My phone doesn't ring, or rings once then cuts off

There can be several reasons why you are experiencing problems with your phone's ringtone. It's not necessarily always a fault on the telephone network.

Below are a series of checks you can do to ensure that it's not your own equipment or wiring that is causing the problem.

If you carry out these checks thoroughly it could mean that you solve the problem yourself - saving your time and reducing frustration.

It also means that an engineer doesn't have to come to your home unnecessarily - avoiding you having to wait for a visit.

  1. Do you have a cordless telephone?

    If you have a cordless phone, it may not be fully charged or the batteries may be flat. Please check your product user guide.
  2. Check that the ringer on your telephone is switched on.

    This can usually be found on the base of your telephone. It is normally a small sliding switch that can be set to Hi, Lo, or Off. Ensure it is set to Hi.
  3. Do you have BT Call Minder (not BT Answer)?

    If you have BT Call Minder , check that the number of rings is set to more than 1.
  4. Do you have Call Barring set up on the line?

    If you rent the Call Barring  calling feature, check that you have not barred incoming calls.
  5. How many items of equipment do you have plugged into the line?

    If you have more than four telephones or other items of equipment plugged in, you may have exceeded your line’s REN. REN stands for ‘Ringing Equivalence Number’.

    To check if this is the problem, unplug all your equipment, and plug it back in again, one by one, until you locate which device is exceeding your REN limit. If this is the cause of the problem, you could buy an extension booster, which will boost the REN of your line.
  6. Check all your telephones.

    • Check all telephones are on hook.
    • Check all telephone cords including the handset cord are plugged in and secure.
  7. Unplug all your equipment.

    Please note: If you have an old style telephone that cannot be unplugged, please report a fault online.

    Unplug all telephones, faxes, PCs, modems, satellite television digi-boxes, extension leads and adaptors, double adaptors from all your telephone sockets.

    If you have broadband, don´t forget to unplug all micro-filters and your ADSL modem/router from the telephone sockets as well, as these may affect your telephone line.

    There shouldn't be anything left plugged in to your telephone socket.
  8. To test for a fault on equipment:

    Take one working corded (not cordless) telephone and plug into the main socket pictured below. The main socket is usually found where the telephone line comes into the premises. Check for the problem again by using the working phone.
  9. If the line rings at the main socket:

    Your telephone line and extension wiring are likely to be ok, and the problem is likely to be in one of your items of equipment.

    Plug each item of equipment that you have previously unplugged back in one at a time. Check for the line ringing once and stopping or not ringing at all by making test calls from a mobile or other landline.

    The item of equipment that causes the line to stop ringing or ring once may be faulty. Unplug this piece of equipment and keep unplugged. You should refer to any product manual supplied with this, or contact the supplier.
  10. If the line still does not ring, or rings once and stops:

    We now need to eliminate your own extension wiring as the cause of the problem. If your main socket looks like this socket, with a horizontal bar across the front template:


    Carefully unscrew the 2 small screws and the bottom half of the faceplate should slide out. On the right hand side is a test socket. This connects you directly to the telephone line and bypasses any extension wiring you may have.


    Plug the corded telephone into the test socket as above. Check for the line ringing once and stopping or not ringing at all by making test calls.

    Note if your main socket does not have a horizontal bar across the front and looks like this or something else:


    Do not unscrew the face plate. Please proceed to step 13 below.
  11. If the line rings at the test socket:

    It is likely that your internal wiring is faulty. You now have the choice of repairing the wiring yourself or contacting a telephone maintainer, who is likely to charge you unless the wiring is covered by a warranty.
  12. If the phone doesn't ring, or rings once and stops at the test socket:

    Try another corded (not cordless) phone into the main test socket to eliminate the first corded phone as being the cause of the problem.
  13. If the line still does not ring or rings once and stops at the test socket:

    It is likely that there is a fault with the telephone line and you will need to report this to your telephone service provider.

    If this is us, you can identify, fix, report and track faults online at the Repair Centre or contact us.

    If you rent your telephone from BT and believe it to be the cause of the fault, please contact us and we will arrange for a new telephone to be delivered to you.

    You can also buy telephones from us online at the BT Business Shop or please contact us.

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