How to Install a Doorbell Button
There are many reasons to replace a decorative doorbell button. I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t want a kitschy cool pineapple doorbell button? – It’s all too beautiful!
The good news is that most of the time replacing a doorbell button is an easy thing to do.
How to Install a Doorbell Button: Wired Doorbells
The short video below by our friend Dennis Coffey demonstrates how to replace or install a doorbell button. Please note, if you are not comfortable install electrical products, please hire a qualified electrician.
First, choose a replacement wired doorbell button. If you want a different style of doorbell button, make sure the replacement is going to fit. Be prepared, for example, to at least add a little paint around a new rectangular doorbell button if you’re replacing a round doorbell button. Other times, the space might have been specifically designed for the doorbell and it might require more of an intervention than you want to make a replacement.
Note: if you have an older doorbell, test the voltage across the button before selecting a replacement. All doorbells have a transformer that reduces the voltage from the house line voltage (120 volts (V) and normally 15 amps) to something much less, which makes it safe to touch the wires that lead to the doorbell button, but not other wires in the house or the doorbell. However, current doorbells use a smaller voltage (16 V or 12 V) than earlier doorbells, which used a higher voltage (36 V or 24 V). When a doorbell button rated for a lower voltage is installed in a doorbell that uses a higher voltage, the doorbell can get hot, especially if the doorbell button has a light in it.
Next, remove the old doorbell from the wall by unscrewing it. If you haven’t previously removed it for testing, you might have to cut away caulk or paint. Now, unscrew the wires. As we mentioned above, you don’t have to turn the power off for this because the voltage is very low, but if it makes you feel safer, there’s no harm in turning the power off. If the wires feel like they want to slip back into the house, a clothespin or other large clip can be used to hold them outside the wall so they don’t go in – fishing them back out can be nearly impossible.
Now screw the wires onto the new doorbell. It doesn’t matter which wire goes where. So long as both have good connections the bell should work fine. Twist the wire around the screw in a clockwise arc so that the wire has more connection and the action of the screw pulls the wire in, rather than pushes it out.
If the doorbell has a light on it, this should be lit up when you connect the wires. Test the button before you put it back on the wall. If it doesn’t work, check the connections on the wires. If these seem fine, disconnect one and touch it to the other to make sure you get a tone. If you don’t, it’s likely you forgot to turn the power back on before trying your test.
If the doorbell is working, put caulk around the back of the doorbell before securing it in place. This will keep air and bugs from using your doorbell as an entry and exit. Once the caulk is dried, you can touch up the paint around the doorbell as necessary.
How to Install a Doorbell Button: Wireless Doorbell
Once you have selected your new wireless doorbell button, you must make sure it is coded properly before it will work for your receiver.
Open up the doorbell button and look for a series of metal pins in two rows. Normally, they will have some black plastic blocks on them, but sometimes these aren’t in place on a new wireless doorbell button. Now open up the compartment on your receiver. You should see a similar arrangement of pins with black plastic blocks on them. Place the blocks on your new doorbell button so they match the blocks on your receiver. Then replace the receiver in the socket (if necessary) and push the button. If the button doesn’t work, it’s possible you had the two units misaligned when trying to match them up – it can be hard to tell which way to hold them – so try a mirror image on the new button. If it still doesn’t work, maybe the factory-installed battery isn’t working. Try a new battery. If it still isn’t working, the wireless doorbell button may be defective.
For Carlon door chimes, we have a complete article devoted to “changing the door chime privacy codes.”
Attaching a Wireless Doorbell Button
If you are installing a new wireless doorbell, attaching the wireless doorbell button to the wall can be a bit of a challenge. For many surfaces, such as wood, you can just put screws through the holes provided in the backing of the doorbell button. If you’re lucky, the screw holes on the back of the wireless doorbell button might even match those from an old wired doorbell button. Other times, you may have to put a block of wood in to allow you to screw the new doorbell where the old one was.
For many smooth surfaces, such as wood, aluminum, or vinyl siding, two-sided tape works well. Often this comes with the wireless doorbell button, but other times you may have to buy it separately.
Other surfaces can be a bit more challenging to attach the button to, such as stucco or brick. If the brick is relatively smooth (especially if it’s painted) you should try two-sided tape, but if it’s rough or has grooves in it, it’s probably not worth the effort.
One good solution in this case is poster putty, such as you might have used in your college dorm room or a rental property where you weren’t allowed to put holes in the wall. Some brands are better than others, but if you try a few, you’ll find one that really grips the rough surface and can hold your wireless doorbell button up quite well.
If you want a really secure hold for your wireless doorbell on these surfaces or if you don’t want to bother with the trial-and-error of poster putty, you can secure the doorbell with screws. Masonry screws are normally too large for the holes on the back of a wireless doorbell button, so you have to drill holes and place anchors. This is a bit more work, but on the plus side you won’t have to worry about your doorbell falling down every once in a while as tends to happen with double-sided tape or poster putty.
A Doorbell for All Seasons
Once you figure out how easy it can be to replace your doorbell button, you might decide that just one doorbell button is not enough. You could have different doorbells for different seasons, or maybe just one that you pull out for that special holiday party.
Okay, so most people aren’t that obsessed with their doorbells, but we’re just saying – if you are, it’s not that hard of a thing to do. Certainly easier than a new haircut – and if you decide you really don’t like it, you don’t have to wait for it grow back!
We hope you enjoyed this article and that it helped you figure out how to install your doorbell button. Please feel free to give us a call if you need any assistance or have any questions. We always recommend to reach out to a licensed contractor if you don’t have experience working with electrical installations.