Just a note about those circuit-tracing doohickies. I had (but recently
lost, due to stupidity) the Harbor Freight "Circuit Detective" tracer,
which worked fairly well; it would reliably find the breaker for a
circuit most, but not all, of the time. (It also had an annoying design
flaw: if you left a battery in it, it would quickly drain because part
of the device was always "on" waiting for a press of the power button; I
corrected that by installing a small slide switch to disconnect the
Today, I used another tracer working on a guy's house. Don't remember
the brand, but this one was red (the HF one is blue), and it works a
*lot* better, mainly because it has a sensitivity adjustment (the HF one
has none). You back off the control until it stops beeping, which makes
it just sensitive enough to find the right breaker. I highly recommend it.
Who needs a junta or a dictatorship when you have a Congress
blowing Wall Street, using the media as a condom?
Sounds a lot safer than using the dead short method of
finding the breaker. I've always figured on a duplex outlet
you could usse two heating devices, and deliberately
overload. Two hair driers, for example. More than 20 amps,
sure to trip anything but a FPE breaker.
I finally bought me one of the HF cheap units a couple weeks ago, on
sale. And yesterday, I remembered to buy the screw-in plug adapter so I
could trace the ceiling lights that use normal-base bulbs. Guess I will
have to guess on the other ceiling fixtures, based on whatever else goes
Now to get off my ass and actually map out the panel here, after 5
years. Wish I had somebody else living here- even with the tone unit,
gonna be a LOT of trips up and down the stairs. A bright kid and a pair
of walkie-talkies would make it a quick job.
I have multiple ways available to set up the comm link. What I don't
have is the KID. Or spouse, or SO, or whatever. Siblings are hundreds of
miles away. There are friends at work I could tap for an URGENT project,
like tarping a roof after a storm, but this hardly falls in that
category. They all have families and houses of their own to deal with.
Living alone is a PITA sometimes.
One of the areas I work in besides electrical is the telecom and data
field. I use a telecom toner to trace de-energized electrical circuits
too. Since I'm used to working on my own, I've had to develop strategies
for doing what may be considered two man,....er person jobs. If the
breaker panel is downstairs, I will disconnect the wire from the breaker
and connect the tone generator there. That way, I can go around to the
various devices upstairs and map it out. There are other slower methods
but a tone finder only needs to touch most devices to detect the tone.
In the past, I've mentioned "The Jesus Method" for finding breakers
which is also a good way to test them. You take a couple of feet of
#12 stranded wire, attach it to a plug and with it plugged in, turn
your face or use a welding mask, touch the live wires together while
yelling JESUS during the blinding flash, you can then go find the
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