Fixing an Older Doorbell

Fixing a Doorbell

Does your home have a door bell or chime unit that only rings on Halloween? In most cases, this is pretty easy to repair.

The most common culprit in the failure of this system is the easiest to get to. It’s the push button. Remove the button faceplate, which is usually held in place by a couple of tiny screws. There should be two wires attached to the back of the button unit.

I know what you’re thinking . . .electrical shock! You’ll be happy to know that bell and chime systems are operated on very low voltage, 12 to 24 volts. At most, you’d only get a tingle. However, having said that, if you wish to err on the side of caution, avoid touching the wires or go to the entry box and trip the switch to that controls that circuit.
But back to the button, remove the wires and touch them together, (assuming you didn’t shut off the current) and if the chimes or bell ring, you know the button is not doing its job. Check the contact points and clean the ends of the wires. If the button still doesn’t ring your chimes, buy a new button.

If the touching of the wires failed to ring the unit, your next step is to check the buzzer or chime itself. You’re still dealing with low voltage at this point. Check all the connections to be sure they are tight and not bothered by corrosion. Look to see if the clapper on the bell is close enough to hit the bell. With a chime unit, clean the striker bar using rubbing alcohol.

Using an inexpensive test light make sure there is power to the unit. Have some one push the button and if the tester lights up, you have current. If not, the next step is to check the transformer, usually in the attic or as part of the chime unit.

While the wires coming out of the transformer carry the low voltage, the wires coming in are carrying full house current, so be very cautious in dealing with the transformer. Shut off the power and hook the test light to the low voltage side. Restore the power and if the light comes on, the transformer is OK. If not, using the proper caution, test the other side to be sure current is getting to the transformer.

If all this checks out and there’s still no “ding dong”, it’s a wiring problem. When replacing wiring in the walls, attach the new wires to the old and use the old wires to pull the new through the wall. It sure beats fishing the wires!

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