View Full Version : How to fix a broken or cut phone line or network cable yourself

08-25-2004, 10:26 AM
*Notice* This article is for informational purposes only. I take no liability at all if you choose to attempt this.

This little "how-to" goes out to a friend that is currently without service because her dear little cat decided it would chew through it for sport or recreation. Personally, I hope it got a little shock at the center of the "treat" and since the phone company is saying about 2 weeks before they can get out there, I bet she feels that way also..

What I do in my line of work is Audio, Video & Automation.. In simple terms, that is home theaters, multi-room audio system, touch screen controllers, low voltage lighting, computer networks, phone systems etc.. Etc.. While I have never worked for the phone company, I have handled miles and miles of phone & network cabling and terminating.. (Putting the connectors on them)

Most phone lines (depending on age and who built it) are going to have between 1 and 4 pairs of wire. Very old homes will likely have one pair and is going to be old and brittle. Old home phone wires are also substantially larger, or the size is a lower gauge (larger).

99.99% of phone wiring is color coded. Each individual wire will be a different color. If you have Category 5 wiring (4 "twisted" pairs - what I will be using as an example in the photos below), then each "pair" will have one solid color and one striped color. For example, "Orange". You will have a solid orange and a striped orange/white.

You always want to connect wires of the same color or color pattern, regardless of whether you are repairing a line or linking them to something else. Most people don't even see this as there are industry standards that only installers need to pay attention to. You just plug the phone cord into the wall and go.

Back to the home repair job...

Again, the wire that I am using as an example is Category 4 Twisted Pair wire that most new houses SHOULD be wired with and that is also used for computer network wiring. You may have some other type of wire but the repair job is basically the same whether you have one pair or a thousand. Just combine the colors. (Echo?)

I am sure some of you are wondering about "Voltage" or the possibility of getting shocked while messing with this. Phone lines run on low voltage. It is not like the power running appliances and other things in your house. Touching these wires with you bare hands will not hurt you. The most you may ever feel is a slight tingle but nothing like the high-voltage in your home or office.

Some of you may be wondering if the breaking of the phone line could cause other damage to phones etc. The answer to this is generally no unless you have a phone system (multiple phones with extension numbers usually found in office buildings) that is very sensitive. The chances of shorting out other system such as the phone line coming into your house are not very likely because the voltage (power) you are dealing with is so low. Almost always you end up with a temporary loss of service because the line is cut or the line is shorting out the system. Once repaired you should have your service working again.

The last thing I want to mention is that this is a temporary fix to the problem unless you do this properly with scotch-locks or wire crimps, etc. It should work fine until someone comes to do a full repair.

Photo / Step #1
I have a picture of the Cat-5 phone wire and a pair of scissors. I always use a pair of side cutters (Kline's) but since many people probably don't have these, a pair of scissors will work.

Photo / Step #2
Example of a broken line... I did this with wire cutters but you can pretend your cat, dog or child gnawed through it. Same result! Your phone is dead.. (And possibly you’re animal or kid depending on how mad you are)

Photo / Step #3
Stick your scissors or wire cutters into the break in the line and cut back the plastic skin that incases the smaller wires. Be careful not to cut any more of the wires. Chances are you won't unless you are really digging in there deep. I just inserted the tip of the scissors and pushed rather than snipped.

Photo / Step #4
This is the result you want to see. The wire casing was cut back exposing the individual pairs and the wires that were damaged.

Photo / Step #5
Separate the broken wire(s) from the good wires. In this case I am using the Orange pairs as an example.

Photo / Step #6
Strip back the shielding approximately 1/4 inch from the break on each of the wires. In this example I am using my wire cutters to do it but you can do it with your scissors or a knife. Be sure not to dig into the copper wire when stripping the wire. If you are really desperate you can use your teeth to pull off the shielding but you may end up getting a shock if the wire has power on it. Nothing major but still thought I should warn you.

Photo / Step #7
As you can see I have stripped back the wire shielding on all pairs that need to be reconnected. Your wires should look basically the same as this.

Photo / Step #8
Time to connect the broken/cut wires and restore service. Take the wires of the SAME color on each side of the break and twist them together like you were going to spin a game tack or roll something between your fingers. There must be a good connection on bare metal or it may not work, or could give you problems.

To do this right you really need wire connectors, Scotch-Locks, or some other type of wire connector.

After you have twisted the wires together, I would recommend that you put tape over the wires to keep them from shorting out by touching other wires. If you do not have any tape, I would suggest you pull the pairs away from each other.

Hope this helps!

08-25-2004, 11:06 AM
thanks Fed-x needed that info and I made sure to print it,great info and pics

08-25-2004, 11:09 AM
You're very welcome. :)

08-25-2004, 03:34 PM
Can you come over right away?

08-25-2004, 03:51 PM
Haha... I'm expensive. :p

08-25-2004, 10:14 PM
How expensive? LOL
I had to move my computer to another room because my phone line is dead in my Computer room.

08-25-2004, 11:08 PM
You going to fly me out? :p

Ever think about purchasing one of those wireless phone outlets?

They are about $90 but beats the heck out of knocking holes in sheet rock and all that jazz. I may actually have a pair burried some place from a job I did a few years back. Thought we were going to need them but didn't in the end. Those are installation tech sanity savers. If all else fails, you have an option!

Here's the link to them at Radio Shack:

08-26-2004, 06:26 AM
Thanks that may be the ticket to help me get my computer back where it belongs.

08-26-2004, 06:31 AM
Darn it. I guess I will have to figure it out on my own from your first posting. hahaha Thanks !!

08-26-2004, 07:11 AM
Well I looked into the specs of the system and you can only use this on a 14,000 bps modem.
I have DSL and it probably will not work for this.

08-26-2004, 07:14 AM
Soooo....where are you at? I'll check on the tickets to fly you out LOL.

08-31-2004, 10:33 AM

[color=black]What I do in my line of work is Audio, Video & Automation.. In simple terms, that is home theaters, multi-room audio system, touch screen controllers, low voltage lighting, computer networks, phone systems etc.. Etc.. While I have never worked for the phone company, I have handled miles and miles of phone & network cabling and terminating.. (Putting the connectors on them)

I have a question for you; our phone service box is across the street on another property. Is there any way to either get a box over here, or find a way to boost the data going over the line? I am using EV1 dial up. I used to get 50.6 kbps Now I'm lucky if I get 33.3
I know the most of the problem is, as I said, the service box being so far away. Do you think there would be anything I can do from my end to help it along? Maybe new wiring, or something? I'm also in Houston, by the way.