Troubleshoot lack of dial tone on home phone

How to check your devices and find the reason your phone has no dial tone

Lack of dial tone on home phone

If your home phone is lacking a dial tone, more often than not the problem stems from your phone's copper wire, which may need replacing. We suggest examining your copper wire to determine if it looks worn out. If so, you will need to contact us.

Alternatively, there may be a problem with one or multiple devices in your home. Please read through the scenarios below to isolate the cause:

One device affected out of many

Multiple or all devices affected

One device affected out of many

Before you begin

  • Verify there are no outages in your area by visiting the service status page
  • Make sure your telephone is not off the hook. (If you have multiple phones verify that they are all connected properly, hung up and with their cables firmly engaged)
  • If you are using a cordless telephone, make sure the battery is charged and the base is plugged in
  • If you have an answering machine, fax, computer modem, alarm system or other device, make sure they are plugged in correctly
  • If there has been any recent changes in the home that may affect the phone line, try to undo them. For example, rearranging furniture, a new fax machine or a new satellite receiver could be triggers

If your phone or other device is connected directly to the jack and you don't hear a dial tone:

  1. Make sure that the phone cord is plugged into the correct port on your phone or device
  2. Unplug the phone or device from the wall jack
  3. Plug your phone or device into another wall jack that you know is working. If the dial tone returns it means the previous wall jack is damaged or defective
  4. Plug a different device that you know is working into the original wall jack. If the dial tone returns it means your phone or device is damaged or defective
  5. If these steps don't solve the problem, you may need to replace your phone cord

Multiple or all devices affected

Before you begin

  • Verify there are no outages in your area by visiting the service status page
  • Make sure your telephone is not off the hook. (If you have multiple phones verify that they are all connected properly, the cables firmly engaged and they are hung up)
  • If you are using a cordless telephone, make sure the battery is charged and the base is plugged in
  • If you have an answering machine, fax, computer modem, alarm system or other device, make sure they are plugged in correctly
  • If there has been any recent changes in the home that may affect the phone line, try to undo them. For example, rearranging furniture, a new fax machine or a new satellite receiver could be triggers

If there is no dial tone on multiple or all devices, follow these steps:

  1. Unplug all equipment from every phone jack (including fax machines, modems, splitters, etc.).
  2. Leave everything unplugged for a minimum of 60 seconds
  3. Plug in your most basic telephone, preferably not a cordless phone
  4. Check for dial tone. If dial tone returns, begin adding equipment one piece at a time, continuing to check for dial tone after each addition
  5. If, after any addition, you lose your dial tone again, remove the equipment from the jack. It's probably causing the problem and you may want to have it checked
If the problem does not appear to be because of equipment in the home, please contact us and one of our agents will be happy to assist you further.

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