How to troubleshoot for no dial tone on your phone

If you don't have dial tone on any of your phones, begin troubleshooting by figuring out whether the problem is happening inside or outside your home.

Checking outside: Is signal getting to your home?

If signal isn't getting to your house, you won't have dial tone on any of your phones, and the problem is probably outside your home. To test if this is issue:

Locate your Network Interface Device (NID).

  • The NID links the telephone network to the wiring inside your home. It's where our outside wiring meets your inside wiring.
  • NIDs are usually 6" by 9" gray boxes attached to the outside wall of your home. (If you don't see it outside, look in your basement or attic.)

Outdoor NID
Indoor NID

Note: If you live in an apartment, ask your building manager. If you live in a mobile home, the NID may be attached to a pole on your lot.

Test your outdoor NID.

  1. Use a screwdriver to open the cover marked "Customer Access."
  2. Remove the plug from the test jack.
  3. Plug a working, corded telephone into the test jack.

If you don't hear a dial tone or the tone is faint, unclear or intermittent, then the problem is with our equipment. Request a repair visit, and we will send out a technician. You will not be charged for the technician's visit.

If you hear a clear dial tone, then the problem is somewhere inside your home. You still may be able to fix the problem yourself.

Did you know? When a technician comes to your home, one of the first things he/she does is check if you have signal coming to your home. Our techs start troubleshooting exactly the way we're recommending you do.


If would like to see these steps demonstrated, watch this video:


Tip: Technicians use a "test phone" to check for signal. "Test phone" is a fancy way to describe a basic, corded phone. It's helpful to have a test phone handy when you're having phone problems. It makes troubleshooting much quicker and easier.

Checking inside: Are your jacks and wiring working?

If you have dial tone, then signal is getting to your home, and you need to keep troubleshooting. You could be having a problem with your jacks or wiring. These kinds of problems can impact one or multiple phones.

To isolate the problem:

  1. Hang up all your phones. Double check they're all hung up correctly. Hang up any that are off the hook. Wait a moment, and see if this corrects the problem.
  2. Unplug equipment and test jack.
    • Unplug all your equipment. First, unplug your phones from both their jacks and electrical outlets. Next, if you have any other equipment that uses a jack, unplug that equipment as well. (For instance, satellite receivers, computer modems, Caller ID boxes, fax machines, answering machines and alarm/security systems typically use phone jacks and can cause interference on the line.)
    • Test your jacks. After you've unplugged all your equipment, wait 1 minute and then plug a corded phone into each outlet. Testing 1 jack at a time, you should hear a clear, strong dial tone when you test each outlet. If you don't, make a note of which outlets don't seem to be working and what you heard when you tested them with your corded phone.

If all your jacks have clear, strong dial tone, the problem is probably with your phone. Try replacing it.

If the dial tone on one (or more) of the jacks is faint, unclear or intermittent, you probably have an inside wiring problem.