Storm Damage and Lightning strikes

Lightning, storms, rain and Telephone wiring don’t mix very well! Storm damage and lightning strikes play havoc with telephone lines and sensitive electrical equipment. A lightning strike can travel along the BT Openreach Network and damage Telephone sockets, wiring and equipment such as cordless phones plugged in during a storm. Even with lightning protection surges can still manage to find their way to zap your Sky Box, TV and answering machines. If your phone line is dead after a thunder storm it’s time to do some tests and determine if you should call your service provider or an Independent Telephone Engineer. Test your handset in a neighbours house to make sure it still works OK. If your Service Provider finds that it is your own equipment or wiring causing a fault you will be charged heavily.

Storms in Essex

Over this weekend storms lightning and flooding hit a wide area across Essex and many houses have sustained storm damage. On one day there were in the region of 3000 lightning strikes across the UK. Cordless phones and answering machines are sensitive pieces of equipment and often fail because they are plugged into both the telephone line and electrical power socket providing a path between the two networks for a discharge.

Safeguard telephone equipment from Lightning and Storm Damage

The safe option if you expect lightning is to unplug telephones and televisions (as tv aerials can pick up the static charge too) until the storm has passed.

Lightning Protection

There is lightning protection fitted inside each Master Socket – even if it’s the old style. There is also lightning protection fitted at the telephone exchange, however a direct or indirect lightning strike in a storm can still cause serious damage. I’ve seen the front blown off of sockets, and blackened charred circuit circuit boards.

Lightning Damage to Filtered Front Plate or Fibre Socket

Lightning can often cause a fault to develop with the Filtered Front Plate or Fibre BT Infinity Front Plate. It contains sensitive electronic components and in the past has often failed after a storm. This is part of the BT Openreach installation and Master Socket, so if it causes a problem you should contact your Service Provider who will make an appointment for BT Openreach to visit. Replacement of the Front Plate should be free of charge. You must make sure you have carried out a test with a known good phone plugged into the Test Socket, with the part of the Front Plate removed that your extension wiring connects to.

Lightning Damage

Lightning damage and Storm Damage to telephone sockets and wiring connected after the BT Master Socket is your own responsibility and chargeable if you call out BT Openreach to fix it.

What to do if your line is dead after a storm

If your phone is dead, first make sure the handset is ok. Try your phone in a neighbours house to ensure it works. Then identify your Master Socket and using a small screwdriver remove the front plate. Plug your known good working phone into the test socket and check for dial tone. Make a test call to and from your mobile so you know everything is OK.

Replacement Cordless Phone

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Now that you have a working phone, carry on with the check at the master socket. If your line is now ok with the test plate removed, but when you plug the front plate back in it goes dead, then you have a short circuit fault on your own wiring or equipment and it looks likely that you have suffered Storm Damage from a lightning strike nearby. Don’t suspect the front plate – this is merely the symptom and not normally the cause.

Next, unplug all equipment

Unplug ALL filters, Sky Boxes and telephones from the other sockets in the house. It might be an inconvenience but doing this test will possibly save you money and get you back working quicker. Check again with your known good phone in each telephone socket. If you now have dial tone then the short circuit fault is in one of the pieces of equipment or filters you previously removed. One by one plug back in and test each time until you find the problem.

Line is still dead with no other equipment plugged in

If the line goes dead when the front plate is plugged in but there is no other equipment connected, then you have a wiring fault within your premises and need a local telephone engineer to trace the lightning damage and fix it. Give me a call and see if I can save you some money and time, and make it seem more like a ‘Storm in a tea cup’ ! 01702 200800