Proven methods to fix a broken doorbell

When you're busy in the kitchen or entertaining friends and family, you need a working doorbell to know when guests arrive. This expert advice will get your doorbell ringing again in no time.

Proven methods to fix a broken doorbell

Get your bell ringing

Follow these steps to troubleshoot a dead doorbell. Always be sure to use safety gear when handling wires, and contact an electrician if you're unsure of how to proceed.

  • If a doorbell or chime stops sounding, begin by checking the service panel to see if the circuit breaker has tripped or the fuse has blown. If this is the case, other lights and receptacles on the same circuit will also be dead.
  • Next, inspect and test the button. Remove the screws holding the button to the wall, then pull the button out carefully and inspect the connections in the back. The connections should be tight and the two wires should be secured to the terminal screws with no exposed wires touching each other.
  • If the connections are loose, tighten them. If bare wires are in contact, fix them by clipping off excess wire.
  • If the bell still won't ring, remove the wires from the screws. Hold one wire in each hand by the insulation and touch the bare ends of the wires together. If the bell rings, buy and install a replacement button.
  • If the problem persists, clean the chime or bell unit by gently brushing away dust or cobwebs with a soft, clean paint brush. Clean parts with a cotton swab dampened with contact cleaner.

If the bell still won't function, the transformer may be the culprit. Follow the wires from the bell or chime to locate the transformer; it will be attached to a junction box and may be located in the basement, attic or a closet. Follow these steps to troubleshoot transformer issues:

  • Turn the power off at the service panel and check the transformer for loose wires. Turn the power back on, and —  holding the insulated handle of a screwdriver —  touch both terminals briefly with the point and shaft. If you get a weak spark, the transformer is functioning. You can also turn off the power again, unmount the transformer from the junction box and take it to an electrical supply store to have it checked.
  • To replace the transformer, first shut off all power to the transformer. Remove the cover from the box and unscrew the wire connectors. Loosen the locknut holding the transformer, then pull it from the box. Mount the new transformer — an exact duplicate — and attach the wires with wire connectors, making sure to match the wire colours.
  • If the transformer is not the problem, your wiring is the most likely culprit, but it's impractical to try and rewire the doorbell yourself unless you are an experienced do-it-yourselfer.
  • Consider replacing the old doorbell with a wireless doorbell, as wireless systems are inexpensive and easy to install.

Follow this advice and your doorbell should be working like new. Celebrate by inviting company over to test it out!

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