This guide for installing intercoms in apartment buildings assumes that you either have an existing wired intercom system that requires repair or that you want to wire your building for a simple, no-frills intercom providing two-way communication and the ability to "buzz" visitors in. While we offer more advanced intercoms that could replace these basic systems, it's important to note that they come with higher costs and may involve monthly fees, which we won't cover in this guide.
Installing a New Wired Apartment System
For a new system, you can use the same components as you would for repairing an old one, assuming your old system uses standard components. The primary components of an apartment entry system include a door entry panel, an electric door strike, an amplifier, and apartment stations. Wires need to be run to each apartment. For the voice component of apartment stations, it's recommended to use 22-gauge twisted pair wiring. The twist in the wires helps cancel out any noise that might be picked up. Avoid running cables parallel to electrical wiring or wiring with background music, and keep them away from fluorescent lighting or other electrical equipment.
Apartment Intercoms That Need Repair
Older wired apartment intercom stations are available in 3-wire, 4-wire, and 5-wire configurations, with 4-wire being the most common. Some systems also used 6-wire, but these are less common. To identify your system, remove a station from the wall and count the number of screw terminals or connections with wires attached on the back. The cable running to the station may have more wires, but if unused, they don't count.
To troubleshoot and get your system working again:
- If the problem is isolated to one or two apartments, consider replacing the apartment stations after inspecting the wires.
- If wires are okay, test for a defective station by swapping it with a working one. Replace the station if the problem follows.
- If the issue persists, inspect the entry door station, checking connections and the button. Replace the door station or amplifier if necessary.
- If the entire system is dead, check the power supply, test the outlet, and use a voltage meter to check the output power. Replace the power supply if needed.
- If the power supply is working, the problem may be with the amplifier unit. These are not repairable, but replacement amps are available.
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