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True Value DIY Mystery: The Case of The Confusing Doorbell

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My mom mentioned to me the other day that her life was getting too peaceful and undisturbed. She had long stretches of time uninterrupted by visitors or loud bells clanging through her house. And then we figured why…

Her doorbell was broken.

I pulled out my cape and magnifying glass, because surely we could fix this problem. A dead battery or loose wire must be the culprit! But what we found was even more mystifying.

The doorbell button on her front door was wireless…



(You can see the old wires tucked to the side behind the bracket, not attached to anything.)

…but the actual bell part of the door bell, was definitely not.



We thought long and hard about the problem, and then just said, “Hell with this, let’s get a new one.” (I know just the place… thanks, True Value.)


Ironically, the button was the exact same as the one on the door. No clue as to where the matching bell was though, so we decided to install a whole new unit.

From taking the old button off we found that the bracket was attached with two screws, and the cover just got snapped in place.


The bell was a bit trickier…

I’ve been zapped once by a phone line and half of my body went numb, so I’m understandably cautious when dealing with wires that may or may not be hot. We solved this by wrapping our had in an oven mit and sweater before cutting the wires (which were not hot, by the way.)


Mom prepped the new bell by putting in batteries and picking out her favorite tune.


I used the template to mark the holes for the new anchors, but I missed one key step…


I just assumed the top edge of the paper lined up with the top of the bell for screw placement. This was a poor assumption.


And then, even better, instead of getting a measuring tape and marking the correct location of the holes, apparently I thought I could eyeball it.


Yeah, go ahead and laugh. I don’t know what I was thinking, but the next thing you see on here will be me patching over that old outlet box.

So the doorbell works (annoyingly well) but the wall needs patching now. I’m not sure if we can call this one a win. Plus now I’m plagued by questions about what happened to the other doorbell? Did the previous owner take the bell without the button? What on earth do you do with a button-less doorbell?

I’m at a loss, people.

Disclaimer: I’m the least sane member of a group of people affectionately known as the True Value Blog Squad. They make cool stuff, I install a lot of plumbing fixtures. True value compensated me for my time as a Squad member, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still say whatever I want on this little corner of the internet. My mom will only say nice things about them now that she got a new doorbell and hole in her wall though.

Also, don’t forget to check out the most fun thing going on during this week of True Value goodness, and enter in the contest to win a $150 gift card for your local True Value Hardware store.

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  • Megan

    just curious… but why not flip the bell to hang vertically vs. horizontally? patch problem solved :)

  • Kristy

    We had the exact same thing at our house – but we had two on the front door and one on the back (only one of which was wired). Why any house would need three doorbells is beyond my comprehension. We removed them all and are just making people knock for the time being…

  • Irina@CanDoGal

    Sorry to laugh, but this sort of thing cracks me up, in a head shaking kind of way. A doorbell just for show, funny…
    I’m becoming a master in turning one project into many through a comedy of errors, so I can certainly sympathize with the doorbell misfit. Looks like an easy enough fix, though, even if it is aggravating to have to fix it in the first place.

  • andy

    We went through the same thing when we bought our house — there are 4 transformers in the basement for various vintage door bells, none of which work. The old push button was falling out of the frame (thanks ants!) I tried a spiffy new wireless set, but that lasted about 2 months. So we scrapped the whole concept and just have the original knocker, which still works 100 years after it was installed!

  • L

    You seem like a prime candidate for a proximity voltage detector. Just turn on your little pen, wave it around any wires, and it will beep and turn red if they’re live. And it’s only like $10. Totally worth it!

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