Twinkle Twinkle Little aaaargh
August 22, 2017 11:58 AM   Subscribe

We just bought a house. Previous owners had small kids, and it turns out the doorbell plays Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, which is unacceptable for us. Chime unit doesn't look reprogrammable - can we buy a new chime unit and get it to work with the existing doorbell or do we need to buy a whole new set including new doorbell?

Yes, we are cranky adults who have lost all sense of whimsy. I would very much like a doorbell that makes a basic ding-dong sort of noise.

The doorbell itself looks fairly normal and is mounted outside the door. The chime unit is a solid block of plastic with holes in the front to let the sound out and a battery compartment on the back, but no obvious interface/interactability. I have no idea what brand it is.

Can we get a replacement chime unit with a different sound that will work with the same doorbell, or do we need to get a whole new doorbell at the same time? Cursory googling/amazon only throws up results for whole new sets (chime unit + doorbell), but it seems like a waste of a perfectly functional doorbell that is already mounted outside our house.

posted by terretu to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The doorbell button, especially if it's a wired doorbell, makes up a tiny part of the total cost of manufacture. It's a little bit of plastic, a bit of springy metal, and a couple of screw contacts. I'd be very surprised if there were any market for a chime unit with no button.

The one bit of information you don't give is whether it's a wired or wireless doorbell.

If it's wired, any button will work with any other (battery-powered) chime unit.
posted by pipeski at 12:02 PM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's wireless!
posted by terretu at 12:16 PM on August 22, 2017

Can you find a manufacturer and model number on it? I would be surprised if a wireless doorbell could only play that one song. Maybe there's hidden buttons/switches inside the battery compartment or something.
posted by exogenous at 12:17 PM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Some of these things actually have the chime selector in the button you push. Pry it open as if you needed to put in a new battery and look for a button inside.
posted by advicepig at 12:39 PM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Wireless doorbells always come with buttons. Think of it like any remote control... you don't want a new TV that doesn't come with its own new remote control.

Your doorbell probably does play a bunch of different songs, but if you want one that goes "ding dong!" you will probably need to get a new one.
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:08 PM on August 22, 2017

Oh god, that would be maddening! If it were me, Id have to tape over the doorbell or disconect it until a solution could be found.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 1:24 PM on August 22, 2017

If your wireless doorbell plays a song I am 99% sure that it CAN be made to play a different sound. My latest new doorbell plays like 12 different songs but we have it set to the standard ding-dong. I've replaced my (wired) doorbell twice and each time it was harder to find a doorbell that only had a few options than one with a bunch. The novelty song ones nearly all have many different public domain songs available, and often also a "ding," a "ding-dong," and the Westminster chime.

However, the way that you change the sound is often not obvious if you aren't looking at the instructions; for my most recent one, you have to take the cover off and there's a control on the inside near the circuit board thing that you push to cycle through the options until you find the one you like. Perhaps a little online search for doorbell manuals might yield a clue, or you could open any battery doors and look for hidden selector buttons or switches.

If this seems like too much hassle, go to the doorbell aisle at Home Depot and poke around until you find one you like. Install that one. It's relatively cheap and easy to do, especially if it's a wireless doorbell where you just have to put the battery on and affix it to the wall.
posted by oblique red at 2:24 PM on August 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

Last one of those I installed had (I can't remember what they are really called) small black plastic tabs that would connect freestanding metal pins - maybe 1/8" square - in the back of the doorbell itself. It came with instructions on how to make it play the different "chimes" by re-arranging the connections in those pins by moving the little blocks.
posted by rudd135 at 5:06 PM on August 22, 2017

Last one of those I installed had (I can't remember what they are really called) small black plastic tabs that would connect freestanding metal pins

A jumper!
posted by restless_nomad at 6:45 PM on August 22, 2017

yeah, just to jump in. i would bet a good amount of money it is re-programable. Mine uses jumpers, yours might not. I suggest finding the model number and googling " manual".
posted by pyro979 at 7:23 PM on August 22, 2017

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