Posts Tagged ‘Tools’

Trying to determine the best use of your tool and not sure who or how to ask? After many decades of experience in working with pro users, I’ve consolidated some common FAQ’s that should help pros and DIYers alike get the most from their stud finder. These troubleshooting tips are designed to save you time, money, and headaches.

Top 5 Stud Finder Troubleshooting Tips

1) Check Your Battery. If your stud finder worked previously, but no longer seems to work, about 9 times out of 10, the problem is a weak battery. You may swear that the battery is still good, but it’s not.  Is the battery new from the store or new from the drawer?  Many people don’t realize batteries are no longer functional after their expiration date, even if they have never been used and that 9V batteries do not hold their charge as well as other battery types.

Each of these batteries has a printed expiration date, but they are all in different locations on the battery.

Each of these batteries has a printed expiration date, but they are all in different locations on the battery.

Many batteries have an expiration date printed on them; however, those dates are often an estimate, as batteries can often wear out earlier due to extreme hot or cold. One recent customer insisted his battery was good because the battery could still open his garage door, and “those garage doors are heavy!” Haha. Compared to garage doors and many other devices, stud finders require a very strong battery. When customers realize that the battery really is the problem, they are usually relieved that it was such a simple solution, and that their stud finder still works! You can find more battery tips by visiting the Zircon in the Real World blog, How is Your Battery?

2) Place First, then Scan. Put the tool up against the wall first, then press and hold the button to start scanning. Stud finders work by measuring the density behind the wall. The density over the stud is greater than the area away from the stud. Your stud finder automatically calibrates to your wall as soon as you turn it on.  If you mistakenly press the calibration button before the stud finder is placed on the wall, the stud finder will calibrate to the density of thin air instead of calibrating to your wall.

The Zircon® MultiScanner® i520 is an example of a center finding tool.

The Zircon® MultiScanner® i520 is an example of a center finding tool.

3) Are You on the Edge or on the Center? Determine if your stud finder is an ‘edge finder’ or a ‘center finder.’ A Zircon center finder will indicate both edges and the center of the stud. With an edge finder, the user must mark both edges of the stud to determine the center.  A common mistake is for a homeowner to mark only one edge of the stud which often leads to a screw placed at the stud edge and not at the center of the stud.

4)  Is it Drywall or Lath and Plaster? Your stud finder is designed to work with sheet materials like drywall or plywood.  If the wall is lath and plaster or some other material, you’ll need different solutions that you can find on my blog, The Secret to Finding Wood Studs in Lath and Plaster.

5) Mark it. Make sure to mark the stud edge on the wall with a pencil. Although DIYers often carefully locate the stud, they just eyeball where to place the screw. By doing so, they are only approximating where the stud edge actually is located -they miss the stud, and think the stud finder does not work effectively. I recommend using masking or painter’s tape on the wall, so the marks are not permanent. It’s also a good idea to use longer pieces of tape so you can ‘map out’ multiple stud locations in your work area (studs are normally spaced 16” or 24” apart on center).

We’re here to help!  In addition to these troubleshooting tips, Zircon has an online searchable knowledge base on many stud finding and scanning topics available 24/7. We also offer DIY personal end-user support Monday – Friday, 8 am – 5 pm PST.  Call, email, or visit us online for the help that you may need. Help us help you.

Advertisements

From time to time, major home improvement stores invite contractor customers to the store to enjoy complimentary coffee, juice, and a breakfast buffet. Select vendors also set up tables to display and demonstrate their latest tools. As I was performing Zircon demonstrations at one of these events, practically every contractor said he already owned at least one Zircon stud finder.  But then two twenty-something year old guys, and one 50ish year old guy who seemed like the boss, and his wife, walked up to the table.

“Missing the stud by just a hair can be a big problem when people hit plumbing or electrical on the side of the stud.”

“Missing the stud by just a hair can be a big problem when people hit plumbing or electrical on the side of the stud.”

One of the guys had just received a Zircon MultiScanner wall scanner for his birthday, but hadn’t used it yet. I took this opportunity to show him how it worked by using the scanner on our demo wall. I then handed him the tool so he could try for himself.  His friend was also interested in the tool and wanted to try it as well. However, when I asked the boss, he said he didn’t need a stud finder. He just knocks on the wall and listens.

Now, the boss seemed like the kind of guy who has more construction knowledge than I’ll ever have. I didn’t want to sound like I was telling him what he should do, so I explained why many people need stud finders.  I rationalized, “Yeah, knocking on the wall can work if you’re really good at it…But some walls are a lot harder than others if they’re thicker, and ceilings and floors are tough, right?

“But even with half-inch drywall, the reason so many people use stud finders is because a stud is only an inch and a half wide, so if they miss by just a little, they can end up putting a screw into plumbing or electrical that’s fastened to the side of the stud.”

The younger guys started laughing and chuckled,”How did you know? Dude! How did you know? That did happen to him (the boss) just last week!”

Wire bundle fastened to the side of a stud

Wire bundle fastened to the side of a stud

Looking a little embarrassed, but still proud and tough, the boss said, “Yes, Sir, I got zapped pretty good; knocked me on my butt, but by the grace of God, I was back to work the next day, and fishin’ the next evening.”

His wife, (who I guessed runs the business’s office, but didn’t seem to know anything about the minor electrical shock) said, ”Honey, I’m gonna get one of these stud finders, but we can keep it in your truck.”  And the boss smiled, and said, “Thanks babe, I love you, too.”  And they walked away with a top of the line Zircon MultiScanner Pro SL wall scanner.

That was many years ago, but even today when people talk to me about finding studs by knocking on the wall, I never imply they should stop doing this.  Using a stud finder should be done in addition to knocking, not instead of knocking! They should work together. Knocking on the wall is a very quick way to find the approximate location of the stud, but a stud sensor shows you the precise location, so you don’t miss by just a little… which could turn out to be a big problem.

Copper water line running along the side of a stud.

Copper water line running along the side of a stud.

It’s human nature for people to be much more receptive to trying something if they are not also being asked to stop something they have been doing for decades. Pros who swear by their Zircon tools on the job still tend to knock and listen.  It’s one more piece of information they can use to help map the wall, and they’ve been doing it for a long, long time.

So go ahead and knock. Use every tool you have to get the job done right: your mind, your knuckles, and your Zircon StudSensor.

Follow us @zircontools, visit Facebook or www.zircon.com for handy information on Zircon’s stud finders, including the MultiScanner Pro SL – This 4-in-1 wall scanner scans for studs, deep studs, metal, and live electrical wiring. The easy-to-read LCD display and SpotLite® Pointing System clearly indicates the edges of the stud.

For a Zircon in the Real World viewpoint, please visit our blog, “When a Wall is Not Just a Wall“.

Note: Photos were taken in a simulated lab environment used for testing and training purposes.

Kurt Stauss at Honeywell

Classroom training started with a video, followed by questions and answers, hands-on training on demonstration walls, and a written applications test.

Zircon has received requests for training at large industrial complexes around the country because the safety departments now require workers to fill out a form certifying that they have scanned the wall, floor or ceiling before workers penetrate these materials, whether they are concrete or drywall.

As these photos show, I conducted classroom and hands-on training for subcontractors who work at a Department of Energy (DOE) site managed by Honeywell, near Kansas City.  Each attendee was trained in the usage of the Zircon MetalliScanner MT6 and the Zircon MultiScanner i500. At the end of the training session, the attendees received a certificate after demonstrating basic proficiency in operating the MT6 and the MultiScanner i500.

The head of the safety department personally researched and tested various brands of metal detectors for concrete and multi-function wall scanners (stud finders) for drywall.  He could have selected different vendors for each category, but Zircon was selected to fulfill both goals based on the performance of the tools, and especially because of their ease of use.

Kurt Stauss at Honeywell near wall

First step in the training was to demonstrate that the MT6 worked in the environment, by locating high voltage lines in conduit in the wall behind me here

Before starting the classroom training, I was asked to demonstrate the MT6 onsite, as this would get the men excited about the capabilities of the MT6. At the onsite location, inside the wall behind me, there were high voltage electrical lines, but they didn’t tell me that.

I was easily able to locate and trace the power lines inside the steel conduit by using the MT6.  Of course, conduit offers some protection in many cases, but if a worker core drills through the wall in that location, it would cut through the conduit (and high voltage lines) like a hot knife through butter! The workers were thoroughly impressed with the performance of the MT6. (They want to get home safe every night)!

Kurt Stauss at Honeywell 3

The class laughed when one guy commented on how surprised he was that the MT6 works so well, considering how inexpensive it is.

I recently did a similar training at an Intel Chip Fab facility in Arizona and they selected the Zircon MetalliScanner MT6 and the MultiScanner i500.  One comment I hear repeatedly is that they knew about Zircon stud finders, but they had no idea Zircon also made such awesome concrete scanners!

(Note: Cameras are not allowed inside the high security DOE facility, but the photos were sent to me by a DOE staff photographer).

Zircon’s in the Real Blogs also provide a service and training perspective on popular subjects, such as the blog, “Does it Have X-Ray Vision?” For additional insights, please also visit us @zircontools, like us on Facebook or ivsit http://www.zircon.com.