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Thread: tracing circuits

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    orange county, ca.

    Red face tracing circuits

    When trying to located an "open" where conduit rather than Romex is used, what is the best approach for diagnosis? Unlike Romex so many wires are contained in race-ways which causes me some "confusion" (ha). A tug from individual wires with another party listening for wire movement at other near-by locations I would think. Any guidance would be deeply appreciated. Thanx in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    LaLa Land, NW Ohio


    Sorry for any delay in response, we are not as active on this board anymore (see bottom of post for new board). Hope you resolved your issue, but just in case, here goes...

    Pull/tug wont work well. A non-contact voltage probe wont help you much either since it will pick up voltage from other wires nearby that run in parallel.

    I am not sure if a circuit breaker tracer will work(not used one), they run off of a similar concept, but they are also similar to a phone/network tracer which is made for this purpose. You plug a signal emitter into a outlet on the circuit and you find it at the panel with a non-contact probe. It depends on how it indicates, if it's a on/off light/tone it may false positive. If it's a audio tone that varies in intensity then it will work (you find the loudest tone, same as with the network/phone probe). Check the manual before you buy.

    The oldschool/tried and true method is to unplug/turn off everything on all the cirucits, turn all the breakers off then turn on a incandescent (no cfl/led) light, fan, or other simple non-electronic load on the circuit you want to identify, then use a ohmmeter to check resistance to ground/neutral on each circuit. You will find it quickly. You can test all the circuits before adding the load to eliminate any false positives/forgotten loads (like a doorbell transformer) Any voltage on any of these circuits will destroy your meter, do this carefully. If your voltmeter gives out phantom AC readings when there's no power, you may also notice that this reading is gone on the circuit with the load attached.
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