The Electrical Contractor Network

ECN Electrical Forum
Discussion Forums for Electricians, Inspectors and Related Professionals

Books, Tools and Test Equipment for Electrical and Construction Trades

Register Now!

Register Now!

We want your input!


2017 NEC and Related
2017 NEC
Now Available!

Recent Posts
International Wire Colour Codes
by Tjia1981
Yesterday at 09:09 PM
Son of Sparky
by HotLine1
10/20/16 07:43 PM
Speaking of Plugmold ...
by gfretwell
10/17/16 02:37 PM
Broken battery charger? Check for cobwebs!
by gfretwell
10/17/16 02:30 PM
230 or 345 kV transmission lines?
by annemarie1
10/12/16 01:23 PM
New in the Gallery:
12.5A through 0.75mm˛ flex (just out of curiosity)
Shout Box

Top Posters (30 Days)
gfretwell 11
HotLine1 6
renosteinke 6
ghost307 5
Potseal 4
Who's Online
1 registered (Tjia1981), 175 Guests and 4 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Topic Options
Rate This Topic
#8126 - 03/09/02 06:32 AM finding open wire in wall
donles Offline

Registered: 04/28/01
Posts: 82
Loc: Bridgeville, PA USA
Anyone know of an instrument that would allow me to trace a NM cable that's running within a house's exterior wall? Brick exterior/ drywall interior.
I was asked to find why three outdoor receptacles are not working. The house is 10 years old and the cheapie receptacles are backwired. I've gone through and looked at and replaced the connection method at all receptacles that I think could be feeding these three. I've looked in the breaker panels for loose connections or bad breakers.
The outlets are about 30' apart. On one end the box has two cables entering, one the opposite end, one cable enters, so I think I know how the circuit should flow. I'm beginning to think that these receptacles were never powered even though there appears to be a feed coming into one box or the cable has been cut while some work was being done and somehow nothing was done about it.
I seem to remember an instrument called a tick tracer for tracing cables in walls.
Could someone elaborate?

Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades

Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades
Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades
Arc Flash Clothing, Gloves, KneePads, Tool Belts, Pouches, Tool Carriers, etc. etc....

#8127 - 03/09/02 07:10 AM Re: finding open wire in wall
Electricmanscott Offline

Registered: 01/12/02
Posts: 1478
Loc: Holden, MA USA
Try X-ray vision glasses. They work well with the ladies also! Seriously I am not sure about such a tool. I have a Volt Tick that idebtifies voltage wihtout making contact. Perhaps there is a variation of this that will do what you want. I'm sure someone here will know.

#8128 - 03/09/02 07:33 AM Re: finding open wire in wall
golf junkie Offline

Registered: 04/22/01
Posts: 511
Loc: York, NE
We use our underground locator when faced with this situation.

Ours is made by progressive electronics, but any RF locator should work. Just hook it to the feed at the receptacle and trace back til the signal goes away. That point will be your break.

I assume that you have checked for the ground and neutral at the recep.??


#8129 - 03/09/02 03:12 PM Re: finding open wire in wall
Bill Addiss Offline

Registered: 10/07/00
Posts: 4196
Loc: NY, USA

First question I always ask is did they ever work? Did you check for GFCIs around the house? The feed may come from a GFCI protected outlet somewhere. Maybe something loosened up or was changed in one of these locations.

Good Luck,


#8130 - 03/09/02 08:37 PM Re: finding open wire in wall
wolfdog Offline

Registered: 10/24/01
Posts: 135
Loc: Dallas,TX
Amprobe makes a kit that will track live or dead wires. It aint cheap,but it does work.

Here is a description from W.W. Grainger


ECN Electrical Forums - sponsored by Electrical Contractor Network - Electrical and Code Related Discussion for Electrical Contractors, Electricians, Inspectors, Instructors, Engineers and other related Professionals