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


Need Help with Your Phone System? Give our Friendly Staff a Call @ 847-398-3393 or click here https://wirelineinc.com to learn more about Wireline

Emergency Alerts & Unique Paging Systems

More and more employers are stepping up the security and safety policies for the well-being of their staff. Recently we have been asked for some unique emergency alert systems to be added onto existing and new overhead paging systems. They have been predominantly for warehouses and large campuses, but would work in a typical office environment as well. The situations vary from site to site, but one thing holds true. How do you inform employees of a dangerous situation in a quick manner? It started about a year ago when we were asked to design a new paging system to replace the original one that was approx 50 years old. They were expanding to a 3rd building in one square block. The need was to be able to page separate buildings for day to day reasons, but in an emergency be able to page all the buildings at the same time, including the rooftops where building engineers could also be located.

This part is pretty typical however, the challenge was that they wanted the speakers in every conference room to be turned down and off by a volume control in the room itself. Using our knowledge of the Bogen and Viking brands of paging equipment and with their design team help, we came up with a cost effective solution that will last for decades. The emergency page can be reached by anyone by dialing a code from their phone system. It will cover all areas and override any muted speakers in the conference room. To enhance functions even more, we created emergency switches at the main reception desk, which, when switched on, will create either a tornado siren or a fire alarm sound indicating to everyone real time that danger is imminent and they need to take cover immediately.

A few months later we were designing a similar system for another customer and they wanted to take it a little further by adding a third alert for an intruder. However, they wanted to skip the switches and be able to turn it on from any phone by dialing a code for each alarm. They dial the code and the alarm starts going until they dial the code a 2nd time. For this site we even had professionally recorded messages that would play. Eg <tornado siren sound>, then “tornado warning, please take cover,” followed by the same message in Spanish.

Most recently in a food manufacturing facility, they needed all these options but the biggest complaint? Pages were too loud when machines were off, but not loud enough when they were in operation. The solution? A small microphone that listens for the current noise levels and then adjusts the volume in real time!

All of these sites undergo a monthly test of the systems. This ensures that everyone knows how to operate it in case of a real emergency and that the employees know what to do when it happens.


Brad “the phone guy” Carr

Need Help with Your Phone System? Give our Friendly Staff a Call @ 847-398-3393 or click here https://wirelineinc.com to learn more about Wireline

International Call Fraud & How to Minimize Risk

Hackers are always going to be a threat to anything that is connected to the outside world. That includes computers, cell phones, and phone systems. Even if your phone system isn’t connected to the Internet, it doesn’t mean that it’s not vulnerable to bad people wanting to do bad things. We have had a few clients (ones that we didn’t install originally) over the years call us in a panic that their long distance provider was telling them they were hacked. When it happens the long distance and international bills can add up to thousands of dollars overnight. Most telecom carrier contracts put you liable for these fraudlent calls!

Basically what hackers will do is guess one of your voice mailbox and password combinations and then setup some type of forwarding. Then when they call into your system (usually overnight and on weekends when it won’t be noticed as quickly) they dial an extension which transfers them to a 2nd outside line, and then gives them a dial tone. Once they have dial tone they can dial anything you can dial from your desk. Nowadays most carriers block 900 and 976 numbers, but most still allow international calling. Depending on the country dialed, the charges could be over a dollar a minute. Once the hacker has got your system in their control, they will sell your info on the black market and your system will make calls all over the world.

There are easy ways to protect yourself.

First, if you don’t need to make international calls have your long distance carrier set  international calls to be blocked completely or at least require a PIN number.

Second, would be to make sure the administrative mailbox passwords (0 out mailbox, system greeting mailbox, etc) is not using a default password or one that is simple like 1234 or 0000.

Third would be to require your employees to change their passwords on a regular basis. Some phone systems can be set to force the changes on a calendar setting.

Fourth, have your phone system programmer lock down the voicemail system to not be able to make long distance or international calls. This feature is usually referred to as “destination restriction” or “class of restriction.” Wireline came up with this solution close to 10 years ago and it always surprises me when I look through a system programmed by another company when it doesn’t have this simple safety feature in place.

Unfortunately without extensive technical knowledge of your system, it’s not easy to test if your system is vulnerable. A quick service call now can save you thousands of dollars in money and in time.

Brad “the phone guy” Carr

Need Help with Your Phone System? Give our Friendly Staff a Call @ 847-398-3393 or click here https://wirelineinc.com to learn more about Wireline

Business Grade Cell Phone APPS

As smart phones take over the world so do the Apps that make them “smart”.  The Toshiba phone system supports a few different apps. From being able to have visual voicemail, to easily changing your voicemail greetings. “There’s an app for that”, as they say!

The one I find most helpful is being able to call out from my cell phone by using the caller ID of my office phone number. I like it for the fact that when people return my call that they always call my office number, it’s just easy. I don’t have to have two different numbers to give out and I don’t have to give out my personal cell phone number.
I can have it ring my desk, then my cell, both at the same time, or send all the calls straight to voicemail.

From a service company’s perspective, clients calling your techs directly is not usually a good thing. It distracts your techs, calls might not make it back to your office for proper ticketing (and billing!), and then what happens when the tech moves on to another company? Do you want your customers following them?

Set a policy that they need to make their calls thru the app, then when clients call back, the talk to the office get into your dispatch system properly.


Brad “the phone guy” Carr

Need Help with Your Phone System? Give our Friendly Staff a Call @ 847-398-3393 or click here https://wirelineinc.com to learn more about Wireline