What's this electric thing in my closet?

Fori is not pleasedMay 17, 2011

This is on the inside wall of the closet above the door. The house was built in the mid 50s, and I have no idea what this is. It's in the entry hall. The wall on the outside of the closet has never had any holes (paneling keeps no secrets). Oh, I know what the one on the left is. :) Thanks!

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calliope

LOL.....dunno. But do you have or have you ever had a doorbell?

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 5:49PM
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badgergrrl

Looks like the transformer for a doorbell.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 6:59PM
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Fori is not pleased

Doorbell makes sense--are they ever mounted entirely in a closet? Yet there aren't any holes or patches for the dinging part. There is an existing doorbell and it's elsewhere, in what I THINK is the original location because I just vacated another house in the subdivision by the same builder etc.

There is also a set of bells in the backyard that I assume is a doorbell but doesn't ring. We just moved in and haven't had time to trace all the weirdities yet.

So it's not a bomb. Whew. :)

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 8:19PM
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sunnyca_gw

Do it yourself alarm system?? Get a good flashlight & see if you can find any writing on the "thing". Can you tell which direction the wiring is going- attic or upstairs I guess since not down wall.(look with flashlight!) Sounds like you are going to have some puzzles to work through! Good Luck!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 11:28PM
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badgergrrl

It's not the bell / chime part, it's just the transformer, which steps the electricity down to what is needed for your bell.

Article linked below...

Here is a link that might be useful: About wired doorbells

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 11:43PM
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columbusguy1

Another option to consider: rather than a doorbell transformer, it could be a ringer box for your telephone! My house has such a box mounted in the basement, and it would go off whenever someone called, until I found the volume switch and turned it down--not all old phones had their own bells inside, so the house needed such a box to let you know of an incoming call.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 3:35AM
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calliope

No all old phones had ringers.....the big set of bells can still be bought at places like radio shack. My mother was going deaf and I bought a set like that so that it would produce a loud 'mechanical' ringing, instead of the softer electronic ring of the new phones in the hopes she could tell when someone was ringing her up. They can be mounted outside, too so that you can hear if the phone is ringing in the house when you are outside. These were popular in the days before wireless and mobile phones. It was an issue.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 10:31AM
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Fori is not pleased

I was ready for the doorbell explanation and now you bring up phones! It could probably be either. Or neither. I thought it was part of the original construction but on second glance, it's not as pretty an installation as I'd expect. On the other hand, this closet was never even painted. Yet it does have the same mahogany trim as the outside. Maybe they forgot...

Anyway, it's a one story house (crawl space/crawl attic) and this is pretty close to the front door. (Also pretty close to everything else since it's not that big a house.)

Thanks for the suggestions. I still don't know but at least I have a clue. I'll have to crawl around in the attic and figure out some of these things.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 12:44PM
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liriodendron

Could it have been part of a visual annunciator system for the telephone/TTY for a deaf person? (Or same function for a door bell?)

L

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 2:08PM
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calliope

So where are the chimes part of your doorbell located? In my folks' 1930s house, immediately over the entry way closet on the outside. I shall have to look to see if the transformer is located just on the other side on the inside of the entry wall closet. LOL. I do believe, however, their door bell transformer is inside a large decorative box where the chimes are.

I do agree, it does look like a voltage step-down for a solenoid device, and i'm still wagering it's a door bell transformer. Those red and black wires do not feed anything with much voltage.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 2:38PM
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badgergrrl

Listen to calliope (and to me), it's a transformer, and unless you have some other type of hardwired low-voltage thing in your house (old-school intercom?), it's for the doorbell. New doorbells have them built right in, old ones don't. You can mount the transformers wherever you want, as long as it's between the line voltage and the doorbell. They don't have to be close to either the chimes or the button. (Mine is mounted on the wall in the basement under the front of the house. They ran the doorbell and chime wires along in the basement.)

Here is a link that might be useful: More diagrams and pictures

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 3:06PM
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Fori is not pleased

Sounds doorbelly.

It could have been an intercom--I've seen at least one in this subdivision and this house was one of the spendier ones.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 3:27PM
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DavidR

The size, shape, and location strongly suggest doorbell transformer.

Another possibility, somewhat less likely, is that it's a transformer for a gas heater of some kind, perhaps a wall furnace or even a coal furnace conversion burner.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 2:00AM
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Fori is not pleased

Hmm. There is an unringing bell on the back patio that I thought was an accessory doorbell, but it does have a wire running directly to a phone jack.

Ack. I'm gonna have to crawl around in the attic, aren't I?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 7:58PM
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calliope

The phone jack set of bells is not part of your doorbell system. It is the unit I was telling you about you can still get at radio shack. It was mounted outside, so that it rang when the impulse came in through the phone lines and if you were outside, you could tell when somebody was trying to call you. They were popular in the days before mobile or cordless phones. It does not have to be wired in to any transformer because the ringer is set off by the same small electrical impulse what sets off your phone ringers. It's totally unrelated to your transformer in the closet. Trust me on this one. I have a set. Do you see a push button to operate it? No. If you have a button at your rear entrance, it has nothing to do with that set of bells. Doorbell ringers are inside, so you can actually hear that somebody is outside. LOL.

Here is a link that might be useful: Suttle equipment

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 11:22AM
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Fori is not pleased

Right. I'm assuming those bells are for the phone. I don't know if the closet transformer is for those, the regular doorbell, or another, smaller set of bells (much more doorbelly) elsewhere on the back porch.

The main doorbell ringer is inside. Of course. But having a ringer in the backyard (no button) would make sense as the original owners were into backyard entertaining. This is one of those postwar neighborhoods that was built for that sort of thing!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 11:58AM
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calliope

"Right. I'm assuming those bells are for the phone. I don't know if the closet transformer is for those"

No, fori......I just told you they had nothing to do with a transformer. The electric they used is provided by the telephone line and those are telephone annunciators and a self contained unit. Are you finding another set of bells or something? If you aren't then you don't have outside door bell chimes. You may have a back door button for a door bell, but it is connected to the same system your front door doorbell is but would have a different ring pattern so you'd know whether someone was at your front or back door.

I grew up in that era........and although it is possible to have an annunciator so that you could hear outside if someone was ringing at your front door, it would be something pretty unusual and likely a custom installation. You're making something really complicated out of a simple, common pair of devices. If your front doorbell works now, go unhook those two little wires inside the closet. If your front (or back) doesn't work then you'll know we were right.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 1:29PM
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brickeyee

Doorbells are normally 24 Volts, 60 Hertz, AC.

The ringing voltage for a phone is 90 volts, 20 hertz, AC.

It really looks like a plain old doorbell transformer, at least it is not buried inside the wall.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 10:07AM
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