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How to trace live romex and buried boxes behind drywall-boxes buried!

How to trace live romex and buried boxes behind drywall-boxes buried!

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  #1  
Old 06-23-14, 10:30 PM
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How to trace live romex and buried boxes behind drywall-boxes buried!

I'm renovating a kitchen and other parts of a house and my electrician (who is a licensed master electrician but is apparently clueless when something gets away from codes and "normal" work for electricians, I'll explain more about that later) ran a bunch of new wiring for the range (gas range but just a regular outlet for the clock and stuff) the dishwasher, garbage disposal and over the range microwave and had them ending at the new boxes in the existing walls. We had changed pretty much the whole layout for the kitchen, so that's way we needed new spots for all of these outlets. Then I had some drywallers who had worked on another project for me and did a great job come in and we decided to just go right over the old drywall, its a 1950's house and the walls were rather beat up plus we had to tear into them all over the place for the new wiring, some new plumbing, etc. so these guys agreed it would take forever to attempt to patch all the various holes and still might not look right. Looking back, we could've just demo'd all the existing drywall but these guys had been doing drywall for years and said lets just go over the old stuff.

They did a good job with the drywall work, they'd done it before and just plotted out where the studs were and put up the new stuff in record time but they somehow managed to cover all these outlet boxes! It blows my mind but they did it! Now, my electrician, who's just starting out on his own and is a licensed master electrician (you can't pull permits here if you're not and he's pulled permits on several places for me now) is perplexed as to how he's going to figure out where these boxes are exactly without just starting to cut away and look for them! He told me that on the phone this afternoon while I was somewhere else. I thought about it for a bit and called him back and said, don't they make the stud sensors that also alert you to live wiring inside of walls? He apparently hadn't thought of that but I know they do and I'm wondering if there are any other devices made for this purpose of if I'm fine with just one of these stud sensors that alerts to live wiring? I'm meeting him there tomorrow to figure this all out so I need any advice soon.

For anyone wondering how in the world I was able to find a master electrician who didn't know this stuff, I've ran into a couple of issues like this with him, he's done a few projects for me. He did his education and on the job training like they all have to for however many years and just struck out on his own now. If its anything to do with codes and what size wire you need for whatever and how many feet from something you need an outlet, etc all that stuff he knows 100%, but when you throw something like this that's maybe not in the textbook, like what do you do when the drywall guy buries your boxes, things seem to get murky fast!

So, I'm just wondering should I just get one of those stud sensors or is there another device that would be easier or more accurate for this? Thanks!
 
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  #2  
Old 06-24-14, 01:14 AM
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A stud sensor with AC detector will show AC if the circuit is powered up. You said new circuits..... they probably aren't live yet.

You could use a tone generator and tracer wand.

Metal boxes can be found with a metal detector.

I had that happen in a renovation house I was working on. I told the homeowner to get the rock guys back or pay me to find them. He paid me. The wiring was all live, in romex and plastic boxes. I used the tracer wand to detect the AC hum from the wiring.

You can probably use a small portable AM radio tuned between stations. It will pick up the noise off the wiring.
 
  #3  
Old 06-24-14, 03:44 AM
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The drywallers need to come back and correct this. I cant see how you seem to be satisfied with their work but yet they covered the boxes. They are hacks. As most drywallers are. Its on them to fix this otherwise its time to step on their toes.

As for the electrician who cant figure out how to locate the boxes.... if this so called master cant find the boxes I would be questioning his ability big time as most any electrician would have the simple equipment to find concealed boxes.

Its hacks like these so called contractors that make DIY forums so popular.
 
  #4  
Old 06-24-14, 04:00 AM
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It should not be that hard to remember where the boxes were installed. If not a fox and hound can be used.

The rockers need to be back charged for their screwup.
 
  #5  
Old 06-24-14, 04:43 AM
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You are absolutely correct! Most drywallers are HACKS,it is their responsibility to locate the boxes,I hope he hasn't paid them for the drywall job.
Geo
 
  #6  
Old 06-24-14, 04:51 AM
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If you know the height of the boxes,use a straight edge such as a level placed horizontal on the wall and it will rock where the center of the box is.
Geo
 
  #7  
Old 06-24-14, 07:41 AM
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Thanks for all the answers everyone! The wires should definitely be live, he has them run to the panel (he also installed a new panel, it was a 1950's house with the old breakers you push in to reset) and tied into breakers, so we can just energize those lines and I'll try using the stud sensor with AC detector to map out where the lines and boxes are. Hopefully that works, but it sounds like it should!

To answer a few other questions, unfortunately the drywallers have been fully paid and assuming I can spend maybe an hour or two with the electrician and trace all this out (really just 4 boxes) it isn't worth dragging them back into the picture but now that I think about it, they covered another single box at another house they did! That one they were told about and they came back and found it on their own time.

What is funny is that all of these guys are very good at exactly what they do, the drywallers can rock an entire house or several rooms in record time and it will look nearly perfect. Apparently though you can't let things like boxes get in their way! The electrician can recite the code book for nearly any normal situation for wiring a house or commercial application but had no idea what to do when something not planned for popped up! He's new to the biz on his own though and I'm getting a great rate!
 
  #8  
Old 06-24-14, 09:12 AM
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the drywallers can rock an entire house or several rooms in record time and it will look nearly perfect.
Sure.....it's cutting out the boxes that takes time.
 
  #9  
Old 06-24-14, 09:27 AM
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Buried boxes

Have the receptacles been installed? Not likely. In which case the wires in the boxes could be shorted, is each box a separate circuit?
Geo
 
  #10  
Old 06-24-14, 10:04 AM
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What is funny is that all of these guys are very good at exactly what they do, the drywallers can rock an entire house or several rooms in record time and it will look nearly perfect. Apparently though you can't let things like boxes get in their way! The electrician can recite the code book for nearly any normal situation for wiring a house or commercial application but had no idea what to do when something not planned for popped up! He's new to the biz on his own though and I'm getting a great rate!

Sounds like the blind leading the blind over there. And I disagree, neither sound very "good at what the do".
 
  #11  
Old 06-24-14, 10:12 AM
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When ever you do this kind of work take lots of pictures!
I take cell phone pictures of every step wide view and every detail just so I know where and what everything is afterwards.

But then again, age may be at play in my case.
 
  #12  
Old 06-24-14, 01:54 PM
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Some will use a dot of spray paint on the floor at the stud. Different colors for each device.
 
  #13  
Old 06-24-14, 02:27 PM
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I was working one house where sheetrockers did that and the bumps were usually obvious in the right light. What puzzled me is why the sheetrockers didn't feel the bumps when they finished the wall. I wondered if it was selective blindness of touch.
 
  #14  
Old 06-24-14, 05:45 PM
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They did a good job with the drywall work, they'd done it before and just plotted out where the studs were and put up the new stuff in record time but they somehow managed to cover all these outlet boxes!
Wouldn't you think that any good, experienced tradesman would think it strange that there were absolutely no wall outlet boxes in a kitchen. I can understand that occasionally a wall box might be covered here or there throughout a house (I've seen it a few times), but all of them? I don't buy it at all! The drywall guys own this one, it is their reponsibility to remove the rock and reinstall new rock properly without covering the boxes. If I were that electrician and got there first, I'd start chopping.

I was working one house where sheetrockers did that and the bumps were usually obvious in the right light.
That's right. An occasional covered box means the drywall wasn't nailed or screwed anywhere near the box location and is a 1/2" off the stud; it is clearly visible. One good whack with your fist and the box location is even more visible. The tapers can patch it.
 
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