How to Replace an Old, Nasty Doorbell

DIY door bell replacement

If your doorbell has seen better days or you’d just like an updated version, it’s an easy fix. Perhaps you’ve gotten new door hardware and now your doorbell doesn’t match. Or maybe you’re putting your house on the market and want your home’s first impression to be a good one. Either way, it’s an easy process. Ladies, you can do this!!

Here’s what my old doorbell looked like. Besides the fact that it’s just worn out, I wanted one with a light. And I recently painted my front door, which made the bell-from-hell look even worse.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Like many builder-grade doorbells, mine was a non-recessed one–meaning it’s basically a box that sits on top of the siding, with the “guts” of the doorbell inside of it.

The new one I chose is a recessed one, that sits flat against the siding with the guts recessed into the wall. I picked this one up at Lowe’s.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

A couple of things to consider if you’re shopping for a replacement doorbell, are the location of your current screw holes, and the type of doorbell you currently have.

Lowe’s had a gorgeous, round, ornate doorbell that I fell in love with, but I knew by looking at it that it wouldn’t cover the screw holes I currently had. Chances are, new screw holes aren’t going to match up to old ones, and that’s ok as long as they’re covered by the doorbell itself. Since I didn’t want an empty screw hole on my vinyl siding next to my brand new doorbell, I had to go with my second choice. My point is, it’s a good idea to measure the distance between your current screw holes before you shop so that you can be sure the new doorbell will cover them.

As far as what type of doorbell to get, there are the two types I mentioned already. Most of the super-awesome, fancier ones seemed to have a recessed mount. Meaning that the “guts” of the doorbell sit back into the wall instead of on top of it. You can see through the packaging that this one is recessed. You can see the guts sticking out the back.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Either type of doorbell can be installed regardless of your current doorbell’s type. It just adds an extra step if you go from a non-recessed to a recessed one like I did. Here’s how.

Before you begin, find the breaker that goes to your doorbell and shut off the power. Next remove the screws that hold your doorbell onto your house. You should end up with something that looks like this.

 How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Loosen the screws that are holding the wires, and remove the wires from behind the screws. Now throw that nasty, old doorbell in the garbage.

Hold the new doorbell up to the hole in your house where the wire is coming out. The hole will probably be too small to accommodate your new guts (as is in my case in the next photo). If you already have a recessed doorbell, your new doorbell should fit into the existing hole. If it does, congratulations and skip this next step. Also, congrats if you chose a standard, non-recessed doorbell because that will work no matter what. If not, this is where the extra step comes in. Well worth it for the doorbell of your dreams in my opinion.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The hole has to be made bigger, so here’s what I used. My can’t-live-without-it Dremel moto-tool. If you don’t have one, buy one. I promise you’ll use it for all sorts of things.

Being very careful not to nick the wire, I whittled away the vinyl siding to a 5/8″ diameter hole. If you don’t have a moto-tool, you might be able to use a sharp utility knife to shave off some siding. However, when I replaced a doorbell at my last house, I also had to go through OSB that was underneath the siding. Not a big deal, as OSB was no match for my great and powerful Dremel, but you may have to resort to Swiss-cheesing the OSB with a small drill bit if you don’t have a moto-tool.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once I felt the hole was big enough, I loosened the screws on the new doorbell.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I then placed the wires around the new screws and tightened them. It doesn’t matter on a doorbell which wire goes on which screw. Honestly, you can’t screw this up.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I pushed the wires and guts into the wall.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I turned the breaker back on so I could test the doorbell before I went any further, just in case…And it worked! A doorbell never sounded so good.

Of course, as I expected, the new holes didn’t match up with the old ones.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I drilled two new holes and screwed the doorbell to the siding. Soooo much better!

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here she is at night.

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This is a simple thing to do to make your entry look nice. There were only three steps in the instructions, for heaven’s sake. You can do this!

How to Replace a Doorbell/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Changing out this doorbell took me between 15 and 20 minutes from start to finish, and was well worth the $15.00 it cost. The most time-consuming part was figuring out which breaker to shut off, which is a real treat if you’re doing this by yourself and have to go up and down a flight of stairs.

And just for kicks, here’s my freshly painted, sunny yellow front door with my new doorbell in tow. The door was white before and very, very dirty. Now my entry says, “Hello!”

Yellow Front Door/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Journeyman Painter and Certified Home Stager /Redesigner. Feel free to visit her website at to view more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

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