How to Find a Lost Speaker Wire in a Wall

Homeowners regularly lose track of speaker wires.

Installers sometimes neglect to mark speaker-wire locations.Installers sometimes neglect to mark speaker-wire locations.
For example, sometimes a renovation project accidentally conceals a speaker wire in a wall. Other times, audio-equipment installers neglect to record what path a wire takes through walls or ceilings, leaving homeowners with nothing but one end of the speaker wire sticking out of the wall and no indication of where it emerges on the other side. To find a lost speaker wire, start with the method that causes the least damage possible. If that fails, move on to the next.

Ask the audio-equipment installer, electrician or homebuilder who participated in building your home if they know the location of the wire. If you live in a housing development or apartment, there may be a standard method that workers used to install speaker wires in each unit. Another possibility is that one of these people has access to your home's blueprint, which may contain information about how workers installed wiring.

Use a tone-and-probe kit (also called a wire tracer or tone generator) to find the speaker wire. If possible, rent the device. If not, buy one online or at an electrical-supply store. Use the tone-and-probe kit according to the manufacturer's instructions. Typically, you will have to attach an alligator clip to one end of the speaker wire and then turn on the device. It will generate a tone. Hold the probe that comes with the kit over the wall or ceiling near where the speaker wire emerges. The probe will indicate when it detects the tone in the hidden speaker wire. Use the probe to follow the path of the wire through the wall and ceiling until you find its end point.

Use a utility knife to cut open the wall to look for the speaker wire, if all else fails. Score a small section with the knife, then use a hammer to knock the piece out. The drywall will break on the score lines. Continue cutting until you find the speaker wire. Try to make the holes as small as possible. Use a flashlight if the hole is too dark for you to spot the speaker wire.

Things You Will Need

  • Tone-and-probe kit
  • Utility knife
  • Flashlight

Tips

  • If you find the wire but have trouble grabbing it, use a bent wire hanger to hook the wire and pull it toward you.
  • Repair any holes you make by installing adhesive drywall patches (available at most retail hardware stores) over each hole. Follow the manufacturer's instructions. Typically, you will have to peel the backing off the patch and lay it over the hole. Then use a 12-inch drywall knife to cover the patch with several coats of joint compound, allowing it to dry for 24 hours after each coat.

About the Author

Stan Mack is a business writer specializing in finance, business ethics and human resources. His work has appeared in the online editions of the "Houston Chronicle" and "USA Today," among other outlets. Mack studied philosophy and economics at the University of Memphis.