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Clever Do-It-Yourself Tip: Rewiring your home telephone network

I admit it. In January 2005, I chose Vonage as my home telephone service shortly after moving into my (our) new home. No, that’s not what I’m admitting. The problem was when I decided to try and close the wiring loop inside the home, which numerous websites detail how, so that I could use any of my phone outlets with the Vonage service, I screwed up. I broke a few rules when doing any home renovation or repair.

Here’s what I did wrong:

  1. I failed to take pictures and make diagrams of the wiring before I decided to unhook everything from the Network Interface Unit (that grey box on the outside of your house where the phone company’s wires connect to your own home’s internal wiring).
  2. I didn’t read enough forums to understand what I needed to do.
  3. Aren’t 1 and 2 enough?

So almost a year and a half later, when I want to switch to DSL to save $30 a month, I’m stuck with either paying Verizon or another contractor $100 or more to fix my mistake, or try to fix it myself. Well, I ordered phone service Tuesday and it was turned on today (Thursday). It was Judgment Day. I would try to figure it out myself first. The problem was there were so many more wires than I expected, and so many different colors! I counted 8 different colors when the only nodes in the NIU were red and green. There was orange and white, white and orange, blue and white, white and blue, black, yellow, and the trusty green and red. However, there were 3 greens and 3 reds!

Luckily, I found an excellent resource to guide me titled Doing Your Own Telephone Wiring. It explained the 4 colors, red, green, black and yellow, are from the old cabling. Newer Cat5 cables have the oranges and blues. It has a handy chart to help line up which colors should be on the green node and which on the red.

I did have another problem though. When I was unhooking wires last year, I snapped off the metal connector from the green node in box #1. To fix that, I opened up Verizon’s side of the box and rewired the red and green from box #6 to where box #1 was.

I don’t consider myself an electrician, or even a really handy guy, so it was quite exciting when I came inside to find that all my outlets, except the 1 upstairs, worked! My home is 65 years old, so the wiring was done well after the home was built, so I hope that some wires are just crossed or not hooked properly somewhere for the upstairs outlet.

I hope this post helps you in your own home telephone wiring endeavor. Just make sure that you draw a diagram and take pictures so if, or when, you screw up, you can put it back the way it was. Also, be sure to unplug the telephone jack in the NIU before touching the wires (that disconnects the incoming signal from your home’s wires) or else if someone calls, you could get quite a shock!

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Clever Dude

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