Poor Line Condition error on fax machine

Q: We keep getting a notation on our fax transmission reports that we have “poor line condition” on our fax. What is “poor line condition”? If this is causing transmission problems (as I suspect) how do we fix our “line condition”?

Your fax machine is trying to tell you that there’s noise on the line — noise that can slow down the speed that your faxes are transmitted, and if it’s really bad, keep your faxes from being transmitted at all.

If this happens only occasionally, I wouldn’t worry about it. If it happens only when you’re sending faxes to a particular business, then it’s likely “their” problem: their fax line might be the noisy one, and there’s nothing you can do about that (except perhaps notify them about the issue.)

But if it happens frequently, to a variety of fax numbers, the problem is on your end. Try making a call using a regular phone on the fax line. Do you hear static or buzzing? If so, you can try a different telephone cord to the wall jack.

If the fax machine is not plugged directly into the wall jack — for instance, if there’s a surge protector or switching device connected between the fax machine and the jack — try connecting the machine directly to the wall without the device in the middle, then send another fax to test. Failing all that, call the phone company for help. They should be able to test the line (without even coming out to visit you.)

If you are using a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) line as your fax line, that may be your problem: it may not have enough bandwidth to properly transmit your faxed. Try setting your fax machine to transmit a bit slower: try 9600 BPS instead of the typical 14.4KBPS. That will use less bandwidth and may solve the problem.

Do you have a question about faxing? Send me your fax question.