SEM Security Systems
a division of Southeast Mobility Inc
So, your yellow light is on, the keypad is beeping, you've pressed *2 and the keypad is displaying a 3, or it reads out Phone Line Trouble.

This gets tricky sometimse because you are caught between what the phone company tells you and what we will tell you. First, let's go over the wiring of a phone line to a security panel. You should also return to the home page and select the "Facts" button and read about phone line facts. This is going to take a while so it may be a good time to get a fresh cup of coffee.

Ok, the phone line comes from the pole to your home and is connected to a box, usually close to your electric meter. From there the wires are ran into the home to all of your telephones. When we install an alarm panel we run a 4 conductor wire from your new panel out to that phone box. We disconnect all the wiring for the phones in the home and hook up the red and green conductors from our wire in their place. Then we twist all of the original wires onto the yellow and black conductors from our wire. This allows the alarm panel to sieze the line in the event of an alarm. So to review, the "dial tone" comes from the pole, to the box outside, to the alarm panel, back to the box outside, and then to the telephones inside the home.

If your panel is indicating a phone line trouble, chances are that you don't have dial tone on your telephones inside the home. The first thing that we have to determine is weither or not we are receiving dial tone from the pole. We do this by taking a stand alone telephone to the box outside. A stand alone telephone? Yes, that is a telephone that plugs directly into the telephone jack in the wall. It does not have an antenna, it does not use batteries, it does not plug into a 110volt wall outlet. Take this phone to the box outside along with a flat screw driver. You will see a screw on the right side of the box, loosen the screw and open the door. Inside the box you may see a couple of different configurations. Some have a short phone line, about 2 inches, that is pluged into a phone jack. Some will have a door that covers the terminal screws that when opened will expose a phone jack. Here you will have to apply a little common sense and locate this phone jack that is inside every box and plug that stand alone phone into the jack. If you have dial tone, it's probably time to call us and scheule a service call. If you do not have dial tone, it's time to call the phone company, but keep reading.

Now we need to get ready for the phone company to come a calling because when they see that alarm sign in your yard they are going to "know" instantly what the source of the problem is, it's something in the alarm system causing the problem, call your alarm company. In preperation for their arival you need to locate your alarm panel. No, the alarm panel is not the keypad, it's a putty colored box that is usually mounted in a closet or utility room. It's where all the wiring from your doors and sensors and connected. Once you've located the panel, open the door by removing the 1 or 2 screws that are holding it shut. Inside you will see something that we refer to as an RJ31. This is a beige color plastic box that has a phone jack in it. Unplug the phone jack from this box and leave it unplugged until the telphone company has completed their work.

What is an RJ31 and why did we unplug it? That phone wire that we ran from the panel to the box outside is connected to the RJ31, the plug that you removed from it is connected to the alarm panel circuit board. Inside the RJ31 are two shorting bars and when you unplug it, those shorting bars connect the red wire to the black wire and the green wire to the yellow wire. So what you have done is remove the panel from your phone line and now the dial tone comes from the box outside to the RJ31 and is sent right back outside to the phone box. Now if the phone repairman tells you that the problem is in your alarm system, you can tell him that the alarm system has been unplugged and can't be the source of the problem. This doesn't mean that there isn't a problem with the alarm panel, but we'll get to that later.

Why does the phone repairman often blame the alarm panel? Well, it's because they don't understand what the panel does in reguard to the phone line. What happens when the phone line goes dead is the panel says "hey, I need to call someone and tell them about this", but guess what, there is no dial tone and it can't call anybody so it puts that call in memory so that it can report it later when it gets a working telephone line. Now here comes the telephone repairman, he repairs the problem, the panel see's dial tone and says "alright! I've got dial tone so I'm going to call in and tell the monitoirng computer what I have in memory". So what happens? The panel seizes the line, making all the phones in the home go dead. The repairman see's this and disconnects the line, yep, he still has dial tone so he hooks the line back up, the panel see's dial tone again and repeats the process, and the repairman repeats his process. Eventually he decides that there is a problem with the security panel, cuts the wires going to it and tells you that there is a problem in the alarm panel and that you need to call your alarm company. If he would have hooked up the line and given the panel 60 seconds to do it's thing, the panel would have returned dial tone to the home and everyone would have been a happy camper. By unplugging the RJ31 you have eliminated this process.

Now that the phone company has left and the phones in the home are working, it's time to go back to the panel and plug that RJ31 back in. The panel will see the dial tone and if everything is working on the panel, the phones in the house will probably go dead while the panel calls in and dumps it's memory. Give the panel 60 seconds, or if the line has been out for several days it could take longer, and you should have dial tone back. If so, everything is good to go.

If the dial tone doesn't come back after a short time, go back to the panel and unplug the RJ31 again and check to see if you have dial tone on the phones in the home. If unplugging the RJ31 restores dial tone, it's time to contact us to schedule a service call.