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We've got DSL which is generally pretty solid, but right now we're in the midst of a big kitchen remodel. We've also been recently having some DSL reliability problems; I didn't note exactly when they started, but upon reflection they seem to have coincided at least to a certain degree with our remodeling project.

I had to remove the faceplate of a phone jack to take some bead-board down, and it seems like some of the conductors in the phone line (the same line system that the DSL is using) may have been shorted to each other (or at least intermittently shorted to each other) for some of the time the faceplate's been off.

Could shorting together some of the phone conductors cause the DSL connection to lose train?

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Yes. DSL is very sensitive, the slightest interference can throw it off. You'll want Upload and Download SNR/Noise Margin above 7db, if your Modem gives you access to this information. –  cloneman Dec 5 '12 at 6:08
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If it's the same twisted pair that the DSL uses, then yes. Most notably, I doubt your phones would work either if it's the twisted pair that the phones use (assuming they use different pairs. If same pairs, then both DSL and phones might be nonfunctional.

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well we only have one phone line (the one that's currently disconnected) so that wouldn't help diagnose it, but that's sort of what I figured. Thanks! –  cori Dec 23 '11 at 6:09
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