Help & tips
You are here: Your account help > Faults > I have no dial tone

I have no dial tone

There can be several reasons why your phone line doesn't have a dial tone. It's not necessarily always a fault in the telephone network.
Below are a series of checks you can do to ensure that it's not your own equipment or wiring that is causing the problem.
If you carry out these checks thoroughly it could mean that you solve the problem yourself - saving your time and reducing frustration.
It also means that an engineer doesn't have to come to your home unnecessarily - avoiding you having to wait for a visit.

1- Do you have a cordless telephone?
  • If you have a cordless phone, it may not be fully charged or the batteries may be flat. Please check your product user guide.

  • 2 - Check all your telephones
  • Check all telephones are on hook.
  • Check all telephone cords including the handset cord are plugged in and secure.

  • 3 - Does this happen on all telephones in the house, or just one?
  • Check If the problem only occurs on one telephone, it is unlikely there is a fault with the telephone line, but the telephone itself is likely to be faulty.

  • 4 - Unplug all your equipment
    (Note - If you have an old-style telephone that cannot be unplugged Go to Direction 10.)
  • Unplug all telephones, faxes, PC's, modems, satellite television digi-boxes, extension leads and adaptors, double adaptors from all your telephone sockets.
  • If you have broadband, don't forget to unplug all micro-filters and your ADSL modem/router from the telephone sockets as well, as these may affect your telephone line.
  • You should now have nothing plugged into any telephone socket.

  • 5 - To test for a fault on equipment
  • Take one working corded (not cordless) telephone - you may be able to borrow from a neighbour - and plug into the main socket pictured below. The main socket is usually found where the telephone line comes into the premises. Check for the problem again by using the working phone.

  • 6 - If you can make calls at the main socket
  • Your telephone line and extension wiring are likely to be ok, and the problem is likely to be in one of your pieces of equipment.
  • Plug each piece of equipment that you have previously unplugged back in one at a time. Check for dial tone. The piece of equipment that causes problem may be faulty. Unplug this piece of equipment and keep unplugged. You should refer to any product manual supplied with this, or contact the supplier.

  • 7 - If the problem persists at the main socket
    We now need to eliminate your own extension wiring as the cause of the problem.
  • If your main socket looks like this socket (with a horizontal bar across the front template).

  • main socket

  • Carefully unscrew the 2 small screws and the bottom half of the faceplate should pull out. On the right hand side is a test socket. This connects you directly to the telephone line and bypasses any extension wiring you may have.

  • open socket

    Plug the corded telephone into the test socket as above. Check for the problem by making test calls from the working telephone. Note if your main socket does not have a horizontal bar across the front and looks like this:

    old style

    Do not unscrew the face plate, instead refer to instruction number 10.

    8 - If you can dial out at test socket
  • It is likely that your internal wiring is faulty. You now have the choice of repairing the wiring yourself or contacting a telephone maintainer, who is likely to charge you unless the wiring is covered by a warranty.

  • 9 - If the problem persists at the test socket
  • Try another corded (not cordless) phone into the main test socket to eliminate the first corded phone as being the cause of the problem.

  • 10 - If the problem still persists at the test socket
  • It is likely that there is a fault with the telephone line and you will need to report this to your telephone service provider.
  • If your telephone service provider is BT, you can report a fault 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    • Online
    • Residential Customers 0800 800 151
    • Business Customers 0800 800 154

  • If you rent your telephone from BT and believe it to be the cause of the fault, please contact our faults department and we will arrange for a new telephone to be delivered to you. You can also buy telephones from us: