The Quantum Pontiff

Doorbell Telephone

Yesterday I started to trace the wiring for our doorbells and figure out why they aren’t working (they haven’t worked since we moved in.) So I’m happily tracing away (a bit difficult since part of the basement has been finished and hence obstructs me figuring out where the wires are going) and then, whah, why the heck does the doorbell wiring appear to be connected to the telephone system? Anyone seen something like this before or am I just going crazy? (Okay we know the answer to the last one.)

Comments

  1. #1 peter
    July 28, 2008

    at a rough guess, as a safety feature. As I understand it, the phone system usually uses a separate power source, in order that the phone works when everything else is blacked out.

    I don’t think doorbells are mandated to be wired as such for emergency services, but it’s a neat idea… sort of like why all exterior doors are supposed to open inwards, so as to make it easier for them to be knocked down in an ‘emergency.’

    another thought depends on whether or not you have a remote unlock on your door the way apartments sometimes do, but that seemed less likely.

  2. #2 Dave Bacon
    July 28, 2008

    Yeah, that thought crossed my mind. Interesting because we don’t have a land line, so the safety feature isn’t really a safety feature, but a bug!

  3. #3 Kevin
    July 28, 2008

    Wireless doorbells systems can be had for less than $20—The time and trouble of trying to trace down old door bell wiring may be more effort than it is worth

    just food for thought

  4. #4 Dave Bacon
    July 28, 2008

    Kevin: Yeah I’ve considered that. But I need to search for some which don’t have big ugly doorbells. They all seem to be these block white buttons that are designed to stick out from the wall and not be embedded.

  5. #5 mick
    July 28, 2008

    It isn’t set up for an intercom is it?

  6. #6 Chris Granade
    July 28, 2008

    What’s the Ringer Equivalence Number on a doorbell, anyway? According to Wikipedia’s article on RENs, most telephone systems can’t handle a load of greater than 5 REN, so a doorbell could cause significant problems if you have a big house.

  7. #7 JohnQPublic
    July 28, 2008

    Now you can stop yelling at those phantom kids you thought were ringing your doorbell and running off. (Which oddly always occurred when someone called.)

  8. #8 Travis
    July 28, 2008

    It may appear to be wired into the phone system just to take advantage of the unused pairs. Typical phone cables have at least four wires, but only two are used per line (for a single line, usually the middle two, red and green).

  9. #9 Jeff Watson
    July 28, 2008

    The doorbell at my beach shack hasn’t worked well for years, and I replaced it with 6 pound brass bell, hanging from a post. One can here it ring all over the neighborhood(much to the chagrin of all my McMansion Snob Neighbors).

    Jeff

  10. #10 Ian Durham
    July 29, 2008

    sort of like why all exterior doors are supposed to open inwards

    They are? Here in the northeast where it gets might cold, everyone (well, almost everyone) has a storm/screen door in addition to the primary door and the latter always opens outward.

    Wireless doorbells systems can be had for less than $20

    Yeah, but they usually suck. I’ve gone through a bunch and they all suck.

    6 pound brass bell, hanging from a post

    Awesome idea.

  11. #11 Eric Lund
    July 29, 2008

    Here in the northeast where it gets might cold, everyone (well, almost everyone) has a storm/screen door in addition to the primary door and the latter always opens outward.

    But the screen/storm door generally isn’t locked, and if it is the lock is flimsy and easily forced. The primary door frequently is locked, usually with a sturdier lock. I know that that isn’t always true in northern New England, where Ian and I live, but I grew up in Miami, so my default is to lock my doors.

  12. #12 Charon
    July 29, 2008

    I always assumed exterior doors opened inward so the hinge was on the inside. If they opened outward, the hinge would be outside and could be easily destroyed, letting people in. I’m dubious they design doors to be easy to kick in. (Largely academic, since windows are much more easily broken.)

  13. #13 Lisa
    July 30, 2008

    My parent’s solved the problem of not being able to connect the door bell wiring in an old house by hanging a giant school /church bell from the rafters in the roof and attaching a rope that dropped down to the front door. As the person who lived in the attic room, let me say that it was a better idea on paper than in execution.