How to Troubleshoot Landline Phones


Many home appliances and devices are better served by having a technician perform troubleshooting and repair. However, a landline phone is not as complicated as an ailing refrigerator, faucet or air conditioner. Also called wireline phones, these devices are fairly simple in design and construction. Phones are sold at many local retail stores. Making a landline phone operational is usually as simple as plugging its cord into a telephone outlet in the wall. If your phone is malfunctioning, take a similar uncomplicated approach for troubleshooting causes and finding remedies for some of its problems.

  • Look on the side or bottom of the telephone handset for the ringer button. Check to make sure it is set to ring in the "On" or "High" position. This ensures your equipment can alert you of incoming calls.

  • Dial "*73" (star, seven and three) on the telephone keypad to deactivate Call Forwarding. This prevents your phone calls from ringing another number that you are not monitoring.

  • Press the number and symbol keys on the keypad one by one, making sure not to dial a real phone number or 911. Dial a number, then hang up the phone before moving on to the next number. This tests to make sure your keys are not stuck in down or depressed position when you are attempting to dial a number. If a key is stuck, try to jiggle it back into its regular position.

  • Pick up the handset and listen for a fast busy signal. This means the telephone company has network problems on their end. You usually have to wait for its technicians to repair the problem at the company and with its equipment. Periodically pick up the handset, checking to see that the fast busy signal is gone and the problem fixed.

  • Unplug the telephone's cord from the wall and try another outlet in the home. If it works on an alternate outlet then the problem is not with the phone but with the wiring in the home. Contact the local telephone company for assistance with troubleshooting wiring problems.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you prefer to troubleshoot inside and outside phone wiring on your own first, see the links in the Resources section below to go to a Web page with generalized instructions.
  • If you are concerned about the cost of calling a technician, ask the phone company about service plans that would cover the costs. Sometimes the service plans go into effect immediately.
  • Troubleshooting inside and outside wiring can be a personal hazard and also void warranty and service provided by the telephone company. Call the company first and ask about policies barring customers from personally servicing wires.

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  • Photo Credit telephone pole image by robert mobley from
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