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Old 11-15-2010, 11:21 AM   #1
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Tracing wires from Circuit breaker to outlet/switch


I have opened up my walls and ceiling in the three bedrooms so that all wire is exposed. What is the best/easiest way to trace the lines? I have a Klein non contact electrical tester. "MY THOUGHT" was to kill one breaker at a time, then test lines to see which ones are dead and label with (orange/red/blue/green/etc electrical tape) We have the cbpanel upgraded and nothing is labeled? PLUS I want to replace all switches and outlets/ POSSIBLY wiring.

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Old 11-15-2010, 12:00 PM   #2
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Tracing wires from Circuit breaker to outlet/switch


I have a tool (I forget where I got it) that plugs into an outlet and, apparently, sends a signal through the powerline. The tool includes a second item...a type of probe/reciever...that can detect the signal from the first item and identify which breaker power the plug into which the first item was installed.

I suspect a tool like this, assuming you can find one where you live or online, in conjunction with your non-contact voltage probe, could help speed up your circuit breaker identification process.

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Old 11-15-2010, 01:18 PM   #3
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Tracing wires from Circuit breaker to outlet/switch


Plug in a radio. Turn it up loud. Go turn off breakers until you hear the radio go off.
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Old 11-15-2010, 01:24 PM   #4
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Tracing wires from Circuit breaker to outlet/switch


Quote:
Originally Posted by joed View Post
Plug in a radio. Turn it up loud. Go turn off breakers until you hear the radio go off.
Make sure the batteries are out of the radio!!!




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Old 11-15-2010, 02:01 PM   #5
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Tracing wires from Circuit breaker to outlet/switch


Gentlemen, Thank you! That is how I plan on getting started. But it looks like there are other outlets and switches that may be on the same breaker. For example there was an outlet in (what will be) my son's room and an outlet in (what will be) my office. But if I hadn't torn the walls downs wouldn't have known. What I am trying to do is identify EVERY outlet/switch on each breaker. Then label them in the cb panel.


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Old 11-15-2010, 02:08 PM   #6
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Tracing wires from Circuit breaker to outlet/switch


Yes. Unfortunately, I suspect it is a combination of tools and techniques that you will need to use. Or do as I do...don't bother performing a massive job at once. Wait until you need to know the circuit for a specific outlet or switch. Take your tool (radio with batteries, circuit identifier gizmo) and identify it, then write it down at that time.
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Old 11-15-2010, 02:18 PM   #7
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Tracing wires from Circuit breaker to outlet/switch


Radio work great for figuring out one outlet.
I do some property management: whenever I buy a home I male quick map of the home (not to scale).
I stand by the breaker box and have a friend go room by room and plug a tester into every outlet. I then flip switches until I get it right. Masking tape gets used to label every outlit and light in the whole house.
Then my help is free to go. I then get out the map and write numbers along the walls where the outlits are. I tape the map to the inside cover of the box and label the panels.
I also use a sharpie and mark every outlet cover, light figture,wire , etc as I work on them
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Old 11-15-2010, 06:36 PM   #8
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Tracing wires from Circuit breaker to outlet/switch


Electricians are pretty predictable and after you trace a couple circuits in your house you should know how the rest is wired. Just like plumbing expect that if two outlets are on opposite sides of the same wall they are probably fed by the same wire. Also expect outlets to be daisy chained not by what logically makes the most sense but by what uses the least ammount of wire.
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Old 11-16-2010, 05:38 AM   #9
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Tracing wires from Circuit breaker to outlet/switch


Chayce, that is exactly what it appears to be, least amount of wire!

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