How To Test If Wire Is Live/Hot Without a Multimeter? Answered!

How To Test If Wire Is Live/Hot Without a Multimeter? |

Electricity tasks are not easy to do; you always have to be cautious when dealing with them. However, with the necessary tools, they become easier and safer. But sometimes, you need to finish tasks while not having the required tools. For example, how to know if a wire is live without having a multimeter?

How To Test if Wire Is Live/Hot Without a Multimeter?

1. Build Your Tester

First, you need to build a tester to test the wire. You can use any method to test; for example; you can use a bulb and a socket. Then connect two wires to it. Start by connecting one wire to the ground (GND) or the neutral. And connect the other wire to the wire you need to test.

2. Remove the Box Cover

Now, you have to unscrew the box’s cover. Before using a screwdriver, you have to be more careful because if you touch any wire, the current might pass through you. And depending on the intensity of the current, it may lead to critical injuries.

3. Leave the Wires Connection the Same Way

You should know the wiring standards; all wires are based on standards. These standards follow color codes, which also apply to the home wiring. For example, any black-colored wire is considered a live wire. So whenever you want to repair or fix something in the wiring, you should not change this standard.

4. Connect Your Tester

Start by connecting one of the wires attached to the lamp to the ground (GND). Then connect the lamp’s second wire to the wire you need to test. If the lamp lights, then the wire is live/hot. But if the lamp doesn’t light, then it may not be live/hot wire, so to be sure, you need to test the lamp on any socket in the wall to know if it’s working or not.

5. Safety Warnings When Testing a Live Wire

  • Always prepare your safety equipment.
    When dealing with electricity tasks, it’s very important to be cautious and not to touch any metal. It’s essential to wear goggles while working to protect your eyes from any sparks.
  • Back of hand rule.
    If you ever wanted to touch a wire to see if it’s hot or not, you have to follow the back of hand rule. This rule means to touch the wire with the back of your hand; this way, if the wire is live, your hand will contact away from it. But if you used the front of the hand, your hand may stick to the wire, and you wouldn’t be able to let go.
  • Cover the switches.
    While working on a circuit, cover any switches or breakers in it. That way you can let everybody know that you are working and shouldn’t turn on them. It may seem not required, but it can ensure safety and avoid risks.

How To Test if the Socket Wire Is Live/Hot?

If you want to test a wire in a socket, you can follow two methods. The first method is:

  1.  Prepare the tester.
    First, you need to get a tester. If you don’t have one, you can get a light bulb, socket, and a couple of wires.
  2. Remove the socket cover.
    Use a screwdriver to unscrew the cover of the socket; so you can reach the wire.
  3. Connect the tester.
    Now, you can start by connecting one of the wires in the socket to the ground (GND) and the other to the wire you want to test.
  4. Observe the light bulb.
    If the light bulb lights, then it’s a live wire. But if the light bulb doesn’t light, you need to make sure it’s not the light bulb is not the reason. You can do this by connecting the light bulb wires to any wall socket to test it.

In the second method, you will need a tool called the receptacle. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Prepare your safety equipment.
    It may seem an easy task, but safety is always first. You should wear an insulating glove while testing the socket wire.
  2. Start installing the receptacle.
    First, connect the black-colored probe to the ground (GND) or the neutral. You can find the ground in the left jack. Then, connect the red probe to the right jack.
  3. Observe the reading.
    The live wire has a reading between 230V to 250V. So if your wire reading is between these two readings, it’s live/hot wire.

How To Test if the Wire Behind a Wall Is Live/Hot?

Suppose you want to test a wire behind a wall without damaging the wall or making any holes in it. Then, you should use a radar-like tool that will enable you to know without the need of even touching the wall. The Ultra-wideband or UWB is very accurate and precise, but it needs some knowledge so you can use it.

How To Test if the Wire Is Live/Hot Using a Tester Screwdriver?

You can use a tester screwdriver to know if a wire is live/hot, and this by following these steps:

1. Remove The Covers

If the wire is behind any covers or there is any material that prevents the access of the tester screwdriver to the wire you want to test. For example, if you are trying to test a wire behind a switch, you need to unscrew it to reach the terminal.

2. Find The Good Point

When using a tester screwdriver, you want to find a good point for the screwdriver. This means that you need to touch the bare wire, not the insulated part.

3. The Neon Lamp

Before using the screwdriver, make sure that the screwdriver’s handle is well insulated. Then, hold the insulated part and start touching the bare wire. The wire is live if the neon lamp in the screwdriver’s handle lights. But if the neon lamp doesn’t light, then the wire is not live. You have to make sure that the screwdriver is working and the fault isn’t in it.

Related Readings:

How To Measure and Identify Resistor Using Multimeter & Color Codes?

How To Identify Neutral Wire With Multimeter?

How To Check If Wire is Broken With a Multimeter? – 4 Steps

How to Identify Wires in a 3-Way Switch?

How to Identify Line and Load Wires? – 4 Ways

How To Know the Live Wire When Both Are the Same Color?

The live wire is usually red-colored or black-colored, and the neutral wire is white-colored. But sometimes, the wires can have the same color but have some means to identify the neutral one. For example, you can find small writing on the wire.

How To Know the Positive Wire if Both Are Black-Colored?

The two wires are red and black; the red wire is the positive wire in most cases. Meanwhile, the black wire is the negative one. However, in some situations, both wires are black, but one has a white stripe. The plain black one is the positive wire, while the one with a white stripe is the negative one.


Electricity tasks may seem easy to do, but you have to be always cautious when dealing with them. Even if you don’t have the necessary tools, you can still find a way to do the task. Testing a wire without a multimeter can be done through some easy steps. However, it would be best if you looked for your safety before working on anything.

Scroll to Top