Phone jacks are incredibly durable pieces of equipment that can take years of abuse and still work perfectly fine. However, there may come a time when you pick up the handset only to hear dead air. Unless you forgot to pay your phone bill, the odds are that your phone jack may have finally developed a problem. Do not worry, fixing a phone jack is usually one of the easiest self-repair jobs in the house and here is how to do it.
The first thing you should do is check the cord on your phone (if it has one) and make sure that the plug is firmly connected to the handset as well as the base. If that is all good and you still have no dial tone, then check the other phones in your home to see if they are also dead. If you have another phone that is working, try plugging the phone that is not working into that jack to make sure that the phone is not broken. If it gets a dial tone, then you know the phone is OK. If all the phones are without dial tones, then there is a bigger issue.
Back at the phone jack that is not working, remove the cord from the phone jack and look inside the terminal. Check the wires that make contact with the phone cord and see if any look bent out of shape or damaged. If a wire looks bent or out of position, use needlenose pliers to try and bend it back into position. Plug the phone back in and check for the dial tone.
Remove the phone jack's cover plate. On the back side of the plate, you should see where the phone wires are connected to the terminal screws. There are usually four different colors of wires - red, green, black and yellow. Check each of the screw terminals and make sure that they are all tight and that the wires are secured under them.
Since phone wire is extremely thin, it can sometimes break off at the screw. Check each wire to make sure it is not broken. If you find one that is, loosen its screw and remove the broken piece of wire. Then, use the smallest notch on the strippers to remove a new section of insulation from the wire. Wrap the exposed wire around the terminal screw and tighten. Be careful not to over-tighten or the new wire may snap too!
Make sure each screw terminal has the appropriate colored wire connected to it. Before you close everything back up, plug your phone into the jack and check for a dial tone. If you do, close everything back up. If there is still no dial tone, then the problem may be where that phone line branches off from the main line.
To troubleshoot, you will have to find where the main line branches out inside your home. Once you find it, check all of the wiring, terminals and connectors to make sure nothing is loose or broken. If everything looks good, and you still have no dial tone, there may be a break in the line somewhere. You can opt to re-run a new line yourself or have a professional do the job for you.