Why Does Rain Effect Our Phone System?

We had a customer call telling us that their phones kept “going out”. We had them reboot the system and they said it was working again and stable. We didn’t think much about it until a month or so later when they called again complaining of the same symptoms, but now the voicemail system wouldn’t work at all.

We went onsite and started investigating. In this location the phone system is located in a basement utility room. While looking thru log files in the phone system we found that the system had been rebooting every 30 minutes for a couple of hours and then it would be fine again. This would go on for a day or two and then the logs would be clean for days or weeks at a time. Strange. Followed the power cord down and found it was plugged into a battery backup, which is good, but there was other equipment plugged in as well. While following those power cords we bumped into the sump pump drain pipe that was going up and out of the building. It kicked on and started pumping water, but at the same time the phone system went dark. As soon as the pump turned back off the phone system started rebooting. Turns out that the battery backup that was running everything couldn’t support the loads that were plugged into it and every time there was a fair amount of rain is when they were having the problems.

After moving the phone system to a straight electrical outlet and suggesting they purchase a new dedicated battery back-up, they have been without these power outages. The down side is that this problem ended up destroying their voicemail system beyond repair and we had to replace the entire system. That’s a pretty large expense that could have been averted with a $200 battery backup.

The moral of the story, just because you have space to plug it in, doesn’t mean that you should.

Brad “the phone guy” Carr


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