Replacing a Doorbell
Time Required: 2-4 hours
Whether you’re replacing a doorbell component that has broken, or upgrading to a fresh new look and sound, replacing a doorbell is a project you can easily do yourself. Doorbell systems may be wired, which connect the doorbell to the chime using behind-the-wall wiring, or wireless, which transmit a radio signal to the chime.
Doorbell systems consist of a button, a transformer and chimes. These components can be replaced independently of each other, although you may find it most cost effective to replace all the components. Using a doorbell kit, which contains everything you need to upgrade your doorbell system, is a smart way to go.
This project guide will show you the details of replacing a doorbell with a wireless system and how to replace a transmitter/button, chime/buzzer/bell unit and transformer for a wired doorbell. As you work on your project, be sure to follow any manufacturer’s instructions for your doorbell.
Safety: When wiring a doorbell, always turn off the electricity at the circuit breaker before beginning work.
- Use a screwdriver to remove the mounting screws that secure the doorbell cover. If they are not visible, you may have to unsnap the cover to reach them.
- Carefully pull the button housing away from the wall.
- Use a voltage tester to check the wires to ensure the power is off.
- Disconnect the wires from the switch and use masking tape to tape the wires to the wall to keep them from falling into the wall cavity.
- Cover any stripped parts of the wire with electrical tape.
- Tuck the wires into the hole in the wall.
- If the new wireless button cover does not completely cover the area where the old housing was, you’ll need to fill the hole with wood putty, allow it to dry, and then sand and paint.
- If the holes on the new wireless doorbell do not match the old ones, remove the back cover from the new unit and use a pencil to mark where you’ll drill new holes on the side of the house or door frame.
- Drill two small holes at the pencil marks. Use the screws included in the doorbell kit to attach the back of the device to the door frame. Some doorbells come with double-sided tape that can be used to secure the button to the wall or door moulding instead of screws.
- Install the battery in the button unit.
- Place the front part of the button unit over the back part and snap it into place.
- Check your doorbell’s specifications to determine the maximum distance the receiver can be located from the door button.
- Plug the receiver, or sound unit, into a standard electrical outlet. If you have multiple receivers, determine the other locations and plug them in.
- If your receiver operates on batteries, place the batteries in the unit and attach it to a wall or wherever you choose, using screws that come with your installation kit.
- Some wireless doorbells have coded transmitting and receiving units to block interfering frequencies, so check the manufacturer’s instructions to see if you need to set a code on either one, or both units, of your doorbell.
- Use a screwdriver to remove the mounting screws that secure the doorbell switch to the house. If the mounting screws aren’t visible, you may need to remove the cover plate to reach them. This is usually a snap-on piece. Remove the switch away from the wall. Use a voltage tester to check the wires to ensure the power is off. Using a screwdriver, disconnect the wires and ensure the power is off. Using the same screwdriver to disconnect the wires one at a time from the switch. The wires are interchangeable so there’s no need to label them or remember which wire goes with which terminal. If the wires have frayed ends, use the wire stripper to trim the ends and strip ½ inch of insulation from each wire. Tape the wires to the wall with masking tape to keep them from falling into the cavity.
- If a chime unit, use a voltage tester to ensure the power is off. Use masking tape to label the wires according to the screw terminals to which they correspond, i.e. Front, Rear and Trans. There will be two wires attached to the unit if there is a front door button only, and three wires if a doorbell button is at both the front and back doors. Labeling the wires ensures they will be reconnected to the proper terminals on the unit. Then, use a screwdriver to disconnect the wires from the terminals. Lastly, remove the screws holding the chime unit to the wall and pull it from the wall carefully, slipping the wires out of the housing and taping each one to the wall with masking tape to keep them from slipping into the wall cavity.
- If a transformer, open the junction box where the transformer is located. In some instances, the transformer may be attached directly to a beam. Use a voltage tester to be sure the power has been turned off on the correct circuit. Disconnect the AC wires from the transformer. In most cases the wires will be connected with screw terminals or wire connectors, which you will need to keep for the new transformer. Gently pull out the wires and remove the wire connectors or electrician’s tape from the two splices that connect to the transformer. On the other side of the transformer will be two screw terminals. These are the terminals that connect the transformer to the door button and the door chime. Each terminal will have at least one wire. Use masking tape to label each wire so you will know the proper place to reattach them. If there is more than one wire on either terminal, wrap the tape around the wires on each terminal. Use only two labels, one for all wires on each terminal. After labeling the wires, use a screwdriver to disconnect them from the terminals. Use the same screwdriver to remove the transformer from whatever mounting hardware is holding it in place.
- Using needle nose pliers and a screwdriver, connect the wires to the screw terminals on the new switch. Use the screwdriver to mount the switch to the house or door frame, using the screws provided in the doorbell kit.
- If a chime unit, thread the wires through the base of the new chime unit and fasten it to the wall using the mounting screws included in the kit. Connect the wires to the screw terminals on the new chime unit, matching the labeled wires to the corresponding screw terminals. Attach the cover plate and turn on the power at the main circuit breaker panel box.
- If a transformer, thread the doorbell button wire(s), the door chime wire(s) and the new transformer leads into the junction box and use a screwdriver to attach the transformer to the junction box or other mounting hardware. Loosen the two screws on the transformer output and attach the doorbell button and chime wires to the appropriate terminals according to the labels. Using wire connectors, join the permanent leads, or wires, on the transformer to the housing wiring, usually black to black and white to white.