I sold cordless phones at retail for ten years or so, and I've been
throught the drill on this one more times than I care to think. I'm
assuming from the wording of your question that you've got the
maddening "my phone just beeps at me" problem.
Netcrazy had the basics right.
When your base and handset stop talking to each other, it's generally
because of a power interruption. Modern cordless phones transmit a
security code from handset to base, when you start a call. This helps
reduce the likelihood that you and your neighbor will be talking over
each other, if your phones are on the same channel. Unfortunately,
when they get out of synch, you won't be talking to anybody! Usually
the phone will just beep "out of range."
The handset, you see, has continuous power because of its battery.
The base unit doesn't (usually) because it's plugged into the wall.
Anything that messes with the power supply can get put your phone out
of commission. Even relatively slight flickers in your power (not
enough to reset your VCR clock) can do it to your phone. So, you need
to reset the chip which holds the security code.
So here's the drill:
1) As netcrazy said, step one is to simply place the phone back in the
cradle for a slow five count. Then, pick it up and try it. If it
works, you're done. If not, let's try step 2.
2) Unplug the telephone's base unit. Slide the battery cover off the
handset, and remove the battery. Wait 30 seconds or so. Plug the
base unit back in. Wait five seconds or so. Replace the battery in
the handset. Place the handset in the base unit for a slow five count
(as above). Now try it. This will almost always solve the problem.
If this doesn't work, then the chances are you've got something more
seriously wrong with your phone. That may mean that the chip which
holds your security code is now defunct. That's a bad thing, but
should be covered under warranty if your phone is new enough.
There are a couple of other things to try, though. It may be that your
battery is simply not getting charged!
There are a few relatively easy ways to troubleshoot this yourself.
You'll need an inexpensive multimeter, a very basic piece of test
equipment. If you don't have one, chances are you have a handyperson
within your circle of acquaintance who will.
First, clean the charging contacts on your base unit with a pencil
eraser. This gives just enough abrasion to rub off any oxidation,
without impairing the chromed surface of the contacts.
Now, press the leads of the multimeter to the contacts. You will
usually get a reading of 9-15 volts dc, depending on the phone.
Generally they use a 12v supply. Now, take the back off your phone
and lift out the battery. Inside, look at where the battery attached
to the handset. You will find either 2-4 pins (if your battery has
wires and a connector) or a couple of flat contacts (if your battery
is the kind without wires). Put the leads of the tester onto these
contacts. You will normally see voltage in the 3-6V dc range.
If you don't see the expected voltage on one of these tests, your
charging circuit is kaput and your handset doesn't have enough juice
If the battery is new (and changing batteries will sometimes trigger
this), the phone wouldn't reset, and the circuit gives you the correct
voltages, then your phone unfortunately requires service. If it is in
warranty, your dealer should be able to help you. If it is out of
warranty, you may wish to balance the cost of a repair against the
cost of a new (in-warranty) phone.
I hope this is helpful, and not too intimidating. None of it is as
complicated as it sounds at first blush.