How Do I Install Telephone Wiring?


In the United States during the good old days, the telephone company used to not connect your house to their network and they also did the wiring for you. Well those days are long gone, and most people do the wiring part for themselves after the phone company puts the Network Interface Device (NID) in your basement. Unlike the dreaded power lines, telephone lines are safer to install by a non-expert because of the low voltages they carry. That does not mean that you may do telephone wiring while barefooted on a wet floor. If you are a stickler for rules and standards, you might find it a bit harder to comply with many industry standards for installing telephone wires in your home. First, those standards are too many and it’s a bit confusing to keep up with the current ones. But if are moving into a new facility, the most current standards you may want to use are EIA/TIA T586A.

The work begins at the Network Interface Device, and it has a customer access compartment which one may open and check the lines for a dial tone. You can use a previously-tested corded phone to test the phone lines; as this is the only way you can be certain you are testing the lines, and not the phone. Any phone head that gives a dial tone can be used to test the lines. If on testing no dial tone can be detected, it is likely you have a phone problem. The phone company may be willing to help you with this though they may charge you for the repairs. On the customer compartment on the NID, you will see a line of phone jacks lined up vertically. After testing the lines and finding out that they are fine, the next thing you should do is to label the NID lid so that you can tell which jack is associated with which phone line.

To guard yourself against a possible electrical jolt that you may get from a telephone line, especially when there is an incoming call, it may be a good idea to disconnect your house from the NID before you start wiring (this is particularly important for those with pacemakers which can be interfered with even by a minor shock). And it is not advisable to do your wiring during thunderstorms. For new telephone wiring, use a Cat-5 cable and when attaching this on the NID, you will need to make the appropriate color conversions. This means you will swap black for green, and yellow for red. Note that although it would still work perfectly if you consistently swap the wires the other way around, that is black for red and yellow for green, that this is not considered to be the standard. The four strand wire supports up to two lines and if you want to install more than three or four lines, you will need to buy the eight strand wire, or six strand wire, which is similar to eight strand wire but without the brown wires.

If every thing is hooked up and you still have problems such as one or more phone lines that have no dial tone, there are several possibilities. The fault could be yours or the phone company’s. Just make sure the problem is not yours before calling the company, for you may be asked to pay for their trouble should it be found to be your fault.

Additional Reading on Telephone Wiring