Find a Wire Break
Troubleshooting a Wire Break
From time to time you may experience a wire break - this is actually very normal over the lifetime of an electric dog fence. If a wire does break, the transmitter box will let you know through either an audible alarm or an error light. You will also notice that your receiver collars are not responding to the signal from the fence.
Short Loop Test & Collar Test:
If you suspect a wire break, check your dog fence transmitter. Most dog fence transmitters have an alarm on them that indicate a break in the line. It makes a loud piercing sound that indicates a break in your dog fence main loop or twisted wire. Some transmitters such as the Pet Guardian systems and the Invisible Fence gate systems do not have an alarm they simply blink indicating that the dog fence system is functional.
Do a short loop test.
1. Unplug the neutral wires from the dog fence transmitter.
2. Cut a 12 inch piece of wire and strip both ends.
3. Plug one end of the wire into each dog fence terminal.
If the transmitter stops beeping or in the case of the Invisible Fence or Pet Guardian system starts blinking your transmitter is more than likely functional. If your transmitter continues to beep with the short loop connected to the terminals, the problem is inthe transmitter itself. You can purchase replacement transmitters from our site if your system is no longer under warranty.
If the indicator light or the audible alarm stops when you test using a short loop, test your dog fence collar on the short loop. Put your dog fence collar next to the short loop making sure the range is set at low on the transmitter and the short loop wires are separated far enough so as not to cancel the signal out. Hold your dog fence collar several inches away from the loop. (Be sure you have fresh batteries in the collar.) Your electric dog fence collar should activate by beeping or shocking next to the line. If the transmitter passes this test you probably have a break in the main dog fence loop.
You can also use a multi-meter to verify the main loop function (continuity). If you don’t have a multi meter, you can purchase one from any hardware or home improvement store.
Set the multi-meter to the continuity setting (the position resembles a speaker). Touch the tips of the metal legs to the ends of your twisted dog fence wire. If the multi meter beeps you have continuity in your dog fence wire, meaning the loop is functional and there is no wire break. If this is the case, the problem may be in your collar or transmitter.
Wire Break Detection Methods
The usual suspects in terms of wire breaks are edging, weed whackers, aerators, and rodents. Doing a walk of your perimeter looking for indications that there has been digging or trauma along the line can be a quick way to find an obvious break. Breaks are also common where the splices or connections are. Checking the transmitter box connections and places where you know two wires were joined will often reveal the problem
1. Begin at the transmitter. Follow the wire from the transmitter to the exit point through a wall, door, or window. Carefully inspect the area where the twisted wire exits your home. This is a common area for wire breaks. Follow the twisted dog fence wire examining the ground looking for possible disturbances.
2. Walk the perimeter of your main dog fence loop searching for disturbances in the ground. Pay close attention to driveway, pathway, sidewalk and heavy foot traffic areas. These are the most common places to find a wire break. Edge lines at driveways and sidewalks are most susceptible to breaks.
Wire Break Locator Kit
You can locate a wire break for any brand systems using a PetSafe Wire Break Locator Kit. The kit includes a mini transmitter and an AM radio.
Based upon our extensive tests, we have determined that this device only works well for fence systems with less than 500 feet of wire. The wire breaks must be clean breaks. This product is not effective for finding partial or decaying breaks.
1. Turn off your dog fence transmitter
2. Connect your twisted wire to the PetSafe wire break finder.
3. Ground the sending unit. You can ground the sending unit (using the enclosed wire) to a ground rod or the center screw of an electrical outlet.
4. Plug in the main PetSafe sending unit so both lights on the transmitter are lit.
5. Turn the supplied AM radio on and turn the station to 530 KHZ. You may need to adjust the dial to a channel without a radio station.
6. Begin following the twisted wire with the radio towards the main dog fence loop. You will hear a combination of two tones as you follow the twisted wire. If there is a break in the twisted wire, the tone will slowly switch from two tones to one tone.
7. If everything checks out fine from the twisted wire, begin following the main dog fence loop. You will hear one steady tone. Follow the dog fence wire until the tone decreases or begins to change. Dig around this area and locate both ends of the broken wire.
8. If you run into interference issues, disconnect the twisted wire from the main loop and connect both ends of the main loop to your sending unit. You will need to run an extension cord to your main loop to power it up.
RF Choke Method
With Innotek systems you can use the RF choke method to find the break. First you will need to purchase a 100 µH RF choke at your local hardware or electronics supply store. Next disconnect your end wires from the control box and replace them with the choke – one end of the choke in each lead on the control box. Turn the signal strength all the way up. You should see no wire break error with the choke in place. Next take your two end wires and attach one to either side of the choke by wrapping the wire around the choke. Make sure that the un-insulated end of each wire is touching the choke. Use an AM Radio to detect the break by walking the perimeter and listening for a lack of sound. You should hear an audible pulsing where the wire is intact and silence in the area of the break.
Partially Replacing Dog Fence Wire:
If it is an older dog fence system, consider replacing the perimeter loop before investing too much time locating and repairing a wire break. Wire is inexpensive and installing a dog fence is much easier the second time around. You can usually skip the driveways and pathways. Simply splice into them on both ends, although it is a good idea to test areas as you replace sections of wire.
1. To start, locate the ends of the twisted wire that meet your main electric dog fence loop.
2. Disconnect the twisted line from the main loop. Strip about ½ inch of wire from the twisted wire so the copper is exposed. Temporarily twist both ends of the wire together.
3. Go back to your dog fence control box and test for continuity with a meter on your dog fence transmitter. If the twisted wire is good move on to the next step. If not replace the twisted wire or locate the break in the twisted wire. If the twisted wire was broken and you repaired it or replaced it, temporarily hook the twisted wire back to main loop. Test for continuity at the dog fence transmitter box. If the main dog fence loop tests good permanently repair or replace the twisted wire only. No need to look further. If you still do not have a complete loop, proceed to the next step.
5. If you have determined that the break is not in the twisted wire, begin partially replacing areas of your wire that are in question. Go back to your dog fence transmitter after replacing sections to check to see if the problem has been corrected. You can also run a piece of standard wire from each end of your twisted wire to the middle of fence and connect them to your loop. This will make it easier to isolate the break and allow you to lessen your search area for potential breaks.
Repairing a Break
Once you find the wire break, strip off a half-inch of insulation on each side and then use a waterproof wire nut or waterproof splice capsule to re-join the two ends. If the wire is too short to re-join, you can simply splice in an entire section of wire to make the connection.
Follow this link to find out the proper way to repair and splice a break.
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