The Easiest Way to Trace Out Wiring for an Electrical Outlet

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Cutting into a wall without knowing exactly where hidden electrical wires are running can be dangerous. Taking the precautions to know exactly where the electrical wires run in a wall is critical before you start a remodeling project or addition. Using a tone generator will help you identify the exact location of each electrical wire that is running to or from a specific outlet. The tone generator will emit a sound as you move across the wires behind the wall, allowing you to mark those locations and proceed with awareness.

Things You'll Need

  • Electrical tone generator
  • Pen or pencil
  • Locate the main service panel for the house. Verify that all circuit breakers are in the "On" position.

  • Plug the transmitter for the tone generator into the outlet that will be traced. The transmitter will automatically turn on, and you will hear a beeping sound and see a light flashing.

  • Hold the receiver up to the transmitter and press the button to sync the two together. The tone will quiet and the light will stop flashing once they are in sync.

  • Slowly move the receiver along the wall. As the receiver approaches a wire running to the outlet, the unit will beep and flash. The sound will become louder and the light will flash quicker as you get closer. Once you are at the closest point, the sound will become steady and the light will become solid, indicating you are directly over the wire.

  • Mark the placement of the wiring with the pen or pencil. Repeat the process in step 4 until you locate the path of all of the wires behind the wall, and mark each path.

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