Intro: Uncluttering Phone Wires
When I went to connect my VoIP modem to my existing wiring, I noticed that my house's phone wires were a mess. I didn't want to connect anything else until I got this mess straightened out.
Some houses may have wires connected like this, but others may have all the connections made at the NID (Network Interface Device) outside. In that case, they are fine where they are.
I did a little searching to find the best way to fix it and decided this would be the neatest solution. I found a telephone wire junction box for $5 at Sears Hardware and decided to use it to clean everything up. This box has connectors for 6 conductor wires (allowing up to 3 separate lines) but I have mostly 4 conductor wire so that is how I set it up. The kit also comes with a standard RJ25 connector that I decided to remove so I could wire it directly to the wire coming from the NID. To remove the wire I clipped off the ring terminals that connected them to the posts.
I found another phone splitter that had some nice punch down connectors at Lowes, but at $40+ it was no match for the little $5 Phillips splitter.
Step 1: Installation
I started by mounting the box on a 2 x 4 that was already nailed to the floor joists. I tried to get the box as close to the original connections as possible so that I wouldn't have to stretch or extend the wires. I carefully cut the input wire from the jumble first and connected it to the junction box. I then selected the next easiest wires to separate and added them to the box as well.
Since I was using my household wiring with a VoIP phone (from my cable company), I could have disconnected the wire coming from the NID and everything still would have worked. Sometimes, you need to do this to eliminate excess noise, but since there was none and the phone worked fine without disconnecting it, I left it in place in case I wanted to go back to a regular POTS line.
The cable company will tell you not to connect the telephone out line from your cable modem to the phone line in your house because the modem only has enough capacity to power a single phone. Since most phones that people use these days are cordless and they require external power from a wall adapter, there shouldn't be any danger in overloading the modem. I have done this for years and never burned out a modem.
In my opinion, this is the best way to get the phone signal from where your VoIP modem is installed to where you actually want your phone to stay. I only really need 1 or 2 phones in my house, but I prefer to have all
of the jacks be live and be able to plug the cordless phone into any one of the pre-wired jacks.
Step 2: Tidy Wires
Now the wires don't look like a rats nest anymore. Before you couldn't help but stare at the jumble of unruly wires.
I added a jack for the wire coming from the cable modem's VoIP connector. This way I can disconnect the wire for troubleshooting or upgrading to a different service. The jack is wired in like any of the other jacks, but I mounted it near the modem in my utility room.
I upgraded from my old cable modem to the fiber optic service from my phone company. I mounted my old router (still necessary for some of my older wireless devices), my new router/modem/VoIP modem, and my RAP for work to a piece of plywood near the new network box. The phone wiring still works as it did before, but everything is much neater.
Step 3: Bonus: Adding a Phone Jack
I had good access to the upstairs through the basement ceiling, so I ran wires for the cable, Ethernet and a new phone line to a low voltage junction box. This box just clamps to the drywall or in my case, plaster and gives you something to attach the wall plate to.
I traced the outline of the lower voltage junction box on the wall. I cut around the outline on the wall with a drywall saw, which didn't work very well because this is plaster with an expanded metal mesh on the back instead of traditional wooden lath. I ended up coming back with a combination of my oscillating saw and tin snips to cut away the plaster and the metal until I had a hole that was the general shape I was looking for.
I bought some cheap fish-tape and fish-rods from a cheap tool store. I also bought a really nice extended drill bit on a flexible shaft with a handle to bend it into a wall opening. After measuring from a few reference points from below (previous holes from cable installers and steam pipes), I used this bit to drill up into the hollow of the wall above. I then used the fish tape to pull the wire through.
For the phone line, I just used the same CAT5e cable I was using for the Ethernet, and these connectors even showed the color codes for using 4 pair UTP cables as phone wire.
For the cable wire, I just used what the cable installer had strung all around my house. Why do cable installers insist on using 3 times the wire necessary to complete a job if it only saves them 2 minutes? I cut the end off the wire and pulled it back through the floor, then fished the wire much more neatly to the hole in the upstairs floor. I pushed the wire through the hole, crimped a new end on it and screwed it into the new jack plate.