On Doorbell Systems – On the House

On Doorbell Systems

By on February 5, 2016

A  friend  promised to pay you back the $50 that you had  loaned  him  over three weeks ago. You were supposed to be paid yesterday. Instead, you found a message on your answering machine that went something like this. “I  rang your door bell for almost 15 minutes. There was no answer, so I figured you weren’t  home. I will be out of town for a while. I’ll will bring  you  the money I owe you when I return”. That was the last time you heard from  that friend.  And all that was between you and payment was a broken  door  bell. Life does go on!

You  guessed  it. This weeks offering is about doorbell systems.  How  they work and how to repair them. Four  components  make up a doorbell system – 1) the push  button,  2)  the bell, buzzer or chime unit, 3) the transformer, and 4) the wiring.

Even  though your doorbell may be working, there is a very  common  problem associated  with doorbell buttons. Because most push button units are  normally  mounted  with such small fasteners, the whole assembly  often  comes loose from the wall. Don’t be afraid to use larger fasteners (screws or lag screws) to reaffix it. This fix is easier than hanging a picture.

Because  it  is exposed to weather, the push button unit is a part  of  the system  that  fails most frequently. Exposure to weather can  corrode  wire connections  in the push button unit causing a system failure. The  fix  is super easy – and the only cost – a little bit of your time.

There  are two types of push button units and therefore two ways to  access the wiring. Some push button units have pop-off covers that can be  removed with  the  flick  of a screwdriver. The pop-off cover  type  is  recognized because  of the absence of screw or nail head in the cover. The other  type is  screw-mounted. The screws are removed so that the push button unit  can be detached from the wall exposing the wire connections in back.


Once you access the connections simply unscrew the terminals and remove the wires from them. Use a knife, a piece of emery cloth or sandpaper to scrape or  sand  the wire until it shines. Touch the cleaned wires  together.  The chime  should sound. If the chime doesn’t sound then the problem is one  of the other components: the chime unit, the transformer or the wire.  Replace the wires onto the push button terminals and remount the unit.

The problem of corrosion can also exist at the chime unit. Remove the wires at  the chime unit terminals and clean them in the same fashion as you  did at the push button unit.

If you have a voltage tester it can be placed on the chime terminals  while the  push button in pressed. If no voltage is read it probably  means  that the transformer unit needs to be replaced.

Voltage testers can be expensive. However you can make one from $2 worth of parts  that can be purchased from your local junk yard. All you need  is  a tail  light bulb, its socket and the two wires (about 10 inches in  length) that protrude from the socket.

Since a door bell system is low voltage (usually about 10 to 18 volts), the 12  volt auto bulb unit can be used as a current tester. Each of the  wires is  connected  to the chime terminals. When the door bell  is  pressed  the light  will  shine brightly if the transformer is sending  current  to  the chime unit.

Anyway, if the light lights it means that there is power in the system  and that  the wiring is OK. Since you have already cleaned the button this  all means that you need a new set of chimes – that is if cleaning the terminals didn’t work.

Door bell systems are low voltage and therefore are not terribly dangerous. However,  the transformer unit does have a high voltage (110v – 120v)  side and can be very dangerous. Power should be turned off at the subpanel  when modifications  are being made to the system. Persons who do not understand electricity  should  not work on low voltage electrical systems  while  the power is on.

If it is discovered that a wire is broken in the wall, look into the  price of  a wireless door bell system. It could be less expensive to get  one  of these than to make a wire repair.

For more home improvement tips and information search our website or call our listener line any time at 1-800-737-2474! All you need to do is leave your name, telephone number and your question.


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