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Telephone woes and a surprise visitor 
9th-Apr-2007 01:00 pm

Last night I got a phone call. The phone rang once, but nothing ever came up on caller-ID. I took a good guess and rang the person I suspected back on my cell phone. Had him call me back on the house phone. This call never arrived. I picked up several of my phones and got a very faint noise -- if it was a dial tone it was a VERY quiet one. I did not try to dial out. I went out back with a telephone and a small mag-light (since it was dark and we have a combination lock on the telephone box). Stepped off the porch, walked around the compost bin, and said "eek". My flashlight was staring a raccoon-sized possum in the eye. It was probably more startled than I, and ran back between the deck and the air conditioner and started trying to get its fat body under the deck in that corner. I saw the slats bending quite a bit, but then things got quiet, so I assumed s/he'd made it. Undid the combination, went back inside for a phillips screwdriver, opened the box and saw 2 connections. One was labelled "DSL" (oh right...) so I unplugged the other one, plugging my phone in. It worked. Okay... While I was working there (on the OTHER side of the air conditioning unit from the deck) I moved the light so I could see the corner, and there was the possum looking back at me. So I guess s/he hadn't made it, but realized I wasn't out hunting dinner, so was just going to wait me out.

Went back inside, plugged the phone in. It worked. Hmmm... Had the friend call me back on the house phone. As before it rang only once, did not come up with a caller id, but when I answered it (a few ring-spaces later) he was there. Part way through the conversation, though, it cut out. Weird. I was on a wireless, so after hanging up, I hit the "open a connection" button, and heard a beep-beep-beep noise. Hit end, then hit the "open" button again. Heard one or two more beeps, then silence. No other phones worked either. By now I was less dressed than I had been before, so I decided I'd deal with it in the morning. After the phone goes into "weird" mode, anyone dialing in gets only a busy signal.

This morning, I picked up phones to hear silence. Went outside (no possum) and plugged my phone in. Worked fine. Brought the phone inside. Worked fine. Guess it works until I'm called, then it rings once, and stops working until I unplug the house from the main. I don't much like that. One ring isn't enough to trigger the answering machine.

I figure my next experiment is to unplug all but one phone (If you count the 3 wireless phones a one unit, I have between 9 and 11), and see if the problem goes away. Then plug them back in, one at a time, to see at what point the problem returns. In my copious free time.

9th-Apr-2007 08:23 pm (UTC)
It's not identical, but some of the symptoms sound vaguely similar to problems we had a few months ago. It turned out that the problem wasn't the phones, it was the phone line, and we had to get someone to come out and fix it. It's possible that your possum chewed through something between the outside box and the inside jacks.
9th-Apr-2007 10:58 pm (UTC)
I'll surely bear that in mind. When I got home today I was again without phone, but after unplugging & checking outside, then unplugging them all (including one I'd forgotten) and between each re-plug calling from my cell, letting it ring many times, I still got a dial tone. Don't like these flakies. (Yes, I'm as binary/digital as Helen is.)
13th-Apr-2007 09:55 pm (UTC)
Inside wiring seldom goes bad and definitely not with the symptoms you're having. I'd suggest reporting an intermittant line problem and telling SBC (or whatever they're called this week) to please examine the line.

Unfortunately, until it dies for sure it won't get proper attention.
14th-Apr-2007 07:15 pm (UTC)
I'm less suspicious of inside wiring (even though we put in a distribution point and sent wires to all of the rooms of the house -- and while doing this FOUND a set of bad wiring in the bedroom) than I am of a phone that might go into a weird state. (Un)Fortunately, after I went through and unplugged all the phones in the house, and then plugged them back in I've not had a problem since.

The reason I haven't already called SBC-du-jour is that I _know_ that the first question they'll ask (if they're on the ball) is what happens when I plug in a phone out at their box, and so far every time _that_ has worked -- and then the house has too. Do you think it's worth calling them although their box has passed the "phone line in" test every time I've done so?
15th-Apr-2007 05:07 pm (UTC)
Huh. I suppose it's possible that you have a phone that's gone insane and is occasionally taking itself off-hook. The more intelligent the phone, the more likely it is to be able to go insane. :-)

If their box is passing the test, it's not worth calling them... yet.
16th-Apr-2007 03:52 am (UTC)
Yah. I really hope it's not the Uniden -- When my old answering machine was on its last legs I sprung for an answering machine and set of 3 cordless phones -- surely the smartest phone -- and the one I use the most -- and the one that is acutally supposed to take itself off-hook ...
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