• Archives

  • Categories:

Our doorbell

It’s hard to believe we moved into this house nearly five years ago. In some ways, it feels like we’re still settling in, but I’m sure part of that has to do with how much our lives have changed since moving here and having kids. Plus, we’re still discovering new things about the house, like our doorbell.

The doorbell worked intermittently when we moved in, and as the months progressed it stopped working entirely. Given our workload and focus on new family, it ended up near the bottom of our list of priorities, and with babies in the house, the lack of a doorbell was actually a feature most of the time. Still, it was a little annoying when people would stop by, since the front door is far from where we spend most of our time so knocking is rarely effective. Halloween this year changed my priorities. These past two years were pandemic Halloweens where we just put candies out front on a decorated table, but this year we were back to answering our door. A working doorbell would be incredibly useful, so I grabbed MJ and we set about debugging it a few weeks ago.

We honestly thought it would be a very involved project. It was not. I even questioned the value of writing this post at all for fear of getting hopes up about this being a deeply technical, fascinating story. It’s not. But it was still pretty fun to dig into, especially since I knew nothing about how doorbells actually worked.

The actual chimes live above the stairs, which is tricky to get to, so we decided to start at the button. Plus, figuring out if there was power even going to the button seemed like a valuable use of our time. Good news: power was good!

So up to the chimes we went. Taking off the cover led us to discover a much more interesting device than we expected. Manufactured in 1994, it appears to be a an Emerson Rittenhouse Model C8846R 8-Note Electronic Door Chime. It’s fully electronic, and lo! There’s a battery in there! Maybe that’s all it will take to “fix” it? I swapped out the battery and… it kind of worked. Huh.

That’s when I dropped the model number into Google and discovered this glorious YouTube video: Servicing an Emerson Rittenhouse Model C8846R 8-Note Electronic Door Chime Base. As the video shares, there are no service manuals, wiring diagrams, or any technical information that can be found online about this, so the video was all I had! Thankfully, the solution was hilariously simple. About halfway through the video he does a close-up of the board and it clearly says, “Use with two 9 volt batteries”. Two! There are TWO batteries inside this thing!

So I climbed back up to the chimes and dug around behind them until I fished out the other battery so I could replace it. That was the solution all along!

Our 28-year old doorbell lives once again, just in time for Halloween. In the couple of days it took for us to ferret out the issue, MJ did a bit of research into what we’ll eventually replace it with that can be tied into our overall home automation strategy. But I can wait, this old doorbell and I are pals now.