How to Hook-Up a Doorbell


Whatever your reason for replacing your old doorbell, the actual installation is not very difficult. A doorbell kit and few basic tools are all you'll need. It is a very small price for the sake of enjoying the chime you have chosen and may have to listen to multiple times a day.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdrivers (Phillips and flat head)
  • Circuit tester
  • Doorbell kit (should include screws)
  • Safety goggles
  • Wire strippers
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Electrical tape
  • Pencil and masking tape/paper/label
  • Ladder or stepladder (if needed to reach chimes)
  • Turn off the breaker that connects power to the doorbell. While a doorbell may not conduct much electricity, there is no reason to risk shock. Put a piece of electrical tape over the switch; you may even want to put up a sign to warn others that you are working on the electricity.

  • Unscrew the old doorbell switch from beside your door and pull it from the wall slowly. Test the wires to make sure they are not conducting electricity; a non-contact voltage tester will chirp when near a hot wire. Remove the wires at the screw terminals on the existing switch, either by hand or with needle nose pliers.

  • Secure the wires with electrical tape to hold them in place outside the hole. Ensure that the exposed portions of wire do not look corroded. If they do, cut off the exposed ends and then strip off about 3/8 inch of insulation from each of the wires.

  • Attach the wires to the new switch at the same screw terminals, either by hand or with the pliers. Once the wires are attached, screw down the screw terminals to cover exposed wires. It should not matter which wire goes where on the switch.

  • Remove the tape and guide the wires back into the hole in the wall. Use the screws provided with the kit to mount your new switch to the wall.

  • Using a ladder if it is too high to reach from the ground, unscrew the chime unit from the wall as you did with the switch. Once you have the chime unit pulled from the wall, label each of the wires where it was connected in the old unit.

  • Unscrew the screw terminals to release the old wires, using the pliers if necessary. Secure the wires. Check the wires to ensure they do not look corroded or discolored. If so, cut the exposed ends and remove about 3/8 inch of the insulation from the wires.

  • Begin connecting the wires to the new unit's screw terminals in the same places they were connected on your old unit. Then, screw the screw terminals down to cover exposed wires.

  • Remove the electrical tape and labels so you can guide the wires back into the hole. Once the new unit is flush with the wall, use screws provided with your doorbell kit to screw it into place.

  • Turn the power back on at your breaker and test the new doorbell. If you have any issues with it, check to make sure that all of the wires have been tightly attached to the screw terminals.

Tips & Warnings

  • Most hardware stores will let you try out the doorbell chimes in the store, so you can find one you like.
  • As with any project, be aware of any local ordinances that could prevent you from doing this work to your house.
  • If you feel at all uncomfortable doing electrical work, call a professional.

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