How to Avoid Damaging Electrical Cables Inside Walls
Can wire locators accurately show where electrical wires are inside a wall? Methods of Home Electrical Circuit Wiring, Electric Wiring Inside Walls, How To Locate Electric Wires, Home Wiring Techniques.
Installing Electrical Wiring
Electrical Question: Can electrical wire testers and wire locators accurately show where electrical wires are inside a wall?
- I wanted to find out if I can safely drill a wall not far from the Main panel in the apartment.
- Drilling would occur on the same level as a panel is, same wall, opposite side, about 2 ft away.
- I have no idea how the conductors are run inside the wall to and from the panel and don’t want to hit one.
- Any suggestions? Should I forget this idea?
- Can the electrical wire locators really accurately determine whether there are conductors in that spot?
Thank you very much in advance.
This electrical wiring question came from: Slava, a Homeowner from Brooklyn, New York.
Electrical Question #2:
- We bought our 1988 house last year and just recently looked into doing some minor improvements to the downstairs bathroom. While pulling off the wallpaper and removing the counter we discovered there was a thick exposed wire protruding from the corner. It looks like maybe they used a wire that wasn’t long enough and dry walled around it as well as cut out a piece of the vanity corner to make a space for it. I’m not sure what to do about it vs. just paint the vanity and get a new top so that I don’t have to deal with the issue. Any advice?
This electrical wiring question came from Sue in West Linn, Oregon
Thank you for your electrical wiring questions.
Home Electrical Wiring Techniques
Application: Installing Additional Electrical Wiring.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrician.
Tools Required: Electricians Pouch of Hand Tools for Rough-In Wiring, Electric Drill and Auger Bits and Extension Cord.
Estimated Time: Depends on the extent of the project, the type of construction and available access to the project area.
Precaution: Any existing wiring in the immediate area that may interfere with the installation should be identified and turned OFF and Tagged.
Notice: Installing additional electrical wiring should be done with a permit and be inspected.
Basic Fundamentals of Home Electrical Wiring
Obtaining knowledge before starting a home electrical wiring project is very wise. The information below will describe how to avoid hitting an electrical wire and causing damage.
Basic Methods of Home Electrical Circuit Wiring
Understanding The Path Of Electrical Cables as they have been installed inside the building structure.
- Home Wiring Techniques
- Electrical circuit wiring is generally run out to the top of a panel or the bottom and often both.
- The Electric Panel
- The electrical panel can be opened by an electrician to visually see which way the cables are headed, however you still don’t know exactly what is happening inside the wall.
- Electric Wiring Inside Walls
- Most walls have outlets and switches so there will be wiring that is looping these devices together running from side to side, and up or down, it all depends on the layout of the dwelling.
- Exposing Electrical Wiring
- To avoid damaging electrical cables one option would be to open the wall up.
- If one is careful the removal of a section of sheet rock can be done relatively easy, especially if you locate the nails or screws and remove them allowing the section of sheet rock to be removed in one piece thereby allowing you to reused the original piece.
- Wiring in Apartments and Rental Homes
- You may want to consult the manager of the apartment complex and get permission before proceeding with your proposed project.
- How To Locate Electric Wires
- There are cable locators that do a fine job, however you must remember that they may only be sensing cables that are energized and may not be locating a cable used for switching a light fixture on.
- If you are drilling a hole simply for the purpose of installing a wall anchor, then just be sure to drill the hole the depth of the sheet rock, or better yet just us a pick to make the hole.
- Sheet rock is relatively soft and easy to penetrate which makes it easy to insert molly bolts or other wall anchors for hanging pictures or other wall decorations.
The NEC addresses UnSupported Cables inside Existing Walls
RE: NEC 334.30 section (B)
- (B) Unsupported Cables.
The nonmetallic-sheathed cable shall be permitted to be unsupported where the cable:
- (1) Is fished between wired access points through concealed spaces in finished buildings or structures and supporting is impracticable.
- (2) Is not more than 4 and one half feet from the last point of cable support to the point of connection to a light fixture, luminaire or other piece of electrical equipment and the cable and point of connection are within an accessible ceiling.
More about Home Electric Wiring
- House Wiring Circuits and Circuit Breakers
- This article looks at common 120 volt and 240 volt house wiring circuits and the circuit breakers that are installed identifying the types and amperage sizes used in most homes.
- Home Electrical Safety Guidelines
- This electrical safety advisory is to help you understand that electrical systems are to be treated with utmost respect and every provision must me made to assess each task before proceeding to perform any work.
More about Electrical Safety Guidelines
- Electrical Codes for Home Wiring
- Electrician Explains Home Electrical Wiring Codes including AFCI Circuit, Junction Boxes, Electrical Circuits, Codes for Outlets, GFCI Codes, Electrical Grounding, Electrical Projects, Electrical Service Panels, Underground Electrical, House Wiring, Lighting Codes, Codes for Smoke Detectors.
More about Electrical Codes For Home Wiring
The following may also be helpful for you:
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.
The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.
Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..
The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.
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