Is there any easy way to find grounded wire?

Old 12-12-05, 03:13 PM
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Is there any easy way to find grounded wire?

Yesterday my husband changed all the outlet and light switches (not the plates, the actual outlets and switches) in our house for cosmetic reasons. The house was built in the late 30s and has the bulb fuses. When we went to turn to power back on, one fuse kept blowing. He figured out which outlets were on that circuit, and rechecked each one, and determined that somewhere a wire got grounded when he was pulling on it. Is there an EASY way to determine where this grounding is occurring? He spent several hours yesterday trying to figure out where it was, but with no luck, and he refuses to ask anyone for help because he is a typical male. I wouldn't mind so much, but the furnace is on the circuit that is out, so our house is very cold!! I thought maybe there was some gadget that you could run along the wall that would beep when it found the problem, but when I mentioned this to him, he looked at me like I was crazy. Any help or suggestions (other than calling a professional, which I will do if he doesn't fix it in a few days) you can give me so I can get some heat would be HUGELY appreciated!! Thanks!
Old 12-12-05, 03:59 PM
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No gadget I know of. If you know all of the receptacles that are on that circuit, begin at the receptacle that is closest to the fuse box. Disconnect it, and see if fuse still blows. Continue this process until you find a receptacle, that when fully connected (power in and onward power to the next device) blows the fuse. Then you know where the problem is. Unfortunately I have had similar problems with my head against the wall too
Old 12-12-05, 04:01 PM
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You must find this problem the old fashioned way. Open every receptacle on the circuit and look for the short. You can employ the divide and conquer strategy, which would be to divide the circuit in half, then in half again, etc until you find the problem. Of course, with fuses that can get expensive.

Now for the lecture. You and your husband should already know what is on each and every circuit in your house. You should have figured this out shortly after moving in. The information could save your life some day. Plus, it comes in real handy when something like this occurs.
Old 12-12-05, 04:03 PM
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There is no magic wand to find such a short. It may be possible to rig up a Radio Frequency injector/tester of some sort, but it may not work with a grounded wire.
Typically, the way to find a short is to use a meter. Unplug everything that might be on the circuit and make sure that the fuse is pulled. Set the meter on the x1 ohms (resistance) scale. Put the probes into the two slots of a dead oultet on the dead circuit. You should read 0 (or maybe 1) ohm. You may want to have somebody hold the probes in there and watch the meter. Pick an outlet where you think is the most likely location for the short. Unscrew and pull the outlet away from the box. If the meter now reads infinity (or very, very high), then the short may have occured when you pushed the wires and outlet into the box. Disconnect a black wire from the outlet. If the resistance is near zero, then there is a short on that side of the circuit. You would have to repeat this with each outlet until the meter reads infinity.

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