Dumb as a doorbell

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  #1  
Old 04-20-12, 03:25 PM
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Dumb as a doorbell

Not really. I have a doorbell, that has two different chimes to it. It does have a transformer. The doorbells worked, and I had to replace the button for the side door. That was replaced and I thought everything was good. Suddenly, the front door bell stopped working. I replaced the button for that...and nothing. Suddenly, the side door bell was acting up, and when pressed, would only chime a note and the doorchime would make a crackling sound. Then neither doorbell would work. So, when I was checking the chimes, and touching the terminal screws with the wires, I could get the chimes to ring. Now today, the chimes won't even ring. I reset the circuit breaker, and still no power at the door chime. So, my question is, could these all be symtoms of a failing transformer? It doesn't make sense. Also...in the doorchime itself, I have four wires. One wire was wired to the front bell, another wire was attached to the transformer, but two wires were not attached to anything. Is it possible they could have worked themselves loose? Thanks for your help.
 
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  #2  
Old 04-20-12, 04:03 PM
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Also...in the doorchime itself, I have four wires. One wire was wired to the front bell, another wire was attached to the transformer, but two wires were not attached to anything. Is it possible they could have worked themselves loose?
That sounds like the problem. Particularly with the crackling sound you noticed.

What make and model is your doorbell? Also, if you could post a picture of the chime with the cover off, that might help.
 
  #3  
Old 04-20-12, 06:06 PM
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... I had to replace the button for the side door.
...Suddenly, the front door bell stopped working.
... Suddenly, the side door bell was acting up, and when pressed, would only chime a note and the doorchime would make a crackling sound.
Then neither doorbell would work. So, when I was checking the chimes, and touching the terminal screws with the wires, I could get the chimes to ring.
... Now today, the chimes won't even ring. I reset the circuit breaker, and still no power at the door chime.
... could these all be symtoms of a failing transformer?
...in the doorchime itself, I have four wires. One wire was wired to the front bell, another wire was attached to the transformer, but two wires were not attached to anything. Is it possible they could have worked themselves loose?
Off-the-cuff I'd say there is, or was, a short somewhere causing either or both:
1. The chime to be energized continuously
2. The transformer output to be shorted

If #1, the chime winding insulation would probably eventually overheat and at that point the transformer winding would in turn overheat, breaking down its insulation causing the winding or a protective fusible link to go open.

It's possible that the chime is OK if the short was on the wiring between the transformer and the chime.

It's possible that the transformer is OK if the short was on the wiring between the button and the chime, and then went OPEN for whatever reason.

When you say "four wires" do you mean "four cables", as in outer jackets with multiple conductors inside each jacket, or "four conductors" as in four copper wires?

What is the condition and age of your doorbell wiring? Is the insulation plastic, or does it look like paper or canvas?

It's likely the short or open occurred near the transformer or the chime, rather than deep inside the wall somewhere. You should remove the chime from the wall and carefully check the cables under bright light. Look for arc marks, scraped insulation, or puncture marks. Do the same at the transformer and each button.

The problems I have seen are with old paper or canvas insulated cables getting disturbed and shorting. I have seen melted chime windings and transformers with open load-side windings.

Isolating the problem may be easier using a volt-ohm meter, which you can get for $10 or so from a place like Harbor Freight.

And yes, photos are always helpful. We would like to see the chime, the transformer and some sample of the cables to start.
 
  #4  
Old 04-20-12, 07:45 PM
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There may be a short in the side door button. Have you re-checked that?
 
  #5  
Old 04-29-12, 09:52 AM
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Pictures of Doorbell etc...

Thank you for your responses.
Here are links to photos of my doorchime, and the transformer, and the wiring on the side of the doorchime.

http://i1067.photobucket.com/albums/...lie/Chimes.jpg
http://i1067.photobucket.com/albums/...ransformer.jpg
http://i1067.photobucket.com/albums/...lie/wiring.jpg
http://i1067.photobucket.com/albums/...ingtochime.jpg
http://i1067.photobucket.com/albums/...ginbetween.jpg

The doorchimes did work, when i woulod touch the blue wire to the front door, and the blue and white wire to the transformer. Same with the orange to the rear door and the orange white to the transformer.

That does not work anymore, so I am now confused as to how the wiring should be wired at the chime itself. So, in advance, thank you for your help...as I hope to figure this out myself.
 
  #6  
Old 04-29-12, 10:55 AM
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This is not a mechanical door chime based on the two speaker terminals on the chime. There may be batteries inside. Have you checked? Electronic chimes often use a 12VDC transformer rather then a 17VAC transformer if no batteries.

Sometimes it is easier to go from scratch then try to find the problem. If it was me I would identify the purpose, if any, of each wire. I would disconnect all the wires after recording the connections. One at a time at each door bell I would twist the two wires together and Identify with a continuity checker. Which pair at the chime was for each button. I would disconnect the two wires at the transformer and by continuity the path. Next step would be to connect the identified wires in the normal way. One wire from each doorbell to connected together and to one lead from the transformer. Other lead from each doorbell to the chime. Other lead of transformer to "trans" screw on the chime. I'd leave all other wires disconnected.

So, my question is, could these all be symtoms of a failing transformer?
Or just a failing electronic circuit since it seems to be electronic.
 
  #7  
Old 04-29-12, 01:53 PM
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I looked at your photos and here's my guess as to how things should be wired. Despite the nice clear photos there was still a spot or two where identical wires ran close to each other and I had to guess which was on the wire nut.

I don't know whether "Door 1" or "Door 2" on my diagram is Front or Back.

I also don't know why there is a hot feed straight to the chime, but maybe a past chime required it or it was wired differently in the past.

At the chime, if I am right, wiring is intact, and transformer and chime are working:
BRN is Door 1 signal
BRN/W is Door 2 signal
BLU/W is TRANS

The chime should sound if you connect:
BLU/W to TRANS
BLU to FRONT
or
BLU/W to TRANS
BLU to REAR


Like Ray said, sometimes it's easier to start over. Certainly a small wire in a wire nut can break off or oxidize to the point it's no longer making a good connection.

In the upper right corner of your photo below, the blue-jacketed cable bends around a black cable, which hopefully is not knob & tube wiring. Anyway, there is a black mark on the blue cable. You should carefully check this to see if it is just a smudge or if it is scorched from arcing or overheating.
 
  #8  
Old 04-30-12, 05:15 PM
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Updated information

The doorbell definitely does not have batteries. And, ArgMeMatey...you are absolutely correct about which wires rang the chimes...back when there was power at the chimes (which no longer seems to be the case.).

I examined the wiring to see if I could find any broken or oxidized wiring...it looked good, and coppery. I also checked the blue cable and the black mark is just a black mark (yay!) Fortunately, the house does not have knob and tube or aluminum.

So, while I am investigating I am at the transformer. it is in an ackward tight spot...so I was able to get my camera up there to take a photo of the side of the transformer. No way my head could ever fit. LOL! Anyway, is this the actual transformer, or is this just part of the transformer?

http://i1067.photobucket.com/albums/...Tranformer.jpg

ArgMeMatey...really great diagram. I have a feeling you're right on the money. I'll let you know.
 
  #9  
Old 04-30-12, 06:10 PM
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is this the actual transformer, or is this just part of the transformer?
That is the actual transformer, yes. There is a separate transformer mounted on the "floorward" side of the box as well.

Is there any chance the switch near the transformer controls power to the transformer?

At this point I would check the voltage on the secondary side (16VAC visible terminals) of the transformer. If there is voltage, determine how close it is to the 16 VAC nominal label.

You should also be able to disconnect the transformer from the wiring and check the voltage on the transformer.

While that wiring is disconnected, you could put an ohmmeter in place of the transformer, i.e. connected to the doorbell wires, and see what you get at "normal" as well as when somebody pushes each button. Without the wiring connected to the transformer or chime, this will at least give you an indication of whether there are any shorts in the system that might have caused the transformer to fail.

Also since you have an electronic chime, I doubt it would have overheated and failed.

To do more exhaustive testing, you will have to connect the meter to various points and jumper the "other" ends of two wires together. This is more of a logic game than anything else, so if you can translate the diagram back to what you see in your basement joists and at your doorbell buttons, you can do it in connect-the-dots fashion.

Enjoy and post back with questions or results.
 
  #10  
Old 12-11-12, 01:24 AM
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My doorbell finally works!

Argmematey definitely wins for his diagram, and suggestions! It took me this long to schedule enough time to completely troubleshoot this darn issue. Fortunately, I had a weekend scheduled to pull everything out so I would have easy access to all of the wiring. Now I have to schedule another weekend to put all the crap back in place. LOL!

Thank you to everyone that provided me great input. I like being a do-it-yourself kind of gal...and couldn't have done it without your help.

Oh..and now I have no excuse not to answer my door.
 
  #11  
Old 12-11-12, 05:25 AM
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Glad you got it. Thanks for letting us know.
 
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