It's incredibly frustrating to pick up your home phone to make a call only to find that the telephone line is down. And it could be caused by a number of things, such as a bad connection or a broken telephone receiver. Some of these issues can be resolved at home with a bit of guidance from your service provider.

But, there are some issues that should be left to the professionals. For example, if your line has gone down as the result of a wire being detached by bad weather. Or, if you're driving home and spot a damaged telephone pole with loose wires hanging from it. In cases like these, the issue will need to be reported and fixed by a professional engineer due to the risks. However, when it comes to reporting a damaged telephone line, the company you need to contact will depend on where the issue is located and who is responsible for sorting it.

To help you report a broken or faulty phone line, we'll cover all you need to know about reporting a broken or faulty phone line. This will include the steps you need to take, who is responsible for the phone line and how to contact them, how long it takes to fix the issue, and how to contact BT Openreach for fault reporting and other issues. So, let's get started!

You should report damaged phone lines to BT Openreach — if they are located outside the boundaries of your property. You can contact the company via their online virtual assistant or by phone. Where possible, provide the location of the damaged line using What3Words, so it's quicker and easier for Openreach's engineers to find and resolve the issue.

On the other hand, you should contact your service provider directly if the damaged line is on your property. They will then either resolve the issue by sending their own engineer or arrange for one to be sent by Openreach (or the company that owns the network equipment).

If a damaged phone line is outside of your property's boundaries, you need to contact Openreach. However, if the damaged line is on your property, you need to report it to your own network service provider.

Damaged phone line outside your property

If you see a damaged phone line that is outside the boundary of your property, such as by the side of the road, you need to report it to Openreach. The reason is that Openreach (a subsidiary of British Telecommunications) owns and is responsible for maintaining the UK's network. If there is an issue with any equipment, particularly one that could cause personal injury or damage to property, it's crucial that it is reported and dealt with quickly.

So, if you think you've spotted any unsafe, damaged or vandalised equipment that belongs to Openreach, here's what you need to do:

  1. Check the network equipment belongs to Openreach: before you contact Openreach, ensure the equipment you are reporting actually belongs to them — use their equipment guide to do this.
  2. Use the What3Words app to provide the location: to help Openreach's engineers locate the issue, download What3Words onto your mobile phone and use it to provide an exact location when reporting the issue.
  3. Provide any additional information: when reporting an issue to Openreach, try to give as much information as possible. For example, checking if the phone line is active would be helpful.
  4. Contact Openreach: you can do this using Openreach's online virtual assistant or by calling the helpline — we'll explain more about how to do this later in the article.

Damaged phone line on your property

If you have an issue with a damaged phone line or faulty piece of network equipment on your property, you should contact your service provider. Most will offer several ways to do this, usually by phone, through their website, or through a live chat tool. You can check an online telephone directory if you're unsure what contact number to call for your service provider.

If there's a fault with equipment owned by your network provider, they should send an engineer to resolve the issue. If, however, the equipment is owned by Openreach, your service provider will contact them on your behalf and deal with the necessary communications — this includes letting you know what will be done to resolve the issue and how long it will likely take.

The amount of time it takes for a broken phone line to be fixed will usually depend on the severity of the damage and the issue at hand. For example, resolving an issue like a reported tree on a phone line will take longer than a simple faulty connector.

Usually, providers can identify an issue reasonably quickly and send an engineer to resolve it. However, it can take longer to rectify the issue if there is a lot of damage or the issue is unknown.

If your service provider is not the owner of the damaged equipment, they will need to contact the company responsible for it. They will also deal with them on your behalf and keep you updated on the progress.

While some issues take longer than others to resolve, your service provider may offer priority repair services for customers in need of a phone line due to disability or ill health. If you are included in either of those categories, it is worth speaking to your provider to see whether this is something they offer and if you can have it set up. If so, you'll benefit from a shorter waiting time if your phone line does break or is faulty.

The quickest way to report a problem to BT Openreach is to use the online virtual assistant, Eiva. Here, you'll get help to resolve your issue, or you will be put in contact with BT's customer services team if needed.

To use Eiva, all you need to do is head to the Openreach contact page and click the icon in the bottom right-hand corner. This will bring up a messenger tool where you can select an option that you want help with.

Eiva can be used for the following:

  • Reporting damage or health and safety issues that are the responsibility of Openreach, e.g. a BT phone line is damaged
  • Enquiries about fibre
  • Thanking a BT engineer
  • Reporting graffiti on BT's green cabinets
  • Reporting crimes or scams
  • Complaints
  • Broadband speed issues
  • Contacting BT Openreach

How do I contact Openreach by phone?

Alternatively, if you want to use a phone, you can call Openreach customer service using the number, 0800 023 2023 — utility companies should select option 1 + option 1. The cost of calling a service number can differ depending on the company, but calls to Openreach will be charged at your standard phone rate.

This number can be used for general enquiries and reporting damage or health and safety issues that are the responsibility of Openreach to sort. If you're unsure whether to contact BT or your own service provider for an issue, check out our guides below: "When to contact Openreach" and "When to contact your service provider".

Reporting problems with landlines and broadband

If you are experiencing issues with your BT broadband or landline, you will need to contact BT instead of Openreach. You can do this by using the BT online troubleshooter. This can help when dealing with issues such as:

  • No landline dial tone
  • Poor line quality
  • Not being able to make or receive calls
  • Slow internet connection
  • Internet not connecting
  • Internet connection dropping

To use this service, you'll need to sign into your BT account (or create one) and click through the appropriate options. The troubleshooter will then run tests to try to find and resolve the problem — this should take 10-30 minutes. If it can't be resolved online, you'll then be able to arrange for an engineer to visit.

Alternatively, you can use BT's text service to resolve issues related to landlines and broadband. Simply use your mobile phone to send one of the following text messages to the numbers provided:

  • Landline issues: text PHONE to 61998
  • Broadband issues: text HELP to 61998

The services run 8am to 9pm from Monday to Friday and 8am to 8pm on weekends and bank holidays. BT will run tests to try and identify the issue. If you need an engineer to resolve the problem, you'll be sent a text to book a slot for them to visit. Or, if you don't need an engineer, you'll receive a call back from one of BT's team members to help you resolve the problem.

When to contact Openreach

Openreach owns and is responsible for the UK's phone and broadband line network. For this reason, you should contact them to report damage or health and safety issues related to network equipment that is located outside the boundaries of your property. Examples of safety issues that you should report to Openreach include:

  • Loose cables
  • Cables dangling from telephone poles
  • Damaged underground cables (these are often caused by mechanical diggers on construction sites)
  • Damaged, leaning, or fallen down telephone poles
  • Damaged, open and unattended, or graffitied green cabinets
  • Loose, damaged, or missing manhole covers

You should also contact BT Openreach for the following:

  • Damage to your property or personal injury caused by BT equipment
  • General enquiries about BT's products and services
  • Complaints about BT's service

When to contact your service provider

You should contact your own network service adviser (e.g. Sky or TalkTalk) for the following:

  • Questions about your phone bill
  • Issues with your service
  • Faults with equipment in your home and on your property
  • General enquiries about their products and services
  • Engineer visits
  • Upgrading to fibre
  • Ordering landline or broadband services

Broken phone lines and other damaged or faulty network equipment can be incredibly dangerous to yourself and others. For this reason, they need to be dealt with by a professional as soon as possible.

So, contact Openreach if you see a damaged phone line or other similar health and safety issue that is not on your property. When reporting the issue, provide the What3Words location, so it's easier for an engineer to locate the problem. Alternatively, you can contact your own service provider if the faulty line is on your property. They will then be responsible for organising the necessary arrangements to get the issue resolved.

As is the case with most companies, you can report an issue in more than one way — usually, that includes by phone, text, website form, or using an online chat tool. When it comes to contacting Openreach, the quickest and easiest way is using the virtual assistant, Eiva, which you can find on the website's contact page in the bottom right-hand corner.