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Posted by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 1/31/2013

One of the things that has annoyed me since I moved in up here has been the doorbell on the front door.

In part that's because they never actually PUT a doorbell on the door; apparently the ones that they had didn't work, and after we closed on the house it just sorta wasn't the builder's problem any more. I didn't view that as a big deal as I would have surely replaced the standard doorbell with something a bit fancier anyway, and besides there's nobody coming to visit on a regular basis here at the back of the canyon. So that wasn't a problem.

The real issue came from the fact that when I started to think about the doorbell and what I might put there, I looked at the chimes around the house (there are three for the front door so you can hear it everywhere), then went to the door and rang the bell. (In this case I just touched the wires together; they are 16V wires and all a doorbell does is close the connection when you press the button.) Imagine my surprise when nothing happened!

I checked breakers everywhere... nothing is really marked as "doorbell" anywhere, but given that the chimes are scattered across the house they are probably each on a different circuit. Nothing was tripped anywhere. Colleen assured me that during construction she was there when they were testing the lines and distinctly remembers one confirming there was power at the chime, and she thinks (wasn't 100% sure) that she remembers the bell being rung as a test. So why it wasn't working didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense.

Researching the manuals for the doorbells (Never let the crews toss your manuals! We had to intervene to save ours!) I discovered that the chimes actually work on a 16V AC power supply from  a transformer that is itself wired into 120V. I knew there was nothing like that in the circuit breaker boxes (that's probably not even code anyway), so I searched around in the attic thinking it might be hooked up somewhere there. No luck.

Yesterday I took the downstairs chime off the wall to see how it's wired, and it's only got the two 16V bell wire lines running into it. Interestingly enough, there are 120V lines behind it in the niche, capped off because they're live (found that out almost the hard way--it wasn't a very big fire, honest). This indicated to me that the transformer might be behind one of the chimes, but I ran out of time for further investigation.

So today just on a lark I decided to check the 16V circuit to see if it was live--and it wasn't. Hmmmm. With this in mind (and knowing the 120V in the wall was live), I went upstairs to check the chime in the library.

The good news is I found the transformer! The bad news is I also think I know why the doorbell isn't working... it's partially crushed!

Good grief. What the smeg is wrong with some people?!?!?

Steven in Colorado


The transformer! Note the crushed top; at a guess I'd say that the internal connections are busted. I assume I'll need to replace this puppy.

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