How to Locate Electrical Wires Behind Sheetrock

Lead Image
  • 4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 80
What You'll Need
AC wire and stud finder
Drywall patch

Locating electrical wires behind sheetrock is important when attempting a wall repair or replacement of an electrical outlet. The easiest way to do this is to locate the schematics for the home and follow the plans to identify where the wires were placed. Another easy way is to get an AC wire and stud Finder and simply scan the wall over the affected area.

To save money, here is a simple guide to help you locate electrical wiring behind sheetrock.

Punching Holes in the Sheetrock

You can punch holes in the sheetrock along where the electrical outlet is located. Electrical wires are connected to a circuit box that is run alongside the stud wall. The problem with this method is that you will have a lot of holes in the sheetrock that will need to be patched and repaired.

Purchase a Stud Finder

The easiest and simplest way to locate electrical wires that are hidden behind the sheetrock is to use a stud finder. A stud finder is a tool with an electronic sensor that can detect obstructions behind sheetrock, such as metal or wood. A stud finder can be purchased for around $20 at any home improvement center, hardware store, or online retailer.

Purchasing a stud finder is a good investment for any project you have in the future that involves locating wooden or metal studs and any wiring. When purchasing a stud finder be sure to purchase one that has a setting for electrical wiring.

Use the Stud Finder

With the stud finder set to find electrical wires, place it against the sheetrock wall and move it alongside the drywall. A signal will indicate the location of any electrical wiring that is behind the sheetrock. Use a pencil to mark the location of the wiring so that you can make a hole in the sheetrock at the precise location.

How the Stud Finder Works

Typically, the stud finder will have a series of lights that increase in intensity as they locate the object it is searching for. Some models will emit a beeping sound along with the light that will get louder as you get closer to the wiring. This warning system is designed to attract both your auditory and sight sensors in order to inform you of the exact location of the electrical wiring.

Repairing the Sheetrock

Once you locate the electrical wiring with the stud finder and make the necessary repair or replacement, you will need to fix the sheetrock. To do this, cut out a section of the sheetrock and replace it with a drywall patch that is the size of the repair area. The sheetrock or drywall patch can be purchased at a home improvement center along with the stud finder.