Easier than what? :-)
The two easiest ways I can think of are:
(1) Buy a circuit tracer, about $35 at Lowe's or Home Depot. It's a two-part
device; one plugs into an outlet and places a radio-frequency signal on the
circuit, and the other is used to detect that signal at the breaker box (it
beeps when it's over the correct breaker).
(2) Plug a radio into an outlet, and turn it up loud. Go to the breaker panel
and start turning off breakers. When the radio goes off, you got the right
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
On Sat, 07 Oct 2006 14:34:51 GMT, firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug Miller)
How well do tracers work if one of the two wires feeding the outlet is
an open connection? Is the fact that two parts to the connection are
only a millmeter away enough for it to work.
Also, is there an easy way to know when a GFI outlet or breaker trips,
if it did so because of an overload or because of a ground fault?
(After reading everyone else's problems here with dead circuits, I
thought I had one myself. By the bathroom sink. I reset the GFI
breaker and it didnt' seem to help. I tried other outlets I thought
were on the GFI and some worked and some didn't. I reset it again and
it worked this time.)
Actually, I kind of like the idea.
It is quick and dirty.
My circuit breakers are 22 years old at least and my only worry is
that one of them will refuse to 'break' or take too long to break.
Not sure I like the idea of a superheated wire in my walls and attic.
I do that all the time. A short piece of 12 gauge bent where
I can put both ends into the outlet. Snaps the breaker
immediately with very little sparking. Since I have done this
over a hundred times without any problems, I think it may be
OK to continue to do it in the future.
I have all the tracers, locators, testers, etc., but that is
the fastest and most efficient method of locating the breaker
that controls whatever you are trying to work on. Works for
lights, too. Just bend the wire where it will touch the
center contact and the side of a light socket. Make sure that
you turn on the switch.
Knew an old fart electrician who kept a piece of 14 gage wire for just
this reason. Six inches or so, curved it like a horseshoe. Pounded the
two exposed ends flat. He'd shove it into the outlet, adn go see which
breaker tripped. It's not funny. And I don't have the courage to try
Christopher A. Young
You can\'t shout down a troll.
The radio is a very good way. An alternate to that would be a long
extension cord pluged into a lamp, with the lamp in easy sight.
If you suspect the circuit is one of just a few, turn those off one at a
If none of the circuits are marked, then turn exactly half off. If the
radio is still on, turn the first half back on and the last half off. Now
the radio should be on. Turn half of the "off" breakers back on. Keep
testing half of the untested breakers until you find it.
Then reset all your electric clocks.
Randy R. Cox
You may have to identify additional circuits later on. It would save
some work to identify all the breakers at one time. Turn one breaker
off and go around testing receptacles and lights to see what isn't
working. Repeat for the other breakers and keep a record. You still
need to reset the clocks afterward.
With all the replies, I was wondering if anyone was gonna post the
A note that may not be obvious too all is to make sure switch controlled
outlets are on first and make sure to test both sides of the outlet.
I've used radios and lamps with extension cords and I've also used a
vacuum cleaner since they make a lot of noise also.
For those who are punctilious and ambitious and efficient (unlike me),
it's probably a good idea to do every outlet and light in the house
while you are at it.
If you have a generator and want to go even further, you can determine
which leg each breaker is on by measuring the voltage between different
outlets. Then you can go to Home Depot and buy a package of
different-colored electrical tape and mark each outlet using a color
code for always on, always off, on only by itself, etc.
Good idea. That kind of reminds me of the search routines I used to use
about 3 lifes ago, in the mid-1970s when I wrote software.
On 7 Oct 2006 17:15:26 -0700, email@example.com wrote:
Understanding binary can save you a lot of work (too often people
would try one breaker at a time, rather than doing it by halves).
BTW, I've used such a technique with an EMF defector on holiday
standing at the panel listening for the radio, you can switch one at
a time and find it sooner.
What if the breaker was the first one? How would turning half off
If the breaker is one in the second half then you have already turned
off half the panel using both examples.
Understanding common sense can save you a lot to work too.
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