How to Use a Toner to Trace a Wire

A test tone generator is a device that creates sound energies through an electrical means. The device makes an electrical signal that is converted into sound. The sounds a wire toner makes varies depending on the application.

Electronic organs and pianos use simple tones based on certain frequencies on the musical scale. Electronic devices like signal testers get sounds from atonal frequencies and white-nose.

Using an electrical circuit tracer, you’ll be able to find a wire within a wall. This makes it easier for you to find the wire in your house and

If you’re trying to find the wires within the walls of your home, you’ll need a non-invasive way to search for them. With the right techniques and tools, you can trace the wiring without damaging your walls.

To use a tone probe, connect each section of the tone generator to a different conductor of your target wire. Quickly change the generator to its “Continuity” setting, to make sure the light stays off, then proceed with toning. If the light is on, then there is a partial or full short circuit on the wires.

After verifying there is no circuit shortage, switch to the “Tone” setting. Move to the area where you suspect the wire is located. Activate the device’s probe and move it towards the wall or surface that’s nearest to the wire.

If the wire is near, you’ll hear a tone. Keep moving the Toner probe until you find the spot or path that makes the loudest tone. That is where you’ll find the wire.

In alarm work, you’ll find a tone generator and probe kit to find a buried or cut wire. In this scenario, you know where to cut a hole on the drywall and pull the ends out. If you can access both ends of your target wire, the tone from the first one and then the other, that way, you’ll zero-in on both sides of the damaged ends and take them out.

You might have to make two holes to fish out both wire ends. This is due to no extra slack to help pull them out of the wall and make connections. If this is the case, then get a short piece that’s the same length as the wire.

Additional Tips

Any project that involves electricity can be difficult. Before you start, check your local laws and building codes that might apply to your project. Faulty wiring can cause electrocution, so follow the toner’s manual or speak to a professional if you have questions (proper whole house surge protection is essential).

If you’re working on wiring, turn the circuit breaker’s power off first. Use caution if you have to test the wires by tracing. Wear electrical gloves for protection, handle all tools with care if you have to cut into the floor or wall.

Handle saws carefully, and keep an eye out for other potentially dangerous items in your workshop. By staying safe with an electrical wire tracer, you’ll find it easier to remove dangerous wires hidden inside your walls.

About Blake Sutton

Blake has worked as an electrician for over 10 years, receiving his Journeyman Electrician license in 1998. Looking to take his professional electrical career further, in 2008 he received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BSEE) from the University of Texas in Austin. Blake now works full time as an electrical engineer, specializing in power systems.