Repair a Broken Doorbell

What You'll Need
Sandpaper (fine grit)
Emery boards
Electrical tape
Wire connectors
Cotton swabs
Lighter fluid
Rubbing alcohol
Old toothbrush

When that doorbell suddenly stops working or starts making odd sounds it can be quite frustrating. Fortunately, repairing or replacing a broken doorbell is well within the skills of most homeowners. All it takes is some knowledge, and of course the right tools.

No Ring at All

If the doorbell does not ring at all, use these steps to diagnose and repair the problem:

Step 1 - Check the Button

The problem may lie with the button and not the doorbell itself. Doorbell buttons can easily be damaged by weather conditions and a buildup of dirt. Remove the cover and clean the contacts using either fine grit sandpaper or an emery board. Then, use a screwdriver to pry up the contacts to make the doorbell ring. If the doorbell still does not ring, remove the button, disconnect the wires and touch the ends together. If the doorbell chimes, the problem lies with the button. If the bell does not sound, or sounds very faintly, the bell unit is the problem.

Step 2 - Check the Wires

If the doorbell will not sound, the wires may be loose at either the sound unit or at the transformer. The next step is to check the wires at both ends by wrapping the wires in electrical tape if they are frayed, and tightening them if they have become loose. Also make sure that none of the exposed wires are damaged, and that all wires are connected to the bell terminal.

doorbell exposed wiring and contacts

Step 3 - Check the Transformer

The transformer should also be carefully checked by restoring power to the circuit to which the transformer is connected. The transformer is generally on the junction box located either in the basement or near the circuit box. Set a multi-tester for an ACV scale with a 50-volt range, then touch the transformer's low voltage terminals with the probes of the multi-tester. If there is no voltage signal, the transformer needs to be replaced.

Quiet or Strange Ring

If the problem is a doorbell that makes an abnormal sound, the following steps will be needed to resolve it:

Step 1 - Check the Clappers or Plungers

doorbell chimes without cover

The doorbell generally will not work properly if the clapper or plungers have become dirty. Dirty clappers or plungers result in a muffled or muted sound. Removed the cover to inspect the points on the chimes or bells. They can then be cleaned using a cotton swab dibbed in alcohol, or an old toothbrush which has been coated with lighter fluid.

Step 2 - Replace the Grommets

If the clapper or plunger is not dirty, the problem may be with the rubber grommets. If those grommets are hard or brittle the doorbell may have very muted tones when pressed, and replacing those worn out grommets will restore the proper sound. These rubber grommets are available at most electrical supply stores, and they simply attach to the support holes on the tone bars.

Step 3 - Replace the Transformer

If more than one chime or bell is attached to a single transformer, the tones may be muted or too low in volume. Replacing the transformer with one with a greater low-voltage output will help both doorbells ring clearly.