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Mon Apr 15, 2019, 07:10 PM

Weird doorbell issue, chirps randomly like a smoke alarm battery

I've had an electrician over who was certain it was just my smoke alarm echoing, but believe me I know where the sound originates. I've googled and seems others have had a similar issue, but the repair instructions vary.

The doorbell started the random chirping not long after someone rang it (only the second time in a year, I live in an apt so knocking is sufficient. My landlord is super cheap so no way will he pay to repair the issue).

It did it only now and then, so tolerated it. Then one night started doing it repeatedly, making both me and my cat crazy. So after much effort got the cover off, and saw the wires were all eroded. After shutting off the circuit breaker I cut the wires and removed the unit.

Blissful silence...until a few hours later started again! It stops when I turn off the breaker, so now when I leave or go to bed turn off that breaker to be safe. I'm afraid I might forget sometime though and my poor kitty will go insane, maybe my neighbors too. And would be nice to turn on the light when I enter my door!

My building is almost 100 years old, and I read something about aging contacts behind the doorbell button possibly being an issue?

The electrician offered to look behind where the box was high on the wall, but he didn't really know what was going on, and it would involve cutting into the wall and make a mess (and a lot of noise that would scare the bejesus out of my elderly cat), so if it could be solved via the button area that would be ideal.

Thank you!

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Reply Weird doorbell issue, chirps randomly like a smoke alarm battery (Original post)
freeplessinseattle Apr 2019 OP
mbusby Apr 2019 #1
freeplessinseattle Apr 2019 #2
ProudLib72 Apr 2019 #3
Callmecrazy Apr 2019 #7
ProudLib72 Apr 2019 #8
OilemFirchen Apr 2019 #9
Callmecrazy Apr 2019 #10
ProudLib72 Apr 2019 #11
freeplessinseattle Apr 2019 #12
ProudLib72 Apr 2019 #15
freeplessinseattle Apr 2019 #16
Lochloosa Apr 2019 #4
safeinOhio Apr 2019 #5
freeplessinseattle Apr 2019 #14
TreasonousBastard Apr 2019 #6
freeplessinseattle Apr 2019 #13
DFW Apr 2019 #17
fleur-de-lisa Apr 2019 #18
fleur-de-lisa Apr 2019 #19
freeplessinseattle Apr 2019 #20
onethatcares Apr 2019 #21
jpak Apr 2019 #22

Response to freeplessinseattle (Original post)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 07:22 PM

1. We have had...

...a mechanical doorbell button occasionally stick where it would then cause the doorbell to buzz. We now use a Nest Hello electronic doorbell button. Don't know if this is related to your issue.

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Response to mbusby (Reply #1)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 07:26 PM

2. Thank you! Did it buzz randomly?

It would be so nice to get this problem resolved, and I know there has to be a solution, just don't want to throw money away on more electricians who think it's the smoke alarm!

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Response to freeplessinseattle (Original post)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 07:32 PM

3. I don't want to scare you (but you should be)

If you left those wires from the bell unit exposed, then you have exposed live wires dangling at head level.

The least you need to do right now is shut off the breaker, put a lot of electrical tape around the end of each wire, and push them out of the way!

Does the button have a light? I can't think of any reason why the button would be making noise when the circuit is not completed unless there is a secondary circuit for a light.

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Response to ProudLib72 (Reply #3)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 08:13 PM

7. The voltage on those wires is probably less than 24 volts...

It'll be fine.

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Response to Callmecrazy (Reply #7)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 08:21 PM

8. 24 volts and tied into the breakers?

I don't think so. 115V

Amps might not be high, though

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Response to ProudLib72 (Reply #8)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 08:46 PM

9. Doorbells are wired through a transformer.

Typically 6 to 16 volts.

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Response to ProudLib72 (Reply #8)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 08:47 PM

10. There's a step down transformer before the bell...

Goes down to 24 volts. A doorbell is class 2 wiring.

Been an electrician 25 years.

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Response to Callmecrazy (Reply #10)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 09:22 PM

11. Ok, I believe you

Makes sense.

I'm just expert at how to melt pliers.

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Response to ProudLib72 (Reply #3)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 10:14 PM

12. It's far enough up I had to use a chair, but I appreciate the concern!

I have been thinking maybe it is dangerous to have those live wires there though, just hesitant to chop into the wall. Maybe just the electrical tape will help.

My landlord is so damn cheap, believe me-there's been a window sitting on the floor in the stairwell for over a week that he knows about but apparently is in no hurry to get fixed.

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Response to freeplessinseattle (Reply #12)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 10:59 PM

15. I wasn't aware of the step down transformer

It should be safe enough, if unsightly.

They make wireless doorbells in case you are interested: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Hampton-Bay-Wireless-Battery-Operated-Door-Bell-Kit-with-1-Push-Button-in-White-HB-7738-03/304225260

My old landlord put one in when he didn't want to deal with replacing the old chimes. I have to say, the wireless doorbell worked! You can also use it to cover up the wires from the old chimes.

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Response to ProudLib72 (Reply #15)

Tue Apr 16, 2019, 12:08 AM

16. Honestly don't even know why there's a doorbell, my apt is small enough

And is a buzz entry so if someone is coming to the door and is welcome you should be anticipating them.

The landlord seems to like using it though, and amazingly shelled out to get them all repaired some years back. Those wireless ones sound pretty cool though!

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Response to freeplessinseattle (Original post)


Response to freeplessinseattle (Original post)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 07:46 PM

5. If all the doors have the same system, I'd go ahead

and talk to the owner, as may have seen the problem before. Might cost a little, but you could try the local locksmiths. They install and maintain door bells.

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Response to safeinOhio (Reply #5)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 10:24 PM

14. Now that is a good idea!

As a matter of fact, am going to have to call a locksmith anyway, since the landlord just replaced a lock that was being super fussy. He had a tough time, but is 80 years old and very stubborn, proud and cheap (but drives a Jaguar) so was determined to do it himself.

Unfortunately it didn't work well for long, think it's just an aging lock system in the door that requires a locksmith. I am just going to pay for it myself, better to have it fixed by a pro, and maybe while they're here they can possibly fix the doorbell too! That would be perfect.

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Response to freeplessinseattle (Original post)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 07:54 PM

6. Are you sure, I mean really, really sure, that it's not the fire alarm? Could the fire alarm be...

on the same circuit as the doorbell?

I had a mysterious loud chirping I thought was the fire alarm battery going bad, but when I removed the alarm the chirping kept going until I finally found the CO detector which had its sensor in death throes. Chirping in an apartment can bounce around the walls and be very difficult to isolate.

It's tough to believe that if you actually did remove the power from the doorbell by cutting wires (and removing it!) it would still be chirping.

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #6)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 10:18 PM

13. I've already tried moving my battery operated smoke alarm

And doesn't make a difference in the location of the sound.

From what I've read, could be a transformer going bad, or the stuck contacts. If it is impossible then I guess will need an exorcist! (I'm sure the electrician in this thread might have mentioned an impossibility, but it is a confounding thing for sure!)

Maybe this calls for Dr. House (if he changed careers)

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Response to freeplessinseattle (Original post)

Tue Apr 16, 2019, 07:01 AM

17. Be thankful you didn't have THIS kind of door issue:

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Response to DFW (Reply #17)

Tue Apr 16, 2019, 08:33 AM

18. Want!

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Response to freeplessinseattle (Original post)

Tue Apr 16, 2019, 08:37 AM

19. I have a doorbell/intercom system that was installed when my house was built in the 80s.

After someone rings the doorbell, it continues to make a loud buzzing noise inside the house. A repairman told me the entire system would probably need to be replaced. The intercom doesn't work at all but the doorbell does.

I am able to make the buzzing stop by going outside and pushing the doorbell again. Works like a charm every time.

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Response to fleur-de-lisa (Reply #19)

Tue Apr 16, 2019, 12:03 PM

20. My darn intercom does the same thing sometimes!

The button gets stuck every once in awhile so I have to leave it off the hook and go downstairs and press the button again. I've taken to leaving it off the hook when I leave so it doesn't happen when I'm gone and drive my cat batty. Of course my landlord doesn't care. He used to care more but I think he's getting a littke dotty in his old age.

Sure wish the doorbell solution was that simple, but may have to be entirely dismantled, out of my own pocket. I'm afraid to try just pressing it again since it might end up with a constant chirping which would be worse!

This may be what finally drives me to move, even though rent is sky high in Seattle now, and I pay less than new tenants since I've lived here awhile. Not into commuting further than I have to either, especially since a recent car accident.

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Response to freeplessinseattle (Original post)

Wed Apr 17, 2019, 01:24 PM

21. I clicked on this

hoping to see a reference to door buzzards but this one is about the real deal.

Please put a notice to that effect on the OP.

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Response to freeplessinseattle (Original post)

Wed Apr 17, 2019, 04:32 PM

22. Obviously the evil machinations of the Door Buzzard



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