Quick Tip #1 – Circuits

In larger homes there may be a multitude of circuits throughout the house.  If you’re working with a buddy and you have time to spare, you can trace these circuits by turning on lights and lamps throughout the house, and have your buddy watch for which lights go off as you turn off breakers one at a time.  This method is tried and true, but time consuming, especially in older homes that may have more than one electrical panel.

In a particular house where I was trying to test some circuits, there were 3 electrical panels; two were adjoined, but a third was in a different part of the house.  The house was built in the late 1700’s, so it was a challenge to determine what circuits were fed from each panel.

Panel #3                        img_2431

So, I invested in a circuit tracer tool like this one from Southwire Tools to make my work much easier.


With this device, you plug the transmitter into an outlet and then use the receiver to sense which circuit breaker the transmitter is attached to.  Once you flip off the correct breaker, the receiver indicates that so you know the circuit is dead.

The kit I bought also had adapters for light sockets and 2-prong outlets, as well as a set of clips.   These help assure that the particular fixture is dead and not just the circuit.  Three things to remember when doing electrical work:

  • Always, consult a professional if you are not comfortable doing electrical work.
  • Always check the wiring you’re working on with a voltage indicator or multimeter before starting the work.
  • Always treat electrical wiring as if it were live.