seem to be connected to anything live, so I don't think that's the problem in this case. It's also been following this pattern (works when it's not raining, flakey when it is raining) has been happening consistently for the past year or so.
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:08 AM on August 9, 2007

(or rather, the second line isn't connected to anything else--the line from the telephone pole that could be connected to it isn't.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:10 AM on August 9, 2007

iamabot, I just looked at the feasibility of running a CAT5/CAT6 line directly. How do I go from CAT5/CAT6 cable to something that can connect to the red screw and the green screw in my junction box, though? I think that's the only way to connect a second/dedicated line.
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:16 AM on August 9, 2007

Really the problem is with your inside wiring, you don't have to use the second set of terminals in the NID, you can connect to the existing set of terminals and just use one of the pair of wires within the cat5/6 bundle. Connecting to the second set of terminals will do you now good unless the main phone line is crossed to them, which is probably isn't.
posted by iamabot at 11:30 AM on August 9, 2007

Whoops, I wasn't very clear. I understand that I need to connect cat5/6 cable to the existing terminals in my junction box in some manner. (When I said "second line" I was trying to say "second bit of wiring connected to the active set of terminals.") From there I'll run the cable into my computer room. I was just wondering which pieces of the cat5/6 cable go to which terminal. I think this page mostly clears that up, though.
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:59 AM on August 9, 2007

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