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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    3

    Default How to find door chime transformer

    Need to replace current door chime ... current one (it's at least 30 years old) only works sporadically. Suspect a new 'bell' will require a new transformer but I don't know where the current one is (or maybe a new transformer will 'fix' the current chime).

    I'm disabled so can't 'crawl all over' (or under) and wondered if there's a stationary way to check it out.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Columbiana, Alabama
    Posts
    726

    Default Re: How to find door chime transformer

    Quote Originally Posted by RAPdiy911 View Post
    Need to replace current door chime ... current one (it's at least 30 years old) only works sporadically. Suspect a new 'bell' will require a new transformer but I don't know where the current one is (or maybe a new transformer will 'fix' the current chime).

    I'm disabled so can't 'crawl all over' (or under) and wondered if there's a stationary way to check it out.
    Usual locations are: near the power panels, near the dorbell locations, inside a power panel

    They can be found under insulation or wall using a toner but they can be very pricey. Most electricians have them. Some can trace wiring 4 feet in the ground (or walls/ceilings) for 1000 ft.

    If you can't get around too well it may be cheaper to abandon what you have and just buy a wireless one. The push buttons are battery powered and just stick on the door facings. The bells just plug into an outlet and don't even need to be nailed to the wall. Most cost less than $50, much less than calling an electrician.
    Good Luck from Columbiana, Alabama
    Maurice Turgeon, Hidden Content

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    6,690

    Default Re: How to find door chime transformer

    I support Semi's last suggestion: If you are disabled, you don't need to mess with wired bells. Install a wireless unit. I get them at walmart, they carry GE brand bells for $10-$15.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    2,169

    Default Re: How to find door chime transformer

    You can check for 24 VAC at the button terminals. If you've got that, the transformer and wiring is probably ck. Check for same voltage at the chime terminals. You get voltage there but not at the button, the wirings bad. No voltage there either the transformer is bad. Unless the button or chime is bad, go wireless.

    Phil

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    7,146

    Default Re: How to find door chime transformer

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastercarpentry View Post
    You can check for 24 VAC at the button terminals. If you've got that, the transformer and wiring is probably ck. Check for same voltage at the chime terminals. You get voltage there but not at the button, the wirings bad. No voltage there either the transformer is bad. Unless the button or chime is bad, go wireless.

    Phil
    I agree, though you don't even need a tester to test the button location, just disconnect the button and tap the wires together, if the bell rings every time you tap the wire, the problem is likely a faulty button which is about $5 to replace yourself. No crawling necessary, no electrician necessary. I've come across many instances where it was the button that was at fault, not the rest of the system.

    If when you tap the wires together you still have a weak or intermittent chime, then there are other issues at play and repair or replacement of the system will be necessary. I'm not a fan of wireless chimes, as they don't seem to last very long, but they are an inexpensive alternative to hiring someone to run a new hard wired chime for you.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    2,169

    Default Re: How to find door chime transformer

    I generally try to trace and fix problems with these, but the OP mentioned some inability to crawl around and do that so I based my answer accordingly. Wireless chimes generally do OK with good batteries but I've used a few where the transmitter/receiver wasn't strong enough to get the signal though and working. Use quality name-brand batteries; some of the cheap ones just don't last. If it has a "Best used by" date, it's probably a good one- the worst ones don't have this and can be old stock that's going or gone bad by the time you purchase them!

    A problem I've occasionally encountered with these is when instead of "Bell wire", another type was run which had an enamel coating on the wire. This is how the old 4-wire phone cable was made and it was sometimes used as a substitute since the gauge size etc. is OK. You have to sand or scr@pe that coating off the get an electrical connection and 'touching the wires together' can show a weak or intermittent chime even when nothing is actually wrong! The usual complaint from the customer in these cases is their wanting a "better button" after a few replacements failed rapidly, with their not realizing that it was a bad connection all along. I pull the button and find the loops on the screws made from fresh wire where the original had broken off; the tightening of the screw scr@ped off just enough enamel to make contact till the least corrosion set in and it became intermittent again. I've found some licensed electricians who never knew such a problem exists because none of the wire they've used has such a coating, but it's common in radio work which is where I learned the trick of sanding it off. Not a common thing but just something to be aware of that you may run across.

    Phil

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    7,146

    Default Re: How to find door chime transformer

    You've always gotta be difficult, don't ya Phil . . . <wink> LOL

    Good info as always, thanks for sharing.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    El Paso, TX
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: How to find door chime transformer

    Chances are the problem is the chime or door switch rather than the transformer. Transformers are more robust than the other components. Most doorbells operate on 16 volts. You can pick a chime up cheap at Home Depot and wire it in. You can check the switch by shorting it out with a screwdriver or knife (safe to do) or take one wire off and touch it to the other. Switches do go bad but the chime is the most likely culprit.

    I have found transformers most often in the same closet as the furnace or air conditioner. They are made to be mounted outside a junction box so are easy to spot.

    There was a time when they were mounted in or on panels but not when your house was built.

    The wireless doorbells do work but are less reliable. You'll want to place the chime as near the switch a possible.

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