Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

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gas_balloon
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Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by gas_balloon »

We moved into a house that apparently has a wired doorbell chime somewhere. When I use a voltage tester near the doorbell, it sees low voltage power running. However when I press the bell button, nothing rings (there bell does work, just the come doesn't ring).

I checked the usual suspects (garage, pantry, etc) but can't find the chime anywhere in the house. The closest thing I could find was this little box next to the main power junction (red arrows in image). It's hard to find where this terminates as I can see the wire holder going into the wall (blue circle in image below). Could this box really have the chime inside it?

I'm trying to replace the doorbell with a better wired doorbell that can take video (I don't want to pay for cloud storage service with Ring or Nest), so need to locate the chime.

Image

Image

Any ideas on whether this box could be housing a chime, or some way to locate it?
123
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by 123 »

Things can vary depending on the age of the home and whether it is a condo or single family home. If there is a similar unit or house (ideally same floor plan) nearby you could explain your issue and ask them where the chime is in their place since in a tract all units are pretty much the same in many regards. Locations can vary depending on how old the home is. Often the chime is in a central hallway so it can be heard from a number of rooms. Newer construction might have it near the front door (would use less wire). The kitchen is a popular place for some chimes since it often doesn't have a direct view of the front door. Many chimes are centered above a door opening. In our home we have three chimes, central hallway, garage, rear family room.

I don't think the box in the photo would contain the chime. You might also want to locate the transformer that powers the doorbell. It might be near the chime but it could be elsewhere.
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Jablean
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by Jablean »

Chime boxes are usually about the size of a half size kleenex box, the size you might get in the hospital. 5x7x1
AllMostThere
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by AllMostThere »

As pictured, this is most likely NOT the DB Chime as it's too small. The DB Chime is usually located in a central location to enable homeowner to hear it throughout the house. Chime would either be hidden in wall and covered by a decorative grill or mounted externally to wall and covered by a decorative enclosure (size of tissue box as suggested by others). Mount location would be approximately 6-8 ft off floor, near front door, common area or in hallway near bedrooms.
fru-gal
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by fru-gal »

AllMostThere wrote: Sun Jan 05, 2020 7:54 am As pictured, this is most likely NOT the DB Chime as it's too small. The DB Chime is usually located in a central location to enable homeowner to hear it throughout the house. Chime would either be hidden in wall and covered by a decorative grill or mounted externally to wall and covered by a decorative enclosure (size of tissue box as suggested by others). Mount location would be approximately 6-8 ft off floor, near front door, common area or in hallway near bedrooms.
In my house it's on a wall in the living room/dining room area, about 8 feet off the floor and about 6x6x2 inches approximately. Has a decorative wood cover that sort of matches the wall paneling.
mrc
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by mrc »

If I'm reading the OP correctly, you can't find the chime and there is low voltage power at the door bell switch. Is it possible that the prior owner removed the chime unit? I would look for 'scar' on the wall in the foyer or entry way, about a foot from the ceiling. Sometimes you can see the ghost of the old chime, or filled and painted over mounting holes.
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retiredjg
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by retiredjg »

That does NOT look like a doorbell chime to me. It looks like an electrical junction box. Besides, thats just a weird place to put a doorbell chime.

In my experience, chimes are often in a central place - maybe a hallway or large open area - on the wall about 7 or 8 feet up. If you don't have something like that, maybe the chime was removed sometime back and the wire just left inside the wall.
Mr. Rumples
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by Mr. Rumples »

As noted above, the old chimes are about half the size of kleenex box. The one's from the 50's housed usually two hammers and two tone bars to give owners the option of different tones if a backdoor bell was also being used. See image below. My guess is they disconnected it and removed it since they were stunningly loud. Mine is in the kitchen above the wall phone outlet, they ran the wiring next to each other. I disconnected mine, perhaps your's was disconnected and removed during a renovation.

https://imgur.com/gallery/Wx7xN
Last edited by Mr. Rumples on Sun Jan 05, 2020 8:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RickBoglehead
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by RickBoglehead »

As stated, doorbell chimes are located on walls, very visible. The transformer that runs the chime may be mounted on the backside of a ceiling light box, or simply plugged into an outlet somewhere.

That is NOT a chime, that's an electrical box as stated.
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Yooper
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by Yooper »

But, since it's a home you recently moved in to and know nothing about - - you might as well take a screwdriver to the electrical box in the photos, open it up and see what IS inside it. You're going to need to know eventually, better you do it now when you want to, as opposed to some time in the future when you HAVE to.
gtd98765
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by gtd98765 »

Can you ask the former owner?
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jabberwockOG
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by jabberwockOG »

If you have low voltage power at the doorbell there must still be a transformer supplying that voltage. The existing chime may have been broken and was removed instead of replaced, but they left the transformer wired up - so the transformer might be in the attic or buried in the wall. As others have posted look for a subtle patch or new paint/plaster (or some decorative trim/object) that is hiding the chime's former location - about 6-12 inches from the ceiling in a central/hall location.

To get a general idea also try circuit breakers until you find the one that powers down the hidden transformer may help with possible location. If you have attic access, find the doorbell wire (it has a very specific look), where it comes up through the top plate near the front door, and trace the wire back to the transformer location or at least where the wire goes down through the top-plate into the wall below.
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JoMoney
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by JoMoney »

The box pictured looks to be completely sealed, most doorbell chimes that I've seen have some sort of openings, holes, a screen, or vent-like open lines so the audio isn't muffled and can be heard.
I wonder if rather than "not working", if the chime was removed and wherever it was patched and painted over :?

Know anyone that has a "fox and hound" toner? If you have access to the wires maybe you could track it back through the wall(s) with an audio toner.
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GrowthSeeker
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by GrowthSeeker »

I think your arrow is pointing to maybe just a junction box which could be for example turned into an outlet. It probably has nothing to do with the doorbell.
I'm used to seeing the main panel in an unfinished basement. So I'm not sure if the electric panel pictured is the only panel in the house or if it is maybe a secondary panel.

Go to where the power first comes into the house. Trace that wire to the main panel (which maybe is shown in the picture). Look for a wire going to the doorbell transformer (historically, different voltages have been used for this, e.g. maybe 10 volts up to 24 volts). In my case this was all in an unfinished basement so it was possible to follow the wires. If you find the transformer, you may be able to follow the wire from that to where it disappears going upstairs: that may give a clue to the whereabouts of the old wires buried somewhere in the wall. But those buried wires will not be connected to anything, no current will be flowing, so I'm not sure a detector would find them.
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fsrph
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by fsrph »

My cousin had this problem. I also looked and couldn't find the chime box. Finally, it was found behind the circular wall clock (which was build in the wall above the sink). Have no idea why it was there.

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pbearn
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by pbearn »

You say “when I press the bell button... bell does work, just the [chime] doesn't ring....”

What makes you think there’s any chime at all? If you have a working doorbell, and you cannot find or locate any other chime, what makes you think some other chime exists?

My guess is that you have a perfectly functional bell, only, and no chime.
tev9876
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by tev9876 »

That electrical box looks to be low voltage - the square conduit running to it does not appear to be large enough to house wires carrying 120 volts, nor is the box deep enough for an outlet. It is also not original construction since it is surface mounted. My guess would be phone, Ethernet or cable TV that was decommissioned and the cover changed to a solid plate instead of whatever jack used to be there. What part of the house is that electrical panel in? Is that the main breaker panel? Appears quite small for anything other than a small apartment or sub panel. I have a box like that in one of my bedrooms - originally the cable TV line entered straight thorough the wall. I didn't like it entering in the middle of the room so I rerouted it through the base plate into the basement, but left the box with a solid cover in the wall since there is a splice that may need to be serviced some day.

Looks like a typo in the first sentence of the OP that is making it hard for me to understand:
"(there bell does work, just the come doesn't ring)."

Does that mean the old pushbutton doorbell would ring, but the new video doorbell will not cause the ring? If so, that may not be wrong. I know Ring uses wireless chimes that plug into a regular outlet and connect to wifi to sound the bell. Your video doorbell may not be designed to connect the circuit to activate the old chime. If there is voltage at the doorbell wires it does not make sense that the chime was removed - if it was there would be an open circuit where the chime was and checking voltage across the wires would not complete the circuit. You could detect voltage on one wire if the other voltmeter probe was touching a different ground point, such as the ground prong on a regular outlet.
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cheese_breath
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by cheese_breath »

walletless wrote: Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:19 am We moved into a house that apparently has a wired doorbell chime somewhere. When I use a voltage tester near the doorbell, it sees low voltage power running. However when I press the bell button, nothing rings (there bell does work, just the come doesn't ring).
Are you referring to the chime? Last time I had this problem it turned out to be the button. Got a new button from Home Depot and that solved the problem.
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mpnret
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by mpnret »

tev9876 wrote: Sun Jan 05, 2020 10:43 am That electrical box looks to be low voltage - the square conduit running to it does not appear to be large enough to house wires carrying 120 volts, nor is the box deep enough for an outlet. It is also not original construction since it is surface mounted. My guess would be phone, Ethernet or cable TV that was decommissioned and the cover changed to a solid plate instead of whatever jack used to be there. What part of the house is that electrical panel in? Is that the main breaker panel? Appears quite small for anything other than a small apartment or sub panel. I have a box like that in one of my bedrooms - originally the cable TV line entered straight thorough the wall. I didn't like it entering in the middle of the room so I rerouted it through the base plate into the basement, but left the box with a solid cover in the wall since there is a splice that may need to be serviced some day.
Looks like 120v wiremold to me.
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neilpilot
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by neilpilot »

Do you happen to have an intercom system in your home? In my case, the chime is integral in the intercom system, and if the system volume control is turned all the way down the doorbell chime isn't heard. There's no separate chime box.
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Watty
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by Watty »

It was a bit different but I once had a burglar alarm siren that the installer mounted behind the grill of an air return duct so that it was not visible.
Tamales
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by Tamales »

The box in the photo is probably a splice box (splices are supposed to be enclosed), from the subpanel above it. Maybe they added (or moved) a 120V outlet somewhere. A mechanical doorbell with chime usually has a small transformer (~a 2-3 inch cube) mounted on the wall somewhere (mine is in the garage; it would be an eyesore to mount it in living areas, but could be in a closet).
Previous owners might have removed it and the chime, so unless you can find it and the associated wiring, you're probably going to have to route your own wires.

Do you have only one doorbell? (e.g. back door doorbell, and what happens when you press that button)
piperkub
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by piperkub »

Your chime has been discarded and only the low voltage transformer, which is separate, remains installed and active to the doorbell button. You can install the camera at the doorbell without locating the doorbell chime because the transformer is still lowering the house current down to 12 volts, the chime voltage and also the voltage required for a directly wired camera. But if you wanted to add a chime, most are offering a wireless chime to compliment the camera and locate it where ever you like. But, when your camera doorbell button is pressed, a tone will already occur in most of the recording apps on your phone, computer etc.
Dregob
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by Dregob »

I would look for the transformer which might be in your crawl space/basement/attic. We we removing wallpaper in our 1940s home and my wife saw a spark from her putty knife. Shocking although she was not shocked! A previous owner had disconnected and removed the doorbell (at the bell) but left the 12 volt wire live under the wall paper! I found the transformer, disconnected it they way it should have been done.
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gas_balloon
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by gas_balloon »

Thanks everyone for the responses. I talked to few neighbors, and unfortunately the transformer and chime are both no where to be found at places they are usually at in neighbors homes. It's still a mystery how the doorbell is receiving low voltage power!
mpnret
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by mpnret »

What does this mean in your original post? sounds like you may have a bell that works but can't find a chime????

"(there bell does work, just the come doesn't ring)."
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Watty
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by Watty »

walletless wrote: Sun Jan 05, 2020 4:08 pm Thanks everyone for the responses. I talked to few neighbors, and unfortunately the transformer and chime are both no where to be found at places they are usually at in neighbors homes. It's still a mystery how the doorbell is receiving low voltage power!
You can try turning off the circuit breakers one at at time to figure out which circuit it is on.

That might narrow down where the transformer is at.
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jabberwockOG
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by jabberwockOG »

walletless wrote: Sun Jan 05, 2020 4:08 pm Thanks everyone for the responses. I talked to few neighbors, and unfortunately the transformer and chime are both no where to be found at places they are usually at in neighbors homes. It's still a mystery how the doorbell is receiving low voltage power!
Call a pro. Any decent experienced electrician will figure out and resolve your problem in about an hour's time.
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lthenderson
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by lthenderson »

walletless wrote: Sun Jan 05, 2020 4:08 pm Thanks everyone for the responses. I talked to few neighbors, and unfortunately the transformer and chime are both no where to be found at places they are usually at in neighbors homes. It's still a mystery how the doorbell is receiving low voltage power!
The transformers are low voltage so depending on regulations in your area, they can be almost anywhere. In my current house, I found the transformer in a ceiling joist bay in the basement underneath the front door. In my old house, it was in a joist bay near the breaker box. In both cases, they were covered up with drywall or ceiling panels.

If you can't find it, your best bet is to just install a completely new system complete with a new transformer.
mrc
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by mrc »

Clearly, the prior owners remove the chime, but not the transformer.

So now, I want to know both where is the doorbell transformer, and what's in that floor safe. :D
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cheese_breath
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by cheese_breath »

mrc wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 10:39 am Clearly, the prior owners remove the chime, but not the transformer.

So now, I want to know both where is the doorbell transformer, and what's in that floor safe. :D
Maybe it's all in the floor safe. :wink:
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batpot
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by batpot »

You're better off getting something like this, and stop chasing wires:
https://www.amazon.com/Adapter-Doorbell ... B077XTJBXV

Just be sure to plug it in on an interior outlet.

If you have a video doorbell, your phone becomes the chime, and you can also get cheap "dots" or "minis" speakers that act as chimes, and place them wherever you want around the house.
Hiker-Biker
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Re: Help me locate the wired doorbell chime

Post by Hiker-Biker »

walletless wrote: Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:19 am We moved into a house that apparently has a wired doorbell chime somewhere. When I use a voltage tester near the doorbell, it sees low voltage power running. However when I press the bell button, nothing rings (there bell does work, just the come doesn't ring).

I'm trying to replace the doorbell with a better wired doorbell that can take video (I don't want to pay for cloud storage service with Ring or Nest), so need to locate the chime.

Image

Image

Any ideas on whether this box could be housing a chime, or some way to locate it?
I have a Ring 2 doorbell that I wired to my low voltage doorbell wiring. It keeps the battery charged. I don't pay for storing the recordings (safe neighborhood - no nearby incidents of package thefts or the like so far after a year of ownership). You can access video on your phone (Live view and someone pushing the doorbell button on the Ring). The Ring 2 has a built in speaker so you can hear the doorbell in your house and it activates the Ring app on your phone.
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