how to tell if phone jack is functional
June 6, 2008 11:40 AM   Subscribe

is this thing on? Phone jack not working.

Is there a simple/easy/cheap/free way to tell if the phone jack in my bedroom works? I get a dead line when I plug in a phone, and I have already asked the phone company who had no idea and wanted to send out a technician for $150 and hour to figure it out.

Basically, I'm not sure if the jack is non-functional OR it was previously set up to have its own telephone number (thus, it doesn't work along with the rest of the jacks in the house).

If there's a way to find this out for less than $150, I'd be interested to know!
posted by giddygirlie to Technology (3 answers total)
If an analog phone works in another jack in your house, but not in your bedroom, then it's the jack.

If no phone jacks in your house work, take your analog phone outside where the telephone cable comes into your house. Some have a jack out there for testing. You may need a screwdriver to get in, or possibly a "security wrench." I got a box of security wrenches from a supplier of low-voltage electronics for $35 for exactly this reason when I moved into my house.

You will be immediately able to tell from the box outside whether your house has ever been wired for a second line: there will be two testing jacks. You may or may not be comfortable rewiring yourself.

If it looks like both lines go to your bedroom, you can buy a phone line splitter for $1 or so that separates the jacks for line 1 and line 2.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 12:20 PM on June 6, 2008

You can get very simple little testers like this, but all they really do is tell you if there is any voltage on the line, a multimeter will do just as well. There should be about 50V between the two wires that count.

Note that most houses have 4wire telephone cables, the extra pair is for a second phone line, and you can just ignore them. It is possible that the wires in your jack are just swapped around a bit, try reading one of the million DIY phone jack articles to fix that problem.
posted by Chuckles at 12:24 PM on June 6, 2008

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I just wanted to be sure that I wasn't ignorant of some "common knowledge" checkpoint. I am fortunate to have an electrician friend who I can ask to look at this. I just wanted to make sure that it wasn't something simple/stupid that I was overlooking. I think once upon a time the bedroom was a child's play room and so I wasn't sure if it could be switched off someplace so that a kid couldn't electrocute themselves or something. :)
posted by giddygirlie at 12:28 PM on June 6, 2008

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