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#57639 - 10/18/05 05:52 PM Tracing Circuits
RobbieD Offline

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 238
Loc: Canada
What do you guys find is the best ways to trace out a circuit in a finished ceiling? I'm tracing out a circuit that appears to have an open hot. I don't have a circuit tracer meter. Carpenters were renovating a bathroom and thats the vicinity where I think the problem is. I bet they covered a box or something. Any assistance on this matter is appreciated. Thanks.

Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades

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#57640 - 10/18/05 06:02 PM Re: Tracing Circuits
trollog Offline

Registered: 10/02/04
Posts: 273
Loc: San Diego California USA
A neon sign transformer with one lead on the secondary connected to the broken wire, and the other attached to a broomhandle, moved along the ceiling where the wire run is

just kidding...

#57641 - 10/18/05 06:03 PM Re: Tracing Circuits
ShockMe77 Offline

Registered: 06/11/05
Posts: 823
Loc: Rahway, New Jersey
I sometimes use a hammer.

#57642 - 10/18/05 07:14 PM Re: Tracing Circuits
RobbieD Offline

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 238
Loc: Canada
Thanks guys, I don't really want to do that much damage though. Any other expertise?

#57643 - 10/18/05 08:01 PM Re: Tracing Circuits
BobbyHo Offline

Registered: 07/27/05
Posts: 33
Loc: CT
If you can purchase a Harris TS 100 you can find the open in the wire. Make sure there is no power attached. If you know that your neutral and ground are good,measure those first (exp.50') then measure hot and neutral (exp 18') your open is 18' away. Now apply tone and follow the noise for 18'. Usually works but a little more accurate than an Estwing. TS 100 is roughly 300.00 but a nice tool. Also lets you know how much wire you have on a roll of romex or any other cable pair. Plus you look really really cool in front of your customer when you tell them the problem is 18 feet away.

#57644 - 10/18/05 08:47 PM Re: Tracing Circuits
lamplighter Offline

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 101
Loc: Clawson,Michigan,USA
I once had a landlord cover a whole panel in an office building with drywall and paint it up to match the other walls.
We were trying to I.D. a circuit and I intentionally tripped it with my handy "U" shaped piece of #12.
We looked through every room of that building twice and never found the panel.
I told the owner to call me when he found it and I never heard from him again.

#57645 - 10/18/05 09:19 PM Re: Tracing Circuits
DougW Offline

Registered: 06/08/03
Posts: 1083
Loc: North Chicago, IL
A tone thrower and tracer works too, but takes some time to get used to differentiating the sound through walls and actually discerning breakes & joints. Kind of like learning to listen to a SONAR echo.

It's what I used to find 4 hidden wall sconce boxes in my house.

#57646 - 10/18/05 09:29 PM Re: Tracing Circuits
Attic Rat Offline

Registered: 12/14/03
Posts: 530
Loc: Bergen Co.,N.J. USA
... Tone thrower is great,.. used one today,and found the problem wire,.. the whole kit only cost $90.00,...well worth it..
.."if it ain't fixed,don't break a Licensed Electrician"

#57647 - 10/18/05 10:03 PM Re: Tracing Circuits
Tesla Offline

Registered: 06/16/04
Posts: 1280
Loc: Sacramento, CA
Toners work wonders in Romex.

They should be in everyone's tool kit.

#57648 - 10/19/05 06:07 PM Re: Tracing Circuits
mxslick Offline

Registered: 10/24/04
Posts: 785
Loc: Atomic City, ID USA
Lamplighter wrote:

We were trying to I.D. a circuit and I intentionally tripped it with my handy "U" shaped piece of #12.

Take a look here:

You might want to rethink that practice. A lot of buildings today have a lot of short-circuit current available even at a common recept. You may find yourself on the wrong end of a very bad arc fault.

The buildings I work in (cinemas) are a prime example. Most of them have series-rated systems to try to limit fault current let-through.

And let's not forget the possibilty of encountering the famous FPE "no-trip" breaker!!

Work safe everybody!!
Stupid should be painful.

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