I'm currently renting an apartment and my spouse and I want to hang a metal fixture above the wall where our bed is (in lieu of a headboard...for now at least). Where I want to hang it is 4 feet above the only electrical socket on that wall and I drew a line 5 feet width.

The stud detector is detecting live wires all throughout the line I drew, which seems a bit crazy to me. The socket does however control the light switch on the adjacent wall and the light fixture on the ceiling so maybe there is just a huge square of electrical wiring on the wall.

Should I be trusting the detector? I get mixed results depending on where I start the detector and if I start it in a certain position once it picks up the live wire it seems to keep the light on for feet, until I'm about a foot away from the line I drew, which would be about 4 feet from where the hole I marked is. Since the piece is metal it's a bit heavy (like 10 lbs at most) so I was going to use some heavy duty metal drywall anchors (just in case) that are also quite sharp, so I'm very leary on this.

Thanks for any responses.

  • 5
    I think you should reconsider hanging a heavy metal fixture above your bed using just drywall fasteners. If it should accidentally come down while you were in the bed you may just not ever wake up again.
    – Michael Karas
    Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 20:34
  • 1
    I hear ya. It's maybe 10 lbs max. Not too heavy, but heavy enough for me not to trust those plastic anchors.
    – EHorodyski
    Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 20:41
  • 1
    You may want to look at this discussion about anchors.
    – bib
    Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 21:41
  • 2
    You also may be detecting horizontal bracing or metal studs.
    – bib
    Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 21:44
  • 2
    If you should damage a wire it will be very difficult to properly repair. If you're going to make holes to find structure, you're better off lightly tapping a small nail through the drywall. Almost impossible to damage wiring this way. The building may have foil backed wallboard or insulation which confuses most electronic stud locaters, rather than containing that much wiring.
    – bcworkz
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 18:06

1 Answer 1


Screw into studs, not drywall anchors, for something heavy that will be above your head while you sleep!

If you're worried about shorting the circuit with your screw, turn the breaker off first.

Measure voltage between hot, neutral and ground, and make sure its 0. Then measure resistance, and write down what you find.

Then try to make sure with the stud finder that you're screwing directly into the middle of a stud. It is then, very very unlikely you will hit the wire. Especially 4-5 feet above the floor!

Once the screw is in, measure resistance again and compare to what you wrote.

If you see a significant change in resistance (>2%) then you might have hit the wire with your screw, and should take steps to repair from it. You could disconnect the outlet in the overhead's junction box, or you could cut open drywall and replace the wire.

But more than likely you will measure no change in resistance, and can turn the breaker back on with confidence that you're OK.

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