Here are some tips on trouble-shooting common problems associated with old telephones. I want you to try some simple trouble-shooting so you don't have to unnecessarily ship your phone for repairs that you might be able to do at home.

Telephone Won't Ring: If you have an older 3-conductor line cord, with  green, red, and yellow conductors, the ringer may not be "bridged." Try connecting the yellow and green line cord wires together on the same binding post. This will connect the ringer into the circuit and it should operate. However, your old phone may have a "party line" ringer that is not tuned to the regular ringing frequency. In this case, the ringer must be replaced. Read more about party-line ringers

Other Party Can't Hear Me: Unscrew the transmitter cap from the handset (the part you talk into). The transmitter button will fall out. It is held in by the cap and is easily replaced. Look at the springs which contact the element. Are they bent down? A good test is to push the element down on the springs and see if there is mechanical resistance. If the connection between the springs and the transmitter isn't good, the other party will not be able to hear you well if at all. If you want to eliminate the element as a possible trouble, plug in the phone and short across the 2 springs with a screwdriver. If you hear static from the receiver, most likely the transmitter is open and must be replaced. If you don't hear static, most likely the handset cord has an open conductor. A quick way to "revive" transmitter elements with low sound output is to remove it from the handset, turn it sideways and tap it on a hard surface. You don't have to tap hard, just enough to loosen up the carbon particles inside of the element. If they have "packed" during long periods of inactivity or storage of the telephone, this will loosen the carbon and in many cases restores sound quality and output after you have replaced it in the handset.

Can't Hear Other Party: If the phone rings in, but you can't hear any conversation, you must eliminate the receiver as a possible trouble. This is best done by having another phone on the line. If you can talk into the "dead" phone and hear the words on the other phone, then you have to look for trouble with the receiver element. Unscrew the receiver cap and take out the element. Look at the springs that make contact with the element. Are they making good contact? If you put the receiver element back in and push down, you can feel mechanical resistance if the springs are OK. The only sure way to test a receiver element is with an Ohmmeter. Or, substitute a similar element. If the element is OK, the problem may be the handset cord or inside of the phone (with the dial).

Can Hear And Talk, Can't Dial Out (rotary dial phone): First, be certain that your telephone company has equipped your line for Rotary Dial use. If other dial phones work OK on your line, the dial is out of adjustment and must be sent in for repair and adjustment. Even though the dial may be pulsing, if the pulse duration is too long or too short, the Central Office equipment won't receive the pulses correctly.

Can Hear And Talk, Can't Dial Out (touch tone phone): Try reversing the red and green line cord wires at the jack. Older touch tone pads don't have "Polarity Guards" and won't operate if the line wires are reversed. If the phone still won't work, the pad must be sent in for repairs. We can also install a Polarity Guard for very little cost. See our low-cost alternative, last paragraph.

Dials Wrong Numbers (touch tone phone): The internal switches may be corroded. Try punching each key about ten times. This will "wipe" the switch contacts and may restore operation of the pad. Otherwise, the pad must be sent in to be cleaned and re-tuned.

Touch Tone Pad won't make any tones, but worked in another jack: In older touch tone pads, there is no provision for what is known as Polarity Guard. When there was a Bell System, your telephone line was always designated as Tip and Ring. Because the line wires were never reversed, the transistor in the touch tone pad always worked. In modern systems, the line wires can be reversed by the phone company at any time and even your wall jacks may be reverse-wired from room to room. If your touch tone pad stops working, try reversing the red and green wires in your jack. In many cases, this is all that is necessary.

I'll do my best to help you diagnose the troubles with your old phone. I'm not always here, but when you reach me I will always have time to talk to you at 928-859-3595. Remember, the repairs to your old phone need not be expensive. I will always contact you first to get approval of the cost of repairs before completing them.

Steve Hilsz, Technician

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