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I need to find my doorbell transformer in order to change it for a more powerfull one (ring pro doorbell). I have opened the chime and i can see the transformer wire going in my basement, i did follow it using a tone device and it goes inside of a finished room... I have no idea after if it goes back up or in the attic. Attic is hardly accessible, in summer it's worse. It is hard to follow after that even with the tone because all cables related to that breaker will ring too. I have check inside the light fixtures, can it be in the light switch? Also, my chime says : "use with transformer 16V 10VA", i must change the chime too since my new one is 16V 30VA?

Update :

I have looked inside and outside of the electrical panel. I have also a utility room with the ceiling not finished and i cannot see anywhere my cable so it is getting transformed somewhere before. I have seen a transformer and some of them can be attached to the outside of a switch box/electrical box. The basement got a suspended ceiling so i can just cut the wire near a electrical box and wire the new transformer there but it would trigger me to know there is a dead cable with electricity somewhere. Also, does the chime can handle the new transformer? Even if the VA is higher?

Update :

I ended up cutting the cable near an outlet in the basement drop-ceiling. I wired the new transformer and it is working. My quest following the cables always ended up going into a finished ceiling so i could not find the old transformer. I don't like that but one day i will find the old one and remove it, i will use an endoscope camera with a led light to help me. Thanks everyone.

  • They're usually mounted to the side of the service panel (or even inside). Have you looked there? – isherwood Jun 11 at 15:13
  • "Randomly stuck in the attic somewhere" seems to be the norm in Texas. Larger transformer won't matter to the doorbell. Also, have you ever seen a doorbell transformer to know what you're looking for? I ask because there's no way it would fit in a box with a light switch. – JPhi1618 Jun 11 at 15:22
  • "Finished room" was this an unfinished basement and a room got finished and the transformer was covered up? Maybe you should consider putting in a new transformer and connecting to a box that's not hidden/covered. You can splice in to the existing transformer wires. Ultimately though I would want to find the existing transformer and disconnect it from the power source even if it is covered and can't be removed. – Platinum Goose Jun 11 at 16:05
  • I have looked inside and outside of the electrical panel. I have also a utility room with the ceiling not finished and i cannot see anywhere my cable so it is getting transformed somewhere before. I have seen a transformer and some of them can be attached to the outside of a switch box/electrical box. The basement got a suspended ceiling so i can just cut the wire near a electrical box and wire the new transformer there but it would trigger me to know there is a dead cable with electricity somewhere. Also, does the chime can handle the new transformer? Even if the VA is higher? – hugo411 Jun 11 at 17:37
  • I guess this is somewhere in the attic but this is a pain to go and i don't understand why it would go down the basement and come back all the way up the attic. It could have gone directly to the attic – hugo411 Jun 11 at 17:40
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Binary Search

  • Turn off half your circuit breakers.
  • If the doorbell still works, turn the breakers back on and turn the other half off
  • Repeat by turning half of the breakers that are off back on and see if the doorbell works.
  • Repeat until you have found the circuit that powers the doorbell.

Now you can trace from the circuit breaker outward instead of the reverse direction. Even though one circuit may power many lights, receptacles or other devices, often tracing a known mains circuit will be easier than tracing the doorbell wires because the doorbell wiring can be a pair of very small wires "anywhere", while the circuit wiring (until the transformer) most be in conduit or NM (Romex) cable with a lot of rules about where/how it can be routed.

  • Thanks, yes i know which breaker it is and it power up 2 rooms (one in the basement and one on the main floor, one over the other). The transformer wire i found is going in the one from the basement but i can't see after. You're right, ill check in the reverse direction but it will split into many outlet so it will be hard and those 2 rooms are finished so what do i check? I remove all plugs/lights/switchs? – hugo411 Jun 11 at 18:39
  • It should be accessible. So that means either inside a box - which is unlikely because a typical junction box won't have room for a transformer together with a switch or receptacles. Or it means on the outside of a box (with wires going into the box to connect to 120V AC), but that box would need to be accessible on the outside - e.g., unfinished area or at most behind a drop-ceiling, but not inside a finished wall or ceiling. – manassehkatz Jun 11 at 18:48
  • Ok ill try to follow the reverse way and see maybe it is somewhere inside the drop-ceilling. – hugo411 Jun 11 at 18:54
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It's OK (desirable, actually) if the new transformer's VA is higher. The transformer VA rating indicates how much load the transformer can safely support. The doorbell VA rating indicates how large the doorbell load may be. It's important for the voltages to match and for the VA rating of the transformer to be higher than the VA rating of the loads (the sum of the chime and the Ring device). This is analagous to payload capacity of a vehicle: the actual load should not exceed the carrying capacity.

Since tracing the low-voltage doorbell wire back to the transformer isn't working, maybe you can work the other direction. Turn off all circuits in the building except the one that powers the doorbell. If the circuit isn't marked, turn off circuits one at a time until the doorbell doesn't work anymore.

With the supply circuit identified, and with only that circuit powered, you could trace that circuit with a the tone pickup tool you've been using, a non-contact voltage tester, the live wire warning in a stud finder tool, etc. "In theory" by inspecting every connection along that circuit's path you'd eventually find a pair of light-gauge stranded wires spliced into the circuit somewhere. Those would be the leads of the existing bell transformer.

Even if the transformer is mounted somewhere awful, like on the back side of a steel outlet or light junction box behind a finished wall or ceiling, at least its mains power junction should be accessible and therefore disconnectable.

  • Ok thanks, ill do that, so i can open up my outlet/light/switch and see inside if there is a light gauge connection. Also, i am using this tone tool : amazon.ca/Sperry-ET64220-Tracker-Wire-Tracer/dp/B00279JLBQ/… I can wire the transformer cable on the device (from the chime) and follow the circuit through the walls. I always do that without the breaker on. – hugo411 Jun 11 at 18:48
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my transformer was behind the chime on my wall.

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