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Home DIY Project - Install a Louder Doorbell Chime
Dear James: Now that I am getting older and have to play the TV louder, I have trouble hearing the doorbell. Can I install a new louder one myself? I'm not an electrician. -- Mick H.
Dear Mick: Hearing the doorbell over the normal sounds of a family can be difficult at times. If you have your dishwasher or clothes washer running, it is even worse. Adding another doorbell chime is one option or perhaps just replace your current one with a louder model. This is not a difficult project to do yourself.
First, pop the cover off your old door chime and make sure it is clean. It can accumulate a lot of dust over the years. Depending on the design of your doorbell chime, the dust may muffle the sound. When it is cleaned, try it again. If you are lucky, it may now be loud enough for you to hear without having to do any further work.
If it still is not loud enough, check the specifications on it. Its wattage will give you an idea how powerful it is. Your home center store will sell many chimes of various power and loudness. Installing just a louder one will eliminate the arduous task of having to run wires through the wall to a new chime.
Before leaving for the home center, first check the wattage rating on the doorbell transformer. Doorbells operate on a safe, low 16 volts. The transformer, usually located near the main circuit breaker box, lowers the standard 110-volt house power to only 16 volts. They often make a low humming sound.
A more powerful doorbell chime (higher wattage) may require a more powerful transformer to power it. If you end up needing a second, or even a third doorbell chime, you will definitely need a new, more powerful transformer. The prices do not vary much by the wattage output.
Replacing a transformer is a simple job. Make sure the electric power is turned off to the transformer. You can often hear it hum when it has power, but still check the wires leading to it with a voltage or circuit tester to make sure the power is definitely off. Unscrew the old transformer and mount the new old in its place.
If you have to install an additional doorbell chime somewhere else in your house, run light-gauge solid-core copper wire to it. Since the output voltage from the transformer to the chime is only 16 volts, you won't need professional wiring skills to do this. The most difficult part of the job is fishing the wires through the walls.
Most chimes will have several sets of contacts for the wires. Different contacts produce different sounds. This is used if you have several doorbell buttons at different doors so know which door to go to. You should connect the low-voltage wires to the chime contacts marked "front" for simplicity. Switch the electric power on again, test it and you are done.
If all of this still seems too complicated, try installing a wireless doorbell kit. There are no wires connecting the button to the chime. When someone pushes the doorbell button, it sends a wireless signal to the chime to ring. You should be able to install one of these wireless kits yourself in about 30 minutes. It does require batteries to operate.
Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com.
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