Tips on finding door bell transformer?

stash-hdyOctober 30, 2008

I searched for over an hour looking for the door bell transformer, can't find it. Found the wires in the attic and tried to trace them to the transformer. They seemed to go down the the first floor. Any TOOLS or tips would be really appreciated. Not in the garage or attic, checked closets, laundry room, etc,etc. ANY help would be appreciated. I assume that there has to be a transformer.

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normel

Check inside the breaker box; check for a box behind the chimes; check the basement.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 9:50PM
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shadetree_bob

Depending on how much you want to trace the wires, Amazon and others have "Circuit Tracker and Circuit Breaker Finders" that are available in several price ranges. Some have to have the power removed and some don't. I have used several different units and have had pretty good results.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 10:28PM
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gblentz

Kill all the power in the house except for the doorbell circuit and you MIGHT have a shot at tracing the circuit path using the AC detection feature many stud sensors now come equipped with.

Doorbell transformers can produce an audible hum when the secondary is closed (and sometimes even when it's not)... you MIGHT be able to locate it using a stethoscope.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 11:48PM
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spencer_electrician

Yeah one time I re-wired a house where the doorbell transformer was located on the hall light box. Previously just laying there. I mounted it to the box properly and it created a slight hum into the walls from the attachment vibration. The lady made me move it, for free ):

I would think yours in the basement or panel by the way you have already traced it. Is the basement finished? Many un-permitted basement finishes from d-i-y's or careless handymen will have the transformer buried up in the ceiling with no way to get to it.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 12:14AM
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terribletom

Many un-permitted basement finishes from d-i-y's or careless handymen will have the transformer buried up in the ceiling with no way to get to it.

Yup, true. That was exactly the case with one of my houses. When the previous owner sheetrocked the "rec room" in the basement, he covered up the door bell transformer as well as the main water supply shutoff valve.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 3:22PM
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pjb999

Here in British Columbia the standard place for the transformer, if not on a spare knockout in the electrical panel is in the furnace/mechanical room, being unfinished walls, you will find it attached to a knockout on the light switch, furnace switch or maybe attached to the mechanical room light jbox.

Look all round for those brown lvt wires, you'll find them.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 1:24AM
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stash-hdy

I still can't find it, not in the panel, traced the wires, don't have a basement, house built on a slab. Time for a wireless bell. I do think it was buried in a previous remodel by a previous owner.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 8:38AM
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saltcedar

Same here Slab on grade home. Doorbell transformer is right
next to the Furnace.

HTH
Chris

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 9:00AM
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stash-hdy

The area around the furnace was the first place I looked, the bell wires do not go into the area.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 9:38AM
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pjb999

lol you could be right about it being buried....is there a problem with the current one? Like I said the other thing to look for is whether it's attached to any exposed lighting "octagonal" box, which is common too (I install alarm systems and we use transformers similar to bell ones, and often place them on the same box (usually adding an extender) the bell transformer's on.

If the basement was finished later, it might be attached to a light or outlet that was there.

If it's faulty you might be able to abandon the wires to the original transformer (but if it's faulty it could become a hazard, and should be dealt with) - I think code here in BC says the transformer must be visible and accessible, but if it got built into a wall it might be possible to replace if you can remove the junction box and replace it with a 'remodel' box, you could attach a new transformer to it - again you might be breaking the rules. If it's attached to an outlet that's drywalled over, by removing the outlet covers and using a good flashlight, you may be able to spot the wires and connecting ring for the transformer that way.

The rules might permit you to put a transformer in a suitable box at a suitable height in the attic, (not sure about this) and connect it to an existing lighting circuit.

I know you've looked but I have to say it's bizarre that it's not located in the furnace/mechanical room or hanging off the breaker box, if it's not in those two areas or perhaps a cupboard under the stairs, I wonder if it was wired or remodelled to code at all.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 7:54PM
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countryboymo

Cut as many circuits as you can off and walk around the area where you think the transformer is with an AM radio and listen for the buzzing to change tones. The transformer has to be powered up though.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 8:53PM
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brickeyee

If there is a problem with the present one just install a new one and run some new wires as needed.

It would be better to find it and remove power but that may require opening every outlet to look for the 120 V feed.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 4:42PM
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stash-hdy

I would like to install another transformer, not sure how to hook it to the button. Do I run a new wire and splice into where the present wire goes down into the wall where the front door button is? Do I then go from the button to the transformer then to the chimes? Should I go to one chime, then from that chime to the other? If the transformer I can't find is left in place is that a fire hazard?

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 9:52PM
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cuffs054

Sometimes the trans is in/behind the bell itself.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 1:28PM
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stash-hdy

Went to install the wireless chime and guess what the transformer was in a box behind the downstairs chime.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 8:35AM
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