Are you looking to change your doorbell or how it sounds inside your house? Maybe the doorbell has stopped working and you are trying to find the cause. Before you can perform any of these tasks, you need to find and turn off the circuit breaker that your doorbell is connected to.
This can be a simple task if your doorbell’s circuit breaker is labeled. However, most time it isn’t labeled, and things are complicated further because it doesn’t have its own circuit breaker. So how do you find your doorbell’s circuit breaker?
Finding the doorbell breaker is not the easiest task, but it is possible to do it yourself. In this article, we explain how.
What is a Doorbell Breaker?
Before we get into the different methods of finding the doorbell breaker, it is important to know what a breaker is and how doorbells work. The breaker is a device that feeds power to your doorbell. Usually, it is not inside your main electrical panel. Instead, it is connected to any other existing electrical system in your home.
How Does a Doorbell Work?
Doorbells themselves are relatively simple electrical systems that work around the idea of electromagnetism. When you press the doorbell button, the electromagnets inside it create a magnetic field. This magnetic field activates the chime.
There are three main components in doorbell systems: the doorbell transformer, the doorbell, and the chime. The purpose of the transformer is to lower the voltage coming to the doorbell, the doorbell with its push button activates the chime, and the chime is the component where the wirings connect to run the entire system.
There are four wires in a doorbell system that all connect to the chime There are two wires from the transformer to the chime and another two connecting the doorbell and the chime. In most doorbell systems, the wires are red and black.
If you would like to know more about doorbell wiring and troubleshooting issues with the wiring, you can watch this video.
How to Find The Circuit Breaker?
There are two different ways you can try to find the circuit breaker yourself. The first one is to find it by tracing the wires all the way to the circuit breaker and the other is a trial and error method. You will find the details for both of these methods below.
Method One: Tracing The Wires
Depending on your setup, this method can be time-consuming, but it will lead you to the circuit breaker. Here is how you trace the wires to find the doorbell breaker.
Step One: Finding The Chime
The first thing to do is to find the doorbell’s chime inside the house. Its location may not be obvious because they are often installed as discreetly as possible. If you cannot locate the chime by just looking for it, you will need to trace the wiring from the push-button doorbell unit to the chime.
But what to do if you have a wireless doorbell? Then you need to locate the chime by listening to where the sound comes from. Get someone to press the bell repeatedly while you listen to where it is loudest. Usually, the chime is located in a spot where it is easily heard throughout the house.
Step Two: Finding The Doorbell Transformer
After you have found the chime, it is time to locate the transformer for the doorbell. The doorbell transformer is usually hard-wired somewhere between the sound system and the nearest power supply so you should not have to trace the wires too far.
Your doorbell will either have exposed wires or they will be hidden inside the walls. If your wires are exposed, it will be easy to trace them to the endpoint, the transformer. However, many systems will have hidden wires because they keep the setup more discreet. So what can you do to trace hidden wires to the transformer?
You don’t need to start looking inside the walls for the wires. What you should do instead, is to look in your basement or your attic for an electrical box near the chime’s location. Find the nearest switch, receptacle, or junction box in one of these spaces because the chime is likely to share the circuit with other electrical devices.
Step Three: Finding The System’s Circuit Breaker
Once you have located the transformer, the final step is to find the breaker. Follow the wiring from the transformer to locate the right breaker, which will be within the main electrical panel.
To identify the correct circuit for your doorbell, you may need to use a circuit breaker finder or an outlet tester. Plug your tool into a receptacle that shares the same circuit as the transformer. Then plug the receiver probe into the circuit breakers inside the panel. Repeat until you find the breaker that matches the circuit of the receptacle.
Method Two: Trial And Error
If trying to trace the wires to locate the transformer and the circuit breaker sounds too time-consuming or tricky, you can try the trial and error way instead. You will need to touch the electrical breakers, so before you start, get yourself electrical protective equipment and be very cautious when touching live electrics.
To find the correct breaker, you need to start switching off one circuit breaker at a time from the breaker panel. To make the job easier, have a helper press the doorbell after each breaker has been switched off. Keep turning the breakers off and back on until you find the right one for your doorbell.
Note that you should not try this method in households or residential premises while others need continuous electrical supply, for example in a home office or a workshop in a garage. You also need to ensure that you turn each circuit breaker back on to avoid any issues with the power supply to your electrical equipment.
Method Three: Using a Professional
If chasing wires and testing circuit breakers doesn’t sound like something you would want to do, you can always call in a professional electrician. Your best bet is to contact the company that installed the doorbell in the first place.
If that is not possible, for example, if you have moved into a new house and do not know the company, professionals from other doorbell companies should be able to carry out the job, too. It just might take them a little longer since they do not know the system.
This is the recommended route for anyone who is not comfortable with electrics. It is not only the safest option for you but will ensure there is no damage caused to the electrical system in your home.
Can You Touch Doorbell Wires?
Even though doorbells have low-voltage wiring, you should only touch doorbell wires if you are sure they are not carrying any current. If you have turned off the power that feeds the doorbell from the circuit breaker, then it should be safe. There will be zero voltage because the power supply has been switched off.
However, you should never touch the wires if you are not positive the power to them has been cut off. Always use a qualified electrician if you are not sure how to deal with electrical systems safely.
Can a Doorbell Transformer Stop Working?
Just like any electrical equipment, transformers can stop working, too. If your transformer is not working properly, it can stop supplying power to the doorbell or cause an electrical overload to the doorbell.
To inspect your transformer, start by checking the wiring. Check for damaged or lose wires or connections. If the wiring seems to be in order, the next step is to use a voltage tester to measure the voltage. Note that you should not measure the voltage at the transformer as this will not give you an accurate reading.
Instead, measure the voltage at the doorbell where it should be 120 volts. This is enough to power the doorbell and stop it from short-circuiting. If the voltage is correct, check the connection points next. Start with the transformer connection points and go through the whole circuit.
In some cases, you may need to replace the transformer. It is possible to do the job yourself if you are comfortable working with electrical wiring. Alternatively, you can call in a professional electrician to carry out the installation of a new transformer.
If you want to make any changes to your doorbell, you need to turn off the power supply first. It is not always easy to find the doorbell circuit breaker, because often it is not labeled nor does it have a dedicated circuit breaker within the home’s electrical system.
To find the circuit breaker, you have three options:
- Trace the wiring
- Trial and error
- Call in a professional
We hope you have found the doorbell circuit breaker using one of the options shared in this article. If you would like to ask us anything about doorbell breakers, you can write your questions in the comments box.