Unfortunately far too may accidents which occur in the home relate to DIY and one very common one is drilling into pipes or cables which are buried in the walls or floors. Clearly if you drill into a water pipe it can lead to a serious water leak and potentially hundreds of pounds worth of damage – not to mention plumbing bills. Drilling into an electrical cable can lead to even more serious consequences such as severe electric shock. Even if all it results in is a tripped power outage, this is still annoying and costly to fix.
So the best way to avoid all these headaches is simply to know where the pipes and cables in your walls and floors are. Unless you have see-through walls or x-ray vision this can be a difficult thing to do. This is where pipe and cable detectors come in. Generally they work in a similar way to metal detectors, finding the metal beneath the surface. Those which find electrical wires work by find live electrical currents.
The simplest of these devices can be purchased for around £10 and will locate electrical wiring and pipework, but not much more. More expensive options will find wires, cables, joists and stud work as well as pipes. In addition they will show if the electrical wiring is live and what the voltage is.
If you are willing to spend in excess of £70 you can get a scanner which will find not only where a stud is, but where the centre of the stud, joist or pipe is and display it on an LCD screen. It allows the user to trace the direction of wires easily and accurately, making any DIY task a breeze.
Using a pipe or cable detector couldn't be easier. Simply pass the detector over the area you are planning on cutting into and wait for the indicator light to come on or for the unit to beep. Some units will even tell you how deep the pipe or joist is. The best thing to do at this stage is to mark on the wall in pencil where the object is and avoid the area. Move the detector to each side of the object to find the next stud or pipe so you know how much space you have in between.
Even if you have all the gadgets known to man, it is still a good idea to turn off water and electricity if you are cutting or drilling into walls or floors. Even the best equipment in the world isn't foolproof.
While there can be no replacement for pure common sense and using your eyes, having a detector might just make the difference between an easy job and a very expensive mistake.