Cutting the Cord (Literally) on the Landline Phone For Improved Curb Appeal

You probably know by now that I hate wires and will go to any lengths to hide plugs, cables, electronics, and things of the sort throughout our home. While you can’t spot a single wire inside the house, the outside was a different story.

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Over the years, our house gained a few additions in the technology department. It has always had electricity, but then it got a phone line, and then a cable line, then another phone line, then satellite, then another cable line to route to another room, and so on. By her 100th birthday, our house had wires, conduit, and cables on every side of her. Naturally, I wanted all of this visual clutter gone. After all, we have a crawl space which is perfect for hiding this stuff - why should the exterior walls be littered with dangly cords?

Within the first few months of moving in, we tackled the project of removing all of the nonfunctioning stuff tacked on to the outside of the house. It’s as simple as making sure you’re not cutting live electrical wires, snipping them at the source, giving them a yank, then patching and painting the ghost of where they once were.

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The cable running from the crawl space, along the window, over the shingles, under the eaves, and onto the roof? Gone! (The aluminum bay window is another story, we’ll be getting rid of that soon.)

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The rusty satellite dish that you could see from the street? Gone! The pile of excess cable conduit piled next to the chimney? Gone!

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I pulled down all of the lights and piping including the one that traveled across the driveway to the garage. Talk about visual clutter. You can see the very satisfying process in the video here.

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If you’re able to look away from the gorgeous new door, you can see just how much cleaner it feels without all of the gunk under the eaves. Yes? Yes.

Word of caution: Always consult a professional if you’re messing with electrical, and always be 10000% sure that you aren’t cutting live electrical lines even when you think you’re cutting non-electrical wire.

All of these were weekend projects that took very little energy but make the house feel fresh, clean, and like we aren’t weighing her down with outdated nonsense. Yet, there were always a couple of wires that bugged me, but I couldn’t DIY myself.

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Those were the ones overhead. The ones owned by the utility company.

Our power line is in the back of the house and hidden mostly by a big tree (more on that here) so it doesn’t bug me, especially because we need electricity (even though I’d love to cut that cord with solar and battery backups, but let’s save that for another time). Yet in the front of the house are cable and telephone lines. Seen at the top of the photo is the main line that runs service to the houses on my block, and from those lines are cables to our house. On the left is one wire for our cable internet (and 5 more lines that go to our neighbor’s house), and the two on the right are for telephone.

We don’t have a landline phone at our house - not even a jack to plug one in even if we wanted to. Nor do we have a phone number, nor is it included in our cable contract. Thus, we have no need for those two pesky lines running to the house.

Before I get into how we got rid of them, I want to address the concern that Instagram followers voiced when I shared this process a month or so ago. Several people reached out to preach the importance of a landline in the event of emergencies. Hardwired phone lines still work in a power outage, they are tied to your address so dispatch knows where you are (unlike a cell phone), and are an all-around safety net for people. I by no means am advocating for anyone to cut the lines to something that is important for their safety!

However, we have a home security system that provides even more peace of mind than a landline could. It works in a power outage, the service to dispatch can’t be physically cut by a bad guy (unlike a landline), the alarm company knows the address to share with emergency responders, it has a panic button so I don’t even need to dial or talk to someone in order to get help, it has a secret panic code to enter if a bad guy is watching me “disarm” while I secretly call for help, and I have multiple places throughout the house where I can press the panic button. A landline will never give me the safety that the alarm system does. Not to mention, it does a bunch of other things like calling the fire department if the smoke detector goes off - even when I’m not home to smell the smoke. Plus, it’s the same if not cheaper to have security than a phone line! This isn’t an ad for my alarm system (although we love ours) but what I’m getting at is that I feel there are even better ways to protect yourself in an emergency at home than with a landline phone. So, I have no problem removing it.

Another person was concerned that a future resident will want the landlines. But I argue that I’m not leaving for many many years, and by then, the technology will be updated so adding new lines would be beneficial anyway.

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So! Back to cutting the cord. I first identified which wires were which. The one that turned into a coaxial cable is our cable line and shouldn’t dare be snipped, but the two that went into a box that said “telephone” and “bell systems” were the ones we could sever. However, they are owned and managed by the phone company, so you don’t want to mess with them yourself. Plus, even if you disconnect them from the house, you’d need a lift or suuuuuper tall ladder to cut the dangling wires from the main line.

I called up a couple of phone line providers in our phone area until I got ahold of the one that manages ours - AT&T. If you know your provider, you can save yourself time by calling only one, but I wasn’t sure if it was AT&T or Time Warner, so I naturally called the wrong one first.

I spent about an hour on the phone with AT&T getting humans that transfered me to the wrong human in the wrong department over and over. After I talked to the right gal, I asked which department I should ask for, so I could tell all my friends (you people) to do the same. She said to call the main AT&T number, press the option for the Repair Department, listen to all of the options to click more buttons, then just sit quietly without clicking a button. Then you’ll get a human in the repair department and all you have to do is ask them to remove the lines. Bingo Bango.

I talked to the human in the repair department about what I wanted and they said “no problem” then scheduled someone out to cut the lines down the very next day. For free!

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A dude came out the very next day, took a look at the wires, called in for backup to get a truck with a taller lift, snipped the cables, then headed on his merry way. I admired the whole production from inside without having to lift a finger. Although, I did sit on hold for an hour and later patched holes and re-painted where the boxes once were. But other than that, not a single finger lifted!

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Having those boxes removed is already a great before and after view, but shall we admire what she looks like from the street?

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So. Much. Better!