Device to trace home wiring

Old 10-31-18, 07:22 PM
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Device to trace home wiring

I could use a device to help me trace wiring in my house. Many tone generator items online are for coax, phone, or ethernet use. I saw a Klein circuit breaker device that will id the breaker with the associated outlet/lighting/clips at the circuit. What is normally used to trace complicated home wiring circuits? Ideally, I'd like to attach a tone to a wire and follow that wire back and see where it branches. I'm confused by the number of circuits using 12/3 and the branches for switches. Are there devices to make tracing wiring easier, or is it just why electricians get paid the big bux?
Old 10-31-18, 07:29 PM
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Most circuits just follow from one to the next device on the circuit A to B, B to C etc. You can turn off a breaker and see what goes dead. The last receptacle will just have one cable. Why are you trying to trace the circuits?
Old 11-01-18, 10:54 AM
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I don't find toners/tracers work very well in home wiring. Since most wiring is already connected, in the wall, and daisy chained, etc, it makes it difficult to find where one wire actually goes. They don't work reliably through the wall.

I find a continuity checker and voltmeter work much better. When I need to trace a complicated 3 or 4-way switch setup, I turn off the breaker, disconnect the switches, and use a continuity tester and long wire to figure out which cable goes where.
Old 11-01-18, 01:31 PM
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The process of elimination can narrow your search down to just a few wires. Using the above advice and a good sketch of your floor plan you should be able to follow the original installation. Search for s few wiring drawings so you can utilize their symbols and methods (and colors) and a toner will probably not be needed. All of my toner work has been low voltage and data.

Old 11-05-18, 04:26 PM
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This thread raises a common problem with home wiring. I reduced the problem years ago. Made an outline diagram showing every room in the house. Made a numbered copy for each breaker.

As it became known which switch, receptacle, light socket, etc was on a breaker noted that on numbered copy. As I learned the wiring on a circuit added that to the breaker numbered diagram.

Have a one page master copy showing all switches, receptacles, light sockets, etc. and breaker number for each. When something does not light, run, etc. use the master copy to quickly find that item and breaker supplying it. That is a lot easier that going through list of breakers on panel looking for “hall table lamp” receptacle. Keep folder with all the data at main breaker panel.

Last edited by doughess; 11-05-18 at 05:27 PM.
Old 11-05-18, 10:40 PM
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Just abandoning a circuit if you suspect the problem is in a wall is often the quickest and most practical. If it is in a junction box how the cable got there isn't important. just that is where you need to fix problem. If it is just identifying which wire i n box A comes in to box B as stated running a continuity check is easiest and can be done with the multimeter you should already have.

Last edited by ray2047; 11-05-18 at 11:01 PM.

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