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Bain
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So I checked some old wiring in an attic with a voltage tick, and it beeped. Next, without really thinking, I checked the old SE wires--which were connected to nothing--and the voltage tick beeped. I moved the thing away from the wires, but then it beeped again when it was near a wooden window sill.

Any ideas about why the voltage tick would misbehave?

This is not a Katenesque trick question; I'm nowhere near as clever as he is.

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Just a thought, would it be possible the dead wires ran parallel to live wires so that a voltage could be induced? You would have voltage, but little amperage. Maybe the same thing on your window sill with metallic (lead) paint?

Of course my non-contact tester will go off just brushing my jacket over it in my shirt pocket...

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Originally posted by inspector57

Just a thought, would it be possible the dead wires ran parallel to live wires so that a voltage could be induced? You would have voltage, but little amperage. Maybe the same thing on your window sill with metallic (lead) paint?

Of course my non-contact tester will go off just brushing my jacket over it in my shirt pocket...

Yeah, I've had that happen. I've been in attics where the old K & T is cut at either end but my ticker went off because there was a piece of NM running close by parallel to it.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by Bain

So I checked some old wiring in an attic with a voltage tick, and it beeped. Next, without really thinking, I checked the old SE wires--which were connected to nothing--and the voltage tick beeped. I moved the thing away from the wires, but then it beeped again when it was near a wooden window sill.

Any ideas about why the voltage tick would misbehave?

This is not a Katenesque trick question; I'm nowhere near as clever as he is.

Well, here's a clever answer for you: I have no idea.

The same thing's happened to me. That's why I don't trust those things. I had one house where the volt stick kept beeping every time I brought it near the underside of the roof in the attic; there weren't any wires anywhere near it. (One layer of comp shingles over one layer of wood shingles.) If I brought the volt stick anywhere within about 6-8" of the underside of the roof, it beeped like crazy -- but not from the top of the roof, just the bottom. It was a bright, sunny, dry day.

Sometimes those sticks beep at nothing at all. I have a dog that behaves the same way. I don't know why he's like that either.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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If you got nothing better to do - stop at a "smart" traffic light, park and walk around with your volt stick thru the traffic lanes, hold it up high so you look like the Statue of Liberty. Most of the time you will end up looking like Rudolph!

Or, put a gauss meter on your dash and drive around. The force will be with you!

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A tip I always follow.. when testing wires with my tester, I ALWAYS test the tester first on a wire(s) I know to be hot. I hunt and peck until I find a live wire. This way, I know my tester is working and the battery is OK, and then I can believe my test. I don't want to assume the tester is working and the battery is OK when I test an unknown wire and then assume the wire is not live.

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Originally posted by msteger

A tip I always follow.. when testing wires with my tester, I ALWAYS test the tester first on a wire(s) I know to be hot. I hunt and peck until I find a live wire. This way, I know my tester is working and the battery is OK, and then I can believe my test. I don't want to assume the tester is working and the battery is OK when I test an unknown wire and then assume the wire is not live.

Testing the tester is excellent advice.

But with volt sticks, it isn't enough. You should never rely exclusively on a volt stick if there's a risk of harm from the wire. Volt sticks give false positives and false negatives all the time. Don't trust them for anything but an initial, cursory, review.

If you really want to know whether or not a wire is live, use a multi-meter, wiggy, neon tester, or other reliable device. And, as Matthew suggests, test the tester first.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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