"beeper" Pen Beeps When It Shouldn't... - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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Old 11-16-2012, 01:49 PM   #1
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"beeper" pen beeps when it shouldn't...

....made by GB Instruments, it's called a 'Circuit Alert' tester, battery operated, about the size of a large ballpoint pen.

In any event, I am trying to figure out why this tester "beeps" when I touch a wire leading to a baseboard heater WHOSE 20 AMP CIRCUIT BREAKER HAS BEEN TURNED OFF???

I am thinking of changing a baseboard heater, from a 1500 W to a 1750 W; there is a 20 amp circuit breaker at the main panel, that I have switched off...but before starting the work, as a precaution, I tested the 12/2 wire with my tester pen - and the thing beeps like there's electricity running to the heater??? Huh?

Can anyone explain to me why my pen beeps when the circuit breaker at the panel is turned off? Thanks!


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Old 11-16-2012, 02:02 PM   #2
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Never use a pen type tester to ensure the power is off.
They can be set of by static, or the proximity of other wires close to the ones you are testing.
You need a meter to make sure the power is off.


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Old 11-16-2012, 05:01 PM   #3
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One possibility could be a multi branch circuit (?) where the shared neutral passes through the box being tested. One possibility.

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Old 11-16-2012, 08:25 PM   #4
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Non-contact voltage testers are commonly known to pros as 'death sticks'.

They will regularly beep when no voltage is present, and fail to beep when actual (and possibly lethal) voltage is indeed present.

I use a solenoid type voltage tester, commonly known as a 'wiggy'. This type of tester puts a slight load on the circuit and if used correctly it certainly will read actual voltage, but not phantom voltage. A basic standard digital multimeter will read actual voltage as well, but it can be tricked into reading voltage when none is present, because it doesn't load the circuit.

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Old 11-16-2012, 09:06 PM   #5
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Works on magnetism/inductance from the electrons flowing through the copper. Mine would go off when I got close to a line that I had switched off, due to it was close to another active circuit. The pen would do a quick beep, then wouldn't do it again.
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