Installing a doorbell is a home improvement project that requires little investment and just a little bit of time. You have a few options when it comes to doorbells. Wireless units are the easiest to install but hard-wired doorbells are very common. If you opt for a hard-wired doorbell, it will take a little more work, but both projects are relatively simple and a great undertaking for any do-it-yourselfer.
Installing a Wireless Doorbell
Installing a wireless doorbell is very simple and can be done in a matter of minutes. The transmitter and receiver run on batteries, so you don't have to worry about wiring. If installing a wireless unit on a home with no existing doorbell, skip to Step 3.
Step 1: Turn Off Power
Turn off the circuit breaker that supplies power to the old doorbell. Even though most doorbells are wired with a low-voltage transformer, there is still the danger of electric shock.
Backtrack the doorbell wires until you find the transformer, usually mounted on an existing electrical box. Disconnect the low-voltage wires by removing them from the screw terminals. Open the box cover and locate the wires that connect the transformer to the existing house wiring. The transformer wires could be either two black wires or a black wire and a white wire.
After confirming that the power is off, disconnect the transformer wires and replace any wire connectors that were removed during the process. Replace the box cover. Turn the circuit breaker back on to make sure the transformer is no longer supplying power. Secure disconnected wires to the wall or ceiling to prevent them from getting in the way.
If at any time you are unsure of the procedures listed above, please seek help from a qualified electrician.
Using a voltage tester is a simple way to confirm that the power is off.
Step 2: Remove Old Doorbell Button
Go outdoors to remove the old doorbell button. Again, it's important to make sure the circuit breaker is off. Remove the screws and pull the button away from the door trim or wall to expose the low-voltage wiring. Detach the wires from the button by loosening the screws and disconnecting the wires. Cover the old wire ends with electrical tape and then push them into the hole in the door trim or wall and seal the hole with a suitable caulking material. Paint the repaired hole with a matching paint of your choice.
Step 3: Install New Wireless Doorbell Button
Place batteries in the new transmitter (doorbell button) and attach the transmitter next to your door. You can attach the button using screws or adhesive. Some door chimes have coded transmitting and receiving units; so check the manufacturer's instructions to see if you need to set a code on either or both units of your doorbell.
Step 4: Place Indoor Receiver
In the instructions, look for the maximum distance between the transmitter and receiver. With this distance in mind, place the receiver (chime) in a location that is convenient and within the maximum distance from the transmitter. If the receiver plugs in, place the receiver near a convenient outlet. If it's battery operated, place batteries in the unit and attach the receiver to a convenient wall inside your home. Test the doorbell to make sure that it works.
Depending on the allocated distance on your new doorbell's packaging, you can have several receivers in different areas of your home. Some doorbells also allow for a front and back door installation.
Installing a Wired Doorbell
A hard-wired doorbell runs off your household current through a transformer. The doorbell button is wired to the chime through the walls. Wired doorbells are more common than wireless models and can be found in older as well as newer homes. Here is how to replace an existing doorbell and chime with a newer model.
Step 1: Turn Off Power
Deactivate the circuit powering the doorbell as you would in Step 1: Installing a Wireless Doorbell. Again, use a circuit tester to make sure the power is off.
Step 2: Remove Old Doorbell Button
Remove the old doorbell button screws and pull the button housing away from the trim or wall to expose the low-voltage wiring. Disconnect the wires from the doorbell button by loosening the screws and detaching the wires.
Tape the wires to the wall so they don't accidentally slide back into the hole.
Step 3: Install New Wired Doorbell Button
Now, install the new doorbell button. Follow all manufacturer instructions. Remove the tape you used in Step 2 to temporarily fasten the wires to the wall and connect the those wires to the appropriate screw terminals on the new doorbell. After making the connections, push the wires back into the wall so the new doorbell sits flush against the wall where the old doorbell was. Attach the new doorbell to the wall with the supplied mounting screws as directed by the manufacturer.
Create a seal around the base of the doorbell button with silicone or latex caulk to keep out moisture.
Step 4: Install New Chime
Locate the old chime unit in your house and remove it by taking out the mounting screws. Pull the unit away from the wall and secure the wires with tape. Disconnect the wires one at a time and tape each to the wall, labeling the screw location from which it was removed. Discard the old unit and remove the cover from the new chime unit. Thread the wires through the base of the unit and install the base against the wall with the mounting screws. Connect the wires to the appropriate terminals using the labels as a guide. Attach the cover to the chime unit and restore power to the circuit.
Congratulations! You have successfully installed a doorbell.
Project Shopping List
Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.