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How to Locate Cables, Pipes and Studs

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Before drilling, it is essential to know the whereabouts of cables and pipes, to avoid an accident. It is necessary to also know the location of wall studs so they can support hanging heavy objects. Our guide will help you locate these items.

Step 1

The Old-Fashioned Way

The Old-Fashioned Way

The most basic method is listening for a change in pitch while lightly tapping the wall with a hammer. Tapping the centre of an unsupported plasterboard span gives a very hollow sound. As you continue to tap your hammer across the surface of the plasterboard, the sound will change to a duller, more solid sound, indicating the presence of a stud.

Step 2

Using a Stud-Finder

Using a Stud-Finder

A stud-finder uses a sensor to locate wires or pipes behind the plasterboard. Place the stud-finder on the wall and press the activating button. Slowly slide it in one direction until the indicator light glows and there is a beeping sound. Most stud-finders will locate pipes and electrical cables as well as timber. There is usually a separate indicator light to indicate the presence of an electrical wire.

Step 3

Locating the Left Edge of the Stud

Locating the Left Edge of the Stud

Using the method above, slowly slide the stud-finder across the wall from left to right. When the indicator light illuminates and the device beeps, place a piece of masking tape on the wall (or mark it with a pencil), this will show the left hand edge of the stud.

Step 4

Locating the Right Edge of the Stud

Locating the Right Edge of the Stud

Repeating the process but sliding the stud-finder from right to left, you will locate the right hand edge of the hidden baton.

Step 5

Confirming Location

Confirming Location

To make doubly sure you have correctly located the timber work within the wall, drive a panel pin through the plasterboard. You will feel the resistance of the timber if you have correctly found the stud.