Doorbell Hell

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  #1  
Old 10-21-13, 08:08 AM
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Doorbell Hell

My intermittent (electro-magnetic solenoid-type) doorbell is driving me absolutely insane. Long story 'short': I relocated the transformer after a remodel to a location in the garage, about 30ft away from the chime (which was near its previous front hall location.) Also installed a rear door pushbutton outside the garage man door (abt. 20 ft. from trans.) The (original) chime worked fine for a while, before failing intermittently.

I have replaced everything at least twice. I pulled new 18-5 solid copper from trans. to the chime, and new 18-2 from front pushbutton to chime (abt. 25' from chime). New pushbutton, new transformer, new chime, new wire. Upon initial hookup, everything works fine. After 1 hr., 2 hrs., 6 hrs., the front stops working.. no lit button, no voltage to the chime. The rear button sounds the chime every time. (I pulled 5-conductor cable after my new 18-3 failed to remedy the intermittency problem, thinking I'd have 2 alternate feeds to the front, in case the one had a break due to an unlikely manufacturing defect.) I tested continuity to all conductors before (and after) I installed the cable with initial positive results, and have alternated the conductors with the original, with equally failing eventual results. Ocasionally, the front chime will work again, with my having done nothing.

Original transformer was a 10v. I replaced it with a 16v., and again with a multi-voltage (8, 16, 24v.) I prefer the 16v. for the louder chime, but connected to 8v. after the 16v stopped working. (Each time I test the transformer with a multimeter, I get 9.8, 17.3, 26.2 v. consistently.) After a few hours, the 8v. connection produced intermittent results. I lost the front chime (only) again. Am I losing so much voltage over the 30 feet, that the front chime fails? This seems unlikely, as the rear circuit has to travel as far to reach the chime. The new chime is presumably rated 16v., but isn't even marked. I hesitate to try the 24v. terminals lest I burn out the button light. I've also invested so much time and energy into this, I'm reluctant to get a wireless chime (so far!) Any suggestions?
 
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Old 10-21-13, 08:20 AM
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It sounds like you did everything you could. May be time for the unlikely. Replace the button with a non lighted button. Try a transformer with a higher VA rating.
 
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Old 10-21-13, 08:21 AM
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P.S.

I should mention that I also tried an electronic chime kit (the 16v. transformer,) with diode in the front button. It sworked fine initially, but again, the front failed to sound after a few hours, sometimes returning with my having done nothing.
 
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Old 10-21-13, 08:22 AM
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Our posts crossed. See mine above yours.
 
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Old 10-21-13, 08:24 AM
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Thanks, Ray. I suppose it can't hurt, at this point. I'll try the 24v. terminals.
 
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Old 10-21-13, 08:34 AM
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No I'd stay with ~17 volts but use a higher volt-amp transformer.
 
  #7  
Old 10-21-13, 06:18 PM
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Yeah, but in the meantime, the 24v. terminals put out 20 va, the others only 10. Update: The front chime sounded at 24v, 20 va. Once. Light was fine. The rear still sounds consistently. I reinstalled the original chime, since the sound is better. Front sounded 3-4 times over 1/2 hour, then quit. Rear still works consistently. Switched out button to an unlighted model. Nothing. I'll look for a higher va 16v. trans. (30) Thanks.
 
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Old 10-21-13, 07:17 PM
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Wondering how you wired it. This is the "normal" front and rear connections for mechanical chime. Did you do something different?
[ATTACH=CONFIG]19692[/ATTACH]
 
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Old 10-21-13, 09:31 PM
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No, this is it, but for multi-conductor bell wire, instead of individual strand.
 
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Old 10-21-13, 09:46 PM
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Next - What voltage is the chime seeing when it is working? And what voltage is the chime seeing when it is not? Put the leads of the multimeter on the chime's terminals when you have someone push the button.

And if you swap the connection of the front door button with the rear - does that make a difference?
 
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Old 10-22-13, 01:54 PM
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I'm not sure of the voltage when it's working, as I haven't had an extra set of hands around when it is. I'll try to get it active again to test that. Sometimes, disconnecting or fiddling with the secondary conductors from the tranny, then sounding the rear chime will activate it again. Sometimes not. Voltage is zero when it doesn't work. This has lead me to suspect the wire, but then everything will work fine-- for a few minutes. I think Ray is onto something with the higher va transformer. I'm waiting for a new one to arrive.
 
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Old 10-22-13, 01:58 PM
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Oh, and swapping conductors doesn't change anything. I've even doubled up conductors to the front with negative results.
 
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Old 10-22-13, 02:24 PM
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I think Ray is onto something with the higher va transformer.
I also think ray is right. Most chime transformers with modern chimes are 16 volt and no less than 15 va rated, some are 20 va rated, and yours was just rated 10va.
 
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Old 10-22-13, 02:54 PM
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Yeah, I just don't understand why the rear should work consistently, when its circuit loop is almost identical in length with that of the front chime. The only difference is, the rear button loop is closer to the transformer. The front button loop is closer to the chime. Whatever that does. They are both about 30 ft. in length (x2).
 
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Old 10-22-13, 03:05 PM
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Also, the original house chime (I'm still using) was working fine on 10 va before relocating. Could adding 30 ft of wire (okay, x2) to the circuit require that much more wattage? Maybe. We'll see.
 
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Old 10-22-13, 06:41 PM
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By the way, if the lighted button does not light up then you have a break somewhere in the circuit (or incorrect wiring) and no amount of raising the voltage will help.

The button light draws a small enough amount of current that extending the circuit as much as another 30 feet will not result in the light not working.

Did you say you used two different chime units and both exhibited the problem?

This does not always happen but if the button is held down too long or there is a wiring mistake then the chime can overheat from being energized for a long time.
 
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Old 10-25-13, 06:13 PM
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Friday update:
New 16v. 30 va transformer arrived today. The FedEx driver pushed the front button, and the chime sounded. It had been inoperable for days. The button was lit, so I tried it a few more times for kicks, before it quit. I installed the new 30va unit, and the button was lit. It sounded. After a few more successful tries, I left it alone. About a half hour later, nothing. No lit button, no chime, no voltage to the front leads. I swapped out the 2 other unused conductors in the line with the wire to the front button loop. Nothing. The rear chime continues to sound every time. I'm ready to admit a poltergeist is interfering with the front circuit, and leave it at that.. (but of course I won't.) The really disturbing thing (as AllanJ alluded to) is the complete lack of voltage to the chime through a pristine 5-conductor cable lying on a bed of soft blanket insulation above my vaulted ceiling-- and then it works. I could go to the trouble of describing my wiring, but I'm just too weary. Let's just say it should work, but it doesn't. Except when it does.
 
  #18  
Old 10-25-13, 07:15 PM
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It sounds like something in the circuit is opening due to heat but darned if I can tell you what. You've done everything I can think of.
 
  #19  
Old 10-27-13, 09:55 AM
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Did you try a new front switch?
 
  #20  
Old 10-29-13, 09:26 AM
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Is the bell wire run right next to conductors carrying line voltage? It could be trying to ground through the transformer or wire.

Maybe the button is grounding out against metal lath or framing nails.

If you connect the front bell wires in parallel at the transformer with the rear wires and the problem repeats you know it is in the wire/pushbutton portion.

At this point you have eliminated all the easy stuff.
 
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