Installing telephone wiring is a relatively easy task to perform. Additionally, the potential hazard of electrocution is significantly nullified because of the wiring’s low voltage. In fact, the most challenging part of installing telephone wiring is ensuring that you adhere to the corresponding standards. If you are installing additional telephone wiring, it is perhaps best not to deviate from the standards that were used in the initial process. For an area that does not have any existing telephone wiring already installed then it is advisable to use the EIA/TIA T586A standard.

The wire always terminates on a Network Interface Device, or NID, despite the multiple ways in which a home may be wired for a telephone line. This device may be a grey or tan box about eight inches wide and twelve inches long with a door or doors covering either of two compartments. A customer can access the customer compartment using a slot headed screw. However access to the telco compartment is limited because of the specialized screw head that is used to secure that compartment. You may need to open the compartment of the NID for any of the following reasons:

  • Check your lines for dial tone
  • Check wiring connections inside the NID
  • Trace lines coming out of the NID into your home

You will not need to open the telco compartment of the NID, because you will not likely be able to repair any faults that may occur within this compartment. The typical NID can house as much 5 different lines.

The telephone line from the pole or breakout box will enter the telco compartment and then exit through the customer compartment.

If you are currently using a single phone line that has not incurred any maintenance work you may be using a box that preceded the NID. This box may be metal or plastic and is used to protect the telephone wiring from external impediments. If you currently have an older box the telephone company may replace it with an NID at no cost if you are experiencing any issues with said box. In some cases, the phone company technicians may leave the original box in place, and simply install an NID between the older box and the wiring running to the pole or breakout box. It’s important to note that this method will have no effect on the quality of your phone service, meaning your service will remain intact.

Testing Your Phone Line

When testing your phone line, use a working corded phone to ensure the validity of the test. This ensures that any issues that you may experience while testing the line will be as a result of the phone line and not the telephone. To ensure the phone is working test the phone in a working jack at another location that has an operational phone line.

Testing the phone is simple and straightforward, plug the phone into the jack and listen for a dial tone. If you do not get a dial tone then your line is probably not functional. Test all the jacks in your home to find out which ones work and which ones do not. The ones that do not work will indicate a problem with the telephone wiring. For those lines that are not working the telephone company may have to carry out repairs which may attract a fee. If you find that all lines are down you will need to perform the test at the NID.

Once you have opened the customer compartment of your NID, you may notice that there is a lay out consisting of vertically aligned telephone jacks. Each jack will correspond with a phone line that is currently in use in your home. If you notice more jacks than telephone lines in your home it may simply mean that either the previous owner has more lines or the telephone company installed a few additional jacks. There should be clear labels on the NID lid which will tell you which jack correspond with which phone line or number. If there are no labels then you may have to manually figure out which line corresponds to which jack in the house. To perform this test, you will need to disconnect the line from the jack and then plug your corded phone into it. If you get a dial tone at the NID then the wiring fault is within your home. If you do not get a dial tone then you will need to call the telephone company.

The installation of new telephone jacks in your home is a relatively uncomplicated procedure. You will need a few tools and basic hardware to carry out the installation:

Telephone Wiring Tools

Drill: You will need a drill if you are running new lines in between house floors or if you simply want to hide most of the wiring in the wall, or through crawlspaces or attics.

Drill bits: You will need a variety of bits for creating holes of different sizes and for use in concrete or wood depending on your work area requirements.

Flathead Screwdriver: You will need a flathead screw driver because all wiring blocks use slotted screws for the wire connections and for the jack box mounts.

Fish tape: You will need fish tape to run your wiring through walls.

Cable Test Equipment: You will need cable test equipment to test your newly installed jack if you are not able to get a dial tone.

Telephone Wiring Hardware

Modular jack boxes with wiring box: Modular jack boxes may be bought in two varieties: with a wiring box or without one. If you are installing a completely new jack, you should get the jack box with the wiring box. You would only be required to get a jack box without a wiring box if you are replacing a jack box that has suffered some damages but which still has a wiring box that is intact. You can purchase either a four or six contact modular jack. A four contact modular box will suffice unless you have an additional reason for obtaining a six contact modular jack. You will need to purchase one jack box for each new jack you would like to install.

Four, six or eight strand telephone wire: You should purchase four wire flat silver satin telephone wire for any new jacks you will be running into your home. You may save a small amount of money if you opt to buy the individual wires without the silver sheath, but in the long run, having the sheath will save you a lot of time and frustration.

The Christmas and Halloween Standard for Telephone Wiring

Many homes currently have only 2 pair (4 wires) telephone wiring. The first telephone line is usually connected to the Christmas pair. This wire pair is deemed the Christmas pair because one wire is Green while the other wire is Red. In the Christmas pair, the Green wire is designated Tip and the Red wire is designated Ring. The second telephone line is connected to the Halloween pair. This wire pair is deemed the Halloween pair because one wire is Black and the other wire is Yellow. In the Halloween pair, the Black wire is designated Tip and the Yellow wire is designated Ring.

Telephone Wiring Pin Number Orientation

Pins are those with numbers with the tab down. When inspecting a telephone jack, Pin 1 is the left-most pin. When observing a telephone plug, Pin 8 is the right-most pin.

Jacks and Plugs

In telephone wiring terms, the plug is the male end of a telephone cable and the jack is the female outlet in the wall.

Tip and Ring

The terms Tip and Ring are used unfailingly when discussing telephone wiring. Tip is defined as the electrically positive wire and Ring is defined as the electrically negative wire.