Need help with doorbel problem

Just today my doorbell started ringing by itself and/or buzzing instead of chiming. This is a wired unit using a transformer (I presume it is in my crawlspace somewhere).
I disconnected the one and only outdoor button and made sure that the 2 wires were not touching each other. Also, the insulation looks good as far as I can see (which is not much).
The doorbell still rings by itself or buzzes.
I disconnected the 2 wires at the bell unit on the wall and measured 12.4 V AC across them. I also think that there is continuity, as the I hear an intermittent beeping sound when I switch the meter to continuity mode. I guess it beeps intermittently instead of a solid sound because it is AC??
When I reconnect the 2 wires to the bell unit on the wall (outdoor wires still disconnected and not touching), I can make the doorbell ring. If I tighten the screws well, I get a constant buzz.
It seems that somehow I have a closed circuit. There has been no tinkering with wires that might have caused this, unless I have mice in the crawlspace.
Is this a bell unit, transformer or wire problem? Any suggestions about what I should do next?
Thanks.
Vince
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You are correct, you have a closed circuit on the switch leg. The two wires to the button are in contact with each other somewhere along their length and you must find that connection and repair it or replace that piece of wire

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Easier solution. My doorbell broke 23 years ago. I disconnected it. Friends come to the family room door. Anyone that actually rings the front bell is not someone I want to see anyway.
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In alt.home.repair on Fri, 12 Aug 2005 21:22:29 -0400 "Vince"

You really shouldn't try to measure continuity across 12 volts. There is more than continuity. There are 12 volts. With only 12 volts and the fact that you don't mention it, you probably haven't damaged your meter, but you very well might have**.
In fact, you should normally measure voltage before trying to measure continuity. If there is any, there is no point to measuring continuity. Because there is something generating voltage in between them.
**A long time ago I had a Lafayette FET VOM, and I measured something when the meter was Off. Turned out that the switch contacts were touching something they shouldn't have been, some printed circuit trace that was just passing by, in the off position, and the voltage there was didn't go through any resistors and burned out some major part of the meter. I had a hard time convincing Lafayette though. That and one other incident make me not too surprised they went out of business.

I think you would have found before, that if you just hold the doorbell button down, after the initial ring it will buzz rather than ring.

I thought mice had ruined the wiring to the ceiling fixture and the range hood. Couldn't account for *two* bad circuits any other way. Then, when I wasn't depressed anymore, I figured out that *I* had disconnected the range hood in my attempt to repair the dining room fixture. And the problem with that was at the rivets in the light bulb socket. I didn't test for that for quite a while and no wonder I didnt' understand my voltage readings.
But you're right, it might be mice.
Have you nailed anything into a wall lately? Or fired a gun into one?

Wiring. To the button. When you find the transformer, you can trace the wire to the button looking for staples; or you can run a new wire.
You could first just cut the wire about a foot or 2 from the place where the wire from the button next to the door frame comes out of the wall in the crawl space below. If that stops the buzzing, the problem is between there and the button.
If it doesn't, the problem is between the transformer and the cut. With. With a foot or two of wire dangling, there will be plenty to splice to.
If you have to replace the wire that goes up to the button, are they always stapled in place? I'd be afraid to tug for fear I'd pull out what was showing at the button. You could disconnect the button, solder the new wire to the old wire at the button, go down to the crawlspace and pull the new wire through. You might??? be able to free it from staples, if any, by tugging, pretty darn hard maybe. Or maybe it is not stapled at all??? (So what is shorting it out?)
I don't know how big those holes are, if you can't get the original wire out, but you might be able to stand in the crawlspace and push 2-conductor wire up the hole and half someone upstairs tell you when they see it, and retrieve it with a screwdriver or a "grabber".
A metal snake might work for running the wire, but I've had success lately with plastic ties. The ones that form a P before you cinch them down. I have some that are 5 feet long, enough to go from doorbell button level to the basement.
If you only need a few, find advertising posters that have been illegally tied to telelphone poles and light polls and cut some of them off. Drill a little hole at each end.
Tearing these down makes the n'hood look a lot better, and you get to keep the various parts for projects.
(If you only have a few, get them now, because they breed. They seem less likely to be put up where there are none. 3 or 4 of my neighbors** and I, **most of whom I have never met, have torn down hundreds in about a 4 square mile area, and now they've pretty much stopped trying to put up new ones.

Meirman -- If emailing, please let me know whether or not you are posting the same letter. Change domain to erols.com, if necessary.
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