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5 Steps to Replace Your Doorbell

For the handy, replacing a doorbell can be a fun DIY electrical project.

There are lots of reasons you may want to replace a doorbell. Maybe your old doorbell is broken, you’re interested in a new chime or wireless unit, or perhaps you even want to install a camera-enabled security doorbell. Here are a few easy steps to replace a doorbell using a doorbell kit, which involves the doorbell itself and either wireless or wired chimes.

1. Turn off the Power

Always turn off the power to the circuit first (both for the doorbell and the chimes). This may be tricky if your doorbell has stopped working – if you’re not completely sure what circuit the doorbell is on, it can be difficult to test. You cannot always rely on outdoor lighting to be on the same circuit, so a good way to test is with a voltage tester. If in doubt about electrical safety, don’t risk it, and call the pros.

2. Disassemble the Old System

Once you’re sure the power is off in your circuits of interest, use a screwdriver to remove the old doorbell. Inside the house, remove the chime unit. Attached to both, you will typically find two wires. They are interchangeable on the doorbell, but typically not on the chimes.  

3. Replace the Doorbell Itself

Take your new doorbell, and connect it to the two existing wires. If these wires are badly damaged, cut off the worn area, and strip a new half inch of wire. Connect these wires (again, it doesn’t matter which wire goes to which terminal) to the doorbell – pliers are typically helpful at this step to wrap the wires. Screw the new doorbell back in.

4. Replace the Chimes (or Place the Wireless Unit)

If you’re replacing a wired unit, pay attention to which wire is attached to which terminal on the old chimes. You will need to connect the wires in the same manner on your new chimes. If you are replacing an old, wired system with a wireless one, you can either choose to remove these chimes or leave them where they are. Some wireless units plug into an outlet, while others are battery-powered and mount on a wall.

5. Restore the Power and Test

If your new doorbell works, you’re done! Some common hurdles along the way may include:

  • Different spacing on the doorbell or chimes’ screw placement – you will need to drill new holes for the screws
  • Smaller doorbell faceplate than the old one – you may need to use caulk or wood putty to fill in the gaps

If after installing and troubleshooting a new doorbell you’re still experiencing problems, it may be time to call an electrician. There could be an underlying issue with the wiring or another problem that’s dangerous for an untrained individual to approach. As with any DIY venture – but particularly with electrical projects – trust your intuition and don’t be afraid to ask for help.


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