Monday, September 24, 2012

Operator Would You Put Me On Through

Within a couple days of moving into this home, the local bundle company for phone/internet/television showed up to hook up our bundle. At the time I hadn't had any time to really check things out and was slightly embarrassed when the utility room was just a snarled mess of coaxial cables and telephone wire, not to mention bromex electrical wire. The technician basically hooked up the televisions I wanted and left the rest of the coaxial cables tied in a neat knot dangling from the ceiling. He spliced into the phone system in the ceiling of the room that became our office and pretty much didn't touch the tangled mess in the utility room. I knew it would eventually bit me in the ass and it eventually did.

It started out one Sunday morning when we realized that none of our phones worked. Not sure why, I poked around and tried swapping phones and locations but nothing worked. Sunday was busy and so I didn't get a chance to do anything about it until Monday. I first called the bundle company and got the standard response that the first available time someone could come out was between eight and noon two days hence. Normally I would be pissed at having to take a half day of vacation to wait for someone to arrive but since I am not working (in a nine to five sense anyway) these days, I was relatively okay with this.

I spent several hours troubleshooting in the case I got lucky. I found out that I was getting a signal if I plugged a phone directly into the modem provided by the bundle company but it wasn't getting to the phones. Thus I suspected that something had happened with the wiring. I emailed a friend knowledgeable in such things and he pretty much reaffirmed my suspicions. By late in the evening on Monday, I had found a place in the utility room where while I was diagnosing another issue, I had inadvertently set a metal step ladder on a junction of telephone wires that were twisted together and now pressed into each other and thus shorting things out. I thought I had found my problem.

On Tuesday morning, I went to the local store to buy a junction box to clean up in the mess in the utility room and when completed, I discovered that I still had no phone service. Disappointed I started tracing wires to see where things went and that eventually led to me ripping out tens of yards of dead phone circuits running this way and that. I eventually had the whole system pared down by late in the evening and hooked back together but still no dial tone. Bummed, I gave up.

Wednesday showed up and eight o'clock rolled around. While waiting for the bundle guy to show up, I tackled other projects and watch nine, ten and eleven o'clock roll past. By a quarter till noon, steam was boiling out my ears at knowing that I was about to be stood up after waiting for four hours for them to show up. At five till noon, he finally called saying he would be there in a couple minutes. Twenty minutes later he arrived.

The guy was a really nice guy and followed me as I walked him through what I had done over the last three days while waiting for him. I followed him around peppering him with questions on how the system worked and how to trouble shoot it so that the next time, I'm fairly certain I can do so. The problem I had was that he went out to the box on the outside of the house, which was a huge snarled mess, and checked all the wires. He identified two wires as having shorts and after questioning one of those wires since it literally wrapped ten feet around the corner of the house to a previously working phone jack, he rechecked it only to find out it did indeed work. So I'm not sure I have any dead wires. With everything back together now and working, he buttoned things up and putting permanent crimped connectors to tie everything together, the system quit working. He opened everything back up, uncrimped his wires again and pulled another wire off the system. With everything back up and working, he told me he was going to leave the wire off since he didn't know where it went too and everything was working. If I ever found where it was needed, I could simply hook it back into the system. I told him that wasn't acceptable since everything had been working just minutes before and why didn't he humor me and hook it back into the system to ensure that it did indeed work. He did and everything worked. He buttoned everything up and recrimped the ends and everything went dead once more. I finally convince him that his crimped connectors weren't piercing through the insulation correctly or perhaps worse, cutting right through the light gauge wire and was causing the problem. He uncrimped them one more time and twisted the ends together and now the system was up and running once again.

So at the end of the day, I'm not sure what went wrong. The crimped connectors originally put on the system and the same one the technician had used had worked for a month. Perhaps my accidental shorting of the line in the utility room and caused one of the original crimped connectors to quit working. I don't know. All I know was that the system is back up and working and the price was right since his services were free, well besides the monthly rate I already pay. The silver lining is that should something every happen again, I'm fairly certain I can trouble shoot everything and get it back up and working, as long as I don't use any of their crimped connectors.


Vince said...

At least your lot will use their doodads to check the inside wiring. Here they believe that their duty ends at the box. Normally just inside the door. Where everything else is yours.

Vince said...

for some reason I cannot get the box for the e-mail follow up comments unless I comment a 2nd time.

Bone said...

My cable got to where it went out about once a month awhile back. The first time they came out I had already been outside to the box and somehow lucked up and fixed it. They inadvertently (I guess) left the box unlocked, so I just started going to fix it myself whenever it would go out. It was much quicker than waiting for someone to come out.

Ed said...

Vince - The telephone companies here do the same thing. The difference here is that this company comes in, routes new cables, wires, etc. to get their system up and running so I felt that they should be responsible for telling me what or where it wasn't working. The only diagnostic equipment they used was a telephone with the two wires hooked to alligator clips. I hope to turn a spare phone handset into one if this problem every happens again.

Bone - No kidding. I hate the give us five days and we will be there sometime between eight and noon routine. Once, when they told me that it would be eight days before they could get out to repair the line, I told them that was fine and I would just deduct 25% off my bill that month since I didn't have service. They came out that afternoon.

warren said...

You may have a new career set out for you...diagnostician!