Telephone line help? Somewhat intermittent lous buzzing noise.

The other day my wife called from home, but on her cell, to let me know that the internet (DSL) wasn’t working at our house, and that the phone had a hideously loud buzzing on the line that drowns out everything else. You can still faintly hear a dial tone and people talking, but not enough to hold a conversatoin without getting seriously annoyed.

So, I tested the outside line at the NID and it’s crystal celar. Crap, that means it is my inside wiring. I check the modular jack right inside the house (we have some sort of test jack wired up right after the wiring comes into the house), and that one exhibits the buzzing as well.

If I disconnect the outside wiring for about 60 seconds, the whole system seems to “reset” itself and the line is clear for several hours. This has been going on since late friday night.

Between the NID and the inside jack is one other box on the outside of the house, which takes the teeny tiny telephone wire and hooks it to some really thick (14Ga, maybe thicker) wire to run through the wall. Once through the wall, it is connected back to the teeny tiny wire again. It’s at this connection, inside the wall and running from the big wire to teh small wire, that I have disconnected and reconnected again. I have stripped the wire down to nice, shiny new wire there just to make sure it wasn’t some sort of corrosion. I can’t easily strip the wire outside, since it’s inside a sealed box (which I opened anyhow) and is crimped together inside some sort of device which I do not have the tools to open and refasten.

Can anyone offer any advice? Should I call the phone company? I worry that they will charge me because at the NID the signal is clear. What can I do to track this down?

Hmm. . . do you or did you ever have a DSL “filter” on the line that you connect your phone into?

. . .

All the lines have a DSL filter on them. This is different than the noise you hear (more high pitched static) when the DSL filter is not hooked up.

Clarifying that the high pitched static is what you hear when the DSL filter is not hooked up.

Also, I beleive the thing that connects the outside wires to the inside wires is called a telephone line protector. None of the images I coudl find online look like this, however an old image in a book my dad gave me does appear to be very similar, and my house was built in 1913, so it could just be an old design.

I have (temporarily) disconnected the ground wire from this device, and the noise seems to have gone away again. I do not know if it will come back or not, but I will be replacing the ground wire with new wire and hooking it up to a better place.

Could the wires have got mixed up between the NID and the first inside jack?

When I replaced my sister’s phone some 20 years ago, when I first hooked up the new phone it made a buzzing. It turned out that one of the two “phone wires” had an open, and a previous owner had hooked up the phone using one of the other wires that provided (IIRC) power for lighting the dial. The older phone had no problem with this setup, but the newer one did.

Another thought, since the buzzing and the DSL problem appeared at once, maybe one of the DSL filters went bad. It might partially work, which is why the buzzing doesn’t sound the same. Try unplugging all of them and see if the problem goes away.

When this happened to me about 7 years ago, I called the telephone company and agreed to pay if it was the inside wiring. He found that some insulation on the outside wire was squirrel gnawed and replaced it. It helped but didn’t solve the problem. He then returned and replaced something he called the “protection box”. He might have been translating (from French) something badly. That cured the problem.

Now that I get phone and internet service from the cable company, there are no more z-filters.

The buzzing and the DSL problem didn’t apear at the same time, there is no dSL problem (unless I remove a filter). The dial tone is still clear this morning with the ground wire disconnected, so I’ll continue to monitor it. If it stays clear, I will move the ground connection later today.


Sounds like the line protector has gone bad and is grounding out the line. I’d expect this to be a free fix as the protector is their equipment.

Your description of a box after the demarc and 14-gage wires running through the wall is weird - Normally, the incoming line connects to the demarc, there’s a single large #14 or #12 wire that runs off to an earth ground and then your inside wire is connected using regular twisted pair. The only test jack is the one built into the demarc. Hopefully, you’ll be able to get the phone company to replace all of this weirdness with a new and normal demarc, and you’l soon have a clean line and quite possibly, faster DSL.

A long time ago, I had a problem where I got a bad connection once every 8 times or so. I confirmed that it wasn’t the house wiring with a linesman’s set. I finally convinced the telco that it was their problem, and they replaced the line card at the switch, and it fixed the problem.

I agree with others that it sounds like the line protector. We had what sounds like the same problem and it turned out to be an unnecessary old line protector inside the house that shouldn’t have even been there.

The technician explained that these devices used to be in all houses and they often had to be replaced after a lighting storm. These days, the box where the outside line comes in (I guess that’s the NID) has one built in and it’s “self healing” so it does its job in a lighting storm and lives to fight another day. Some time in the distant past, whoever installed that box forgot to remove the old protector. This guy snipped it out and solved the problem. It sounds suspiciously like the “some sort of device” you describe might be the same thing although I seem to remember ours was a disk shaped thing.

He was a friend of a friend who used to work for the phone company but I suspect if we had to call the company it would have cost us which would have been a bit unfair since it was their fault long ago but … proving it would have been difficult.

Thanks to the folks talking about the line protector…it does look rather old and antiquated. I wish I still had some phone company buddies who could take a look at this and see what’s up.

Telco employee checking in - it sounds to me like you’ve got a high open, probably just tip or ring. When you reterminate the line, the voltage coming down from the central office is clearing that open temporarily, but as you’ve discovered, it just comes back.

It sounds like you know where it’s at, too, which is good, but unless somebody was nice enough to run multiple pairs through your wall, you’ll probably need to pull some new wiring through.

One option is to call your telco and ask for a house wiring protection plan. My company calls it linebacker, it runs about 5 bucks a month (dunno where you are, or how your local telco handles this), and once you’ve got it on your account, your telco should handle any IW issues you’ve got.

They may wanna fix it by drilling a hole in your wall and pulling some CAT3 through, but they’ll fix it. :smiley: