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shockingly simple

January 26, 2007

tester.jpg This simple inductive tester is really helpful in debugging home wiring problems, and doubles as a quick safety check to ensure no power is present on a wire or fixture before putting tools to it.  The stock picture above shows the tool working (lights up and sounds a tone when it detects electricity) by being stuck into an outlet, but since it’s inductive and not contact triggered, you only have to get close with the tip.  This is handy, in that you can place the tip against a length of wire in a crawlspace or attic and see if it’s live, and use it to trace the flow of power from box to box as you trace down circuit faults.

I’m expunging the last of the new construction wiring glitches from my house, and this tool is fantastic.   Using it would have helped me avoid the embarrassing post last week where burned out light bulbs were the culprit in the end.  To redeem myself, I did use this tool to find and fix why my outside outlets weren’t working, and why the under house power vents were dead as well.  I was able to trace the trouble to an outlet in the garage where power was tapped to feed those fore mentioned downstream circuits.  The connections to some of the white neutrals weren’t tight and the wires had pulled out of the back of the receptacle.   It was live, and would power whatever was plugged into it, but failed to feed power elsewhere.

I have the office lights, and the front porch light yet to resolve, and suspect they may be caused by bad nuetral feeds as well since I have traced power through the switches that feed the fixtures.   Switches only switch the black or red “hot” wires, whereas the white neutrals are hardwired together in the same box as the switch and have to be traced back to the outlet box where that wire pair originates from. 

Anyway, for less than $15, this is a handy gizmo to put in your toolbox.

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