Is it common to test cabinet screw heads for electrical current in case they may have interfered with wire? Some of the 2x4 behind where I am hanging cabinets have wire running along, in addition to perpendicular, which can more easily be avoided. I would like to use 3-1/8" screws where I have upright 2x4 (as opposed to shorter screws, which would be less risky but less strong too).

If yes what can I use to send the current to, if there is one? Should I somehow send it to an adjacent power outlet?

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    If you choose to use overly long screws, you choose to ignore the provisions of code to protect wiring and plumbing in the wall via depth of cover, or metal plates where there is not enough depth of cover. Consider that if you do hit a wire, you'll have to remove your cabinets and rip the wall open to repair the wiring you damaged. – Ecnerwal Oct 27 '20 at 16:19
  • @Ecnerwal what do you think is the optimal screw length, assuming 1/2" think cabinets and the same for drywall? – amphibient Oct 27 '20 at 16:23
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    Plumbing code is 1.5", electrical code is 1.25" (to edge of framing), so 2 or 2-1/8" is as far as you can safely go without hitting a properly installed wire if you have an additonal inch over the framing. Choose fatter screws or bolts rather than longer ones if you think you need more. Or use additional screws/bolts. – Ecnerwal Oct 27 '20 at 16:51
  • @Ecnerwal is that into the framing or total length? – amphibient Oct 27 '20 at 16:56
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    Total length, of course. If you go more than 1-1/8" into the framing you risk hitting electrical wires installed 1-1/4" from the face of the framing and not protected by a metal plate. – Ecnerwal Oct 27 '20 at 17:51

You could use a non-contact voltage tester.

If you haven't hung the cabinets yet, check if your stud finder has a function for identifying electrical wiring.

A french cleat might help you hang the cabinets while avoiding any inconveniently-placed wiring within the wall. Youtube has some great how-to videos on french cleat cabinet installation.


I find a stud finder with wire detect the most reliable way to find hot wires in a wall. The ones I have will detect +- 2” stay away from that zone and you will be fine.

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