2014/08/04 (M) Phone Problems

My first task this morning was to sand all of the drywall compound and apply a second/finish coat to the walls I have been building/repairing in the garage.  Simple enough to describe but it took some time to do.  While the compound was drying I resumed working on electrical wiring.

Our phone went dead yesterday, or at least that’s when we noticed it was not working (no dial tone, no incoming or outgoing calls).  I got a call (on my Verizon cell phone) from Ken, the AT&T service technician, around 9 AM indicating that the phone was fixed but he was on his way to our house to verify service at the network interface box.  The phone was indeed working, but now the DSL was not.  🙁

Ken told me that he did not have a dial tone back at the distribution box and rather than diagnose why, they usually switch the customer to another wire pair.  He spent the entire morning working on the problem, making several trips between our house and the distribution box.  By the time he was done we were on different wires from our house all the way back to the switching station.  He was now getting a dial tone and an active DSL signal at our network interface box but we did not have a DSL connection at our AT&T gateway.

Ken had mentioned earlier that the phone signal requires two good wires but the DSL will run on just one.  That had raised a flag in my mind and I asked Ken if reversing the two wires might cause the problem we were seeing?  He said he had never heard of the DSL signal being polarity sensitive, but it wouldn’t affect the phone operation so he switched the wires and … it worked!  We got a momentary false alarm until we discovered that the phone cable from the DSL splitter/filter to the phone had a broken tab and would not stay plugged in.  I replaced the cable and everything was OK.

Linda was going to help me but she was on her feet a lot the last three days and her right knee was expressing its displeasure so she decided to take it easy today.  Brendan and Shawna needed to borrow the pressure washer and Linda needed a few ingredients from Whole Foods for her granola recipe, so she drove to Ann Arbor to accomplish those chores.  She stopped at Lowe’s on the way back and picked up a 50′ role of 14-2+g NM electrical cable.  Ken left around 1 PM and we had a light lunch of chickpea salad and fresh nectarines.

There are too many cables going through the wall top plate above the sub-panel in the garage for me to comfortably drill new holes to run more.  I was puzzled for a while as to what I would do, and then realized I could create openings in the ceiling (drywall) directly above the sub-panel for new wires as this area will ultimately be boxed in.  I used the Porter-Cable oscillating saw I bought a couple of weeks ago to cut a long slot for new wires.  It was the right tool for the job.  The NM cables should have fed up into the attic easily, but they didn’t.  A peak in the attic confirmed that they were running into plywood on the original garage roof.  The plywood was cut back for access purposes where the breezeway (library) roof ties in, but no more than necessary.  The sub-panel is towards the northeast corner of the garage and the original garage rafters/plywood are only about eight inches above the drywall.  I had planned to run four cables today but needed Linda’s help.  I got two of them started and then turned my attention to other things.

I had a work session of the FMCA education committee at 4 PM so I  wrapped up my construction work an hour prior to that to give me time to switch gears and get somewhat organized.  The work session was via teleconference and lasted about an hour.

We got a call around 8 PM from Darryll.  He planned to order the garage furnace, the library HVAC unit, and the 2″ iron pipe tomorrow for delivery on Wednesday and wanted to make sure that was OK.  He planned to start work on Thursday assuming the materials got delivered on Wednesday.


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