How can I tell if my wires are live?

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by coopns, Jul 24, 2009.

  1. coopns

    coopns New Member

    Messages:
    95
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    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. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689
    Turn off ALL the power Einstein.:rolleyes:

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

    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. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,334
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    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. ActionDave

    ActionDave Electrician

    Messages:
    346
    Location:
    Colorado
    Heavy gloves and the neighbors cat.
  5. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    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. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,459
    Location:
    MD
    Testers/voltmeters (except Wiggys) indicate phantom voltages so instead use an incand. lamp in a socket with pigtail leads.
  7. Cookie

    Cookie .

    Messages:
    5,658
    Location:
    .
    My dad and I used to take our fingers wet them, and briefly touch a hot wire. I wouldn't recommend this. :D
  8. iminaquagmire

    iminaquagmire DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    207
    Not better multimeters. But still a simple tester here will do the job.
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