Doorbell Defective

Problem: The doorbell doesn’t ring at all, works only occasionally, or rings continuously.

Background: In most all cases the doorbell will be powered with low voltage, fed from a transformer that converts 120-volt household current to the 6- to 8-volt range for older systems, or to a 12- to 14-volt range for newer systems. The low-voltage power supply wire is interrupted by the push button switch at the door. When the button is pushed, the power is fed through to the bell. Weather can corrode outdoor switch contacts, and vibration can loosen connections at the bell.

What to do: Possible causes for the failure include a faulty switch, wiring, transformer, or the bell itself. Chances are best that the switch may be bad, so start there. Unscrew the push button and check to see that the wires are making good contact under the 2 screws behind the switch. If the connections are good, touch a screwdriver between the 2 screws or remove the 2 wires and touch them together. (Normally low-voltage wiring does not carry enough cur rent to be dangerous except at the transformer.) If the doorbell rings, the problem is the pushbutton. Clean its terminals with sandpaper or electrical contact cleaner. If that doesn’t work, replace it; replacements are low cost and readily available.
If, when the wires are touched together, the bell doesn’t ring but the transformer hums, suspect a wiring defect or the bell itself. If the transformer doesn’t hum, suspect defective wiring or a burned-out transformer. Check all wires from the transformer to the push button and back to the bell, making sure connections are good. Inside some bells you may be able to clean the contact breaker points with fine sandpaper or emery cloth. The gong should touch the bell when the con tact points are closed; if not, bend the hammer slightly.

Special advice: If the transformer is suspected, be sure to turn off the master electrical switch before disconnecting because the wires feeding the transformer will be 120 volts. If you are not positive the transformer is bad, have it tested at an electrical supply dealer before buying a re placement.

Helpful hint: To assure your safety in case the transformer has gone bad and is not reducing power to low voltage, use a tester and touch its leads to the 2 screws on the push button switch. A 120-volt tester will not light up if the transformer is reducing the power to low voltage.

Cordless Phone Defective

Problem: Cordless phone doesn’t work at all, or has static, noise, or a weak signal.

Background: Cordless phones, which provide walk-about convenience, depend on radio signals to transmit between the handset and base unit, using batteries in the handset and an AC power supply to the base. They must be plugged into both a telephone jack and an electrical outlet. Some may have more than one channel which can be used to transmit. A cordless phone’s performance depends on several factors, such as the distance between the handset and base unit, the home’s building materials, and the weather. They work best when antennas are completely pulled out and, in a multilevel home, when used in a room on an upper floor.

What to do: If you just installed the phone and it doesn’t work, make sure the power cord is plugged in, that the cord between the wall jack and base unit is firmly connecte4, and that the antennas are pulled out. If the phone beeps when you press the “phone” button, or if the phone indicator light (on the handset) doesn’t come on when you press “phone,” the batteries may need re charging. If you recently replaced batteries, double-check to be sure they are correctly installed.
If you get static, noise, or a weak signal (even when you are close to the base), pull the antenna out fully and change channels if the phone has more than one channel. Noise can be caused by household appliances or other cordless phones. If possible, plug the base AC cord into another electrical outlet, which is not on the same circuit as other appliances. Also try moving the base to a higher location, such as a second or third floor.
If the phone doesn’t ring on in coming calls, make sure the ringer switch on the base is set to “on,” pull out the antenna, and move closer to the base or unplug some other phones; you may have too many phones to allow them all to ring audibly. If you hear other calls on the line, change channels if possible. Or disconnect the phone and connect a conventional phone. If you still hear other calls, the problem is likely in your wiring or the phone company’s lines. If you hear a lot of noise and none of the phone’s features work, try hanging up for a few seconds to make sure the handset and base are operating on the same channel and security code.

Special advice: If you walk out of range without pressing “off,” a cordless phone may be left off the hook. To hang it up properly, walk back into range, and periodically press “off” until the “phone” indicator light goes out. Instead of pressing the switch hook (as you would with a conventional phone) to signal phone company equipment for ser vices like call waiting, briefly press the “phone” button.

Helpful hint: Don’t depend on a cordless phone as the only phone in your home; it is best used as a second phone. A cordless phone will not operate in the event of a power failure, while conventional phones don’t rely on AC power and thus should work.

Bathtub Stopper Defective

Problem: The stopper in the tub doesn’t operate, doesn’t seal, or causes slow drainage.

Background: Two basic stopper mechanisms are found in tubs. One is the trip-lever type which uses a trip lever to open and close a brass stopper inside the tub’s drain. These have a strainer, instead of a stopper, at the drain opening. Another is a pop-up type, in which the lever is linked to the stopper at the drain opening.

What to do: Both types can be taken apart by removing the 2 screws on the decorative overflow plate, lifting the plate off, and then working the mechanism out through the over flow hole. For trip-lever types, clean the mechanism of debris and apply small amounts of grease on its moving parts. For pop-up types, clean off debris and check the condition of the 0-ring, which is positioned underneath the top lip of the stopper. If the 0-ring is worn or missing, replace it with a new one. If the pop-up stop per doesn’t work even with the new 0-ring, remove it and check to see if the linkage needs adjustment. Link age that is adjusted so that it is too long will keep the stopper from sealing properly.

Special advice: Keep in mind that accumulated hair on the linkage of a pop-up mechanism can cause slow drainage. When adjusting linkage on this type of mechanism, make small adjustments at any one time, by turning the threaded rod into the brass yoke, which connects to the trip lever.

Helpful hint: If the stopper mechanism seems to be unrepairable, or if you only need to replace components, take the entire mechanism when you go to the store so you will be sure to get the right parts.