Determining what circuit a wire is on

drewguyFebruary 5, 2013

When our house got rewired the electrician was a bit lazy and overloaded a circuit (or at least created a circuit with the potential for overload).

I think I've found the wire that links two sets of light switches with power. (Previously one bank of switches was fed from the circuit . . . it appears he pulled power from the first bank to feed a second bank of switches).

This wire is easily accessed in our unfinished basement, so I could add a box and run a new wire back to the panel and add a circuit . . . problem solved.

But, how can I confirm which circuit this wire is on, to be sure I'm right? I don't want to cut it -- obviously if I did so I could tell at that point by wiring on an outlet or bulb. Any type of circuit tracer for this situation (I have one with the plug-in module)

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Ron Natalie

Most receptacle circuits have a potential for overload. Once you have more than one receptacle on a circuit nothing precludes you from plugging two 20A appliances in. This is why bathrooms, laundries, and kitchens have specific requirements.

The best bet would be to trace it back to the panel and kill the breaker that it's connected to and be sure the loads you want to move go out with power.

This is one time a non-contact tester might be useful. Touch the wire to see if it triggers. Then go shutoff the breaker for the circuit you THINK it is, come back and see if the wire now appears to be dead.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 12:13PM
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Sorry . . . I know what circuit all the lights are on (I've turned it off and all these lights turn off.).

I'm trying to confirm that a wire that runs from one set of loads to the other set of loads in fact connecting those two load points. A non-contact tester would require cutting the wire, no? (I can see the wire in the basement, but can't confirm what it's connected to in the walls above)

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 4:18PM
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A non-contact tester does Not require cutting the wire.

Here is a link that might be useful: Using a Non-Contact Tester

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 5:20PM
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Aaah. Thanks. That sounds like it should do what I need.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 6:04PM
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