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Thread: How can I tell if my wires are live?

  1. #1
    DIY Member coopns's Avatar
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    Default How can I tell if my wires are live?

    I took down a fixture to replace with a ceiling can light. My box is labled very well so I am not sure what circuit it is. I don't want to buy a "not sure what they are called...tester", is there some other way to test those two wires without getting zapped?

  2. #2

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    Turn off ALL the power Einstein.

    Maybe it would have neem a good idea to find the circuit when the fixture was still installed??

    If there are only two wires in the light j box (one black, one white) turning off the switch will turn off the power.

    If there are more than two wires up there, turn off the circuit somehow.

  3. #3
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    A simple tester is dirty cheap. All they are is a glow light with 2 leads that you touch to the wires or push into a socket. If the light glows, the wires are hot. These are not high class meters or voltage readers, just is there power or not.

  4. #4
    Electrician ActionDave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coopns View Post
    I don't want to buy a "not sure what they are called...tester", is there some other way to test those two wires without getting zapped?
    Heavy gloves and the neighbors cat.

  5. #5
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 220/221 View Post

    If there are only two wires in the light j box (one black, one white) turning off the switch will turn off the power.
    Maybe and maybe not...if the neutral was switched by a DIYr instead of the hot it will still be live...always use a meter / tester to test a curcuit, test it on a known live circuit first...ask me how I know...

  6. #6
    Homeowner Thatguy's Avatar
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    Testers/voltmeters (except Wiggys) indicate phantom voltages so instead use an incand. lamp in a socket with pigtail leads.

  7. #7

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    My dad and I used to take our fingers wet them, and briefly touch a hot wire. I wouldn't recommend this.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thatguy View Post
    Testers/voltmeters (except Wiggys) indicate phantom voltages so instead use an incand. lamp in a socket with pigtail leads.
    Not better multimeters. But still a simple tester here will do the job.
    I consider myself an accomplished DIY'er. I don't know everything but help where I can. I'm not a pro, but like to think I'm professional.

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