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Install a second (third) telephone line

Dear Ms. Builder: Our kids are always on AOL and we need another telephone line. The telephone company only brings it to the house and then charges extra to wire it indoors. Is this something I can do myself? - Carolyn K.

Dear Carolyn: Adding additional telephone lines or wall jacks is a task that anyone can handle. The voltage on the telephone lines is low and not hazardous. All of the wiring is color-coded in pairs so you will have no problem keeping track of the sets of wires.

When someone calls your telephone, the voltage steps up a little for the ringer. You may feel a very slight tingle, but it is not dangerous. I just wanted to warn you so your kids aren't alarmed when your hair stands on end. I have never heard of any electrocution deaths from telephone lines.

As a brief background, each telephone requires only two tiny wires. The same two wires that carry your voice signal also carry the ringer signal. If you have two telephones, you need two sets of two wires. If you have three telephones, you need three sets and so on.

The first thing to do is remove the existing telephone jack wall cover. Check the type of wires your house now has. Older houses usually have a red, green, yellow and black wire in the cable. This is not the best wiring, but it is adequate.

Newer homes will have a cable with three or four six color-coded sets of wires. Each of the sets (for example, one blue/white and white/blue) is twisted together to minimize interference. The other sets are colored in green, brown and orange.

Here is the quickest way to wire the new line. If you have the old four wire cable, the red and green are almost always used for the first telephone line. Attach the yellow and black wires to the termination block where the telephone company attached the new line.

Remove the jack faceplate on the wall where you need the new telephone the most. You will probably see the red and green wires attached to screws on the back of the jack. Screw the yellow and black wires to the remaining two jack terminals if they are not already attached.

You now have your telephone jack set up for a two-line telephone which you can buy for about $35. A two-line telephone is convenient because you can put one line on hold while you talk on the other or have three-way calls.

If you want to plug in two regular one-line telephones or one telephone and your computer modem, buy a line splitter for a few dollars at Radio Shack. This separates the one two-line jack into two one-line jacks. You are done.

If you have the higher quality twisted multi-connector cable, follow the same procedure. The blue/white pair of wires is probably now used for your old primary telephone line. Pick any of the other sets for the new telephone and attach it like the yellow and black described above.

That was the quick down and dirty method. If you would like to install a totally new jack for your modem, you will have to run a new wire to it. Choose Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) approved 22-gauge twisted pair cable.

If your kids are like mine, get a cable with at least four sets of wires. As soon as you install the second telephone line, it will be busy all the time too and you will need a third.

I generally prefer to "home run" to each new jack. This means running a separate cable from the termination block to each new jack. This uses more wire, but it is easier to troubleshoot any problems you experience.

Tools and materials required: screwdriver, wirestripper/cutter, four wire-set cable, line splitter, jacks, electric tape.

Send questions to: Ms. Builder, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, Ohio 45244 or visit www.dulley.com/msbuilder. 656 words

Send questions to: Ms. Builder, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, Ohio 45244 or visit www.dulley.com/msbuilder.