Tips and Trick to Using Zircon Tools
  • Helpful Hints
  • Mapping the Wall
  • Calibration
  • Center Finder
  • Edge Finder
  • Minimizing False Positive
  • Use Metal and AC options

#1: Helpful Hints for Stud Finders

• Always place the tool on the wall before pressing the power button. The tool must calibrate to the surface being scanned for successful stud finding.

• Make sure you nail or drill in the center of the stud. Most stud finder models will indicate the edges of a stud - only Zircon® Center Finding StudSensor tools will indicate the center.

• If the tool blinks and beeps continuously, you have a calibration error. Try scanning the wall again, but start in a different location.

• Use DeepScan® mode only if you need it. Using this feature on a regular thickness wall will cause the unit to read studs a bit too wide. It also disables the calibration error feature.

• The battery compartment cover is also the belt clip. It is intentionally tight so it won't accidentally pop open during normal usage.


#2: Mapping the Wall

We recommend "mapping" any wall you're going to work on, which means plotting several studs at multiple heights, even if you're only looking for one stud. Why? Because you want to make sure the "stud" you found is actually a stud.

Every wall is different. If your wall only had studs behind it, then you wouldn't need to map anything - you could mark the studs and finish your home improvement or decorating job. Unfortunately, some walls look like this on the inside:

behind walldiagonal

All stud finders are density detectors, and will locate any dense item (not just a stud) behind walls. This means they can also pick up on pipes, wires, conduit, plaster "keys" in lath and plaster walls, etc. You can also have structural features like double and triple studs, and the rare (but troublesome) diagonal support beam.

We recommend placing two or more strips of masking or painter's tape at different heights on your wall, and marking all objects on the tape rather than your wall. This way, you can determine which objects run straight up and down (usually indicating studs - pipes and wires frequently change direction) measure the distance between those objects (studs are spaced at even intervals, 18 or 24 inches apart - while other objects are in irregular locations).

#3: Why Calibration is So Important

The first thing we're likely to mention is "Make sure the StudSensor tool is calibrated." You're probably wondering why that's so important, or why you can't just turn on the tool and use it?

If all walls were built the same, it would actually be that easy. Unfortunately, every single wall is a different combination of wood types, drywall thicknesses, paint coatings, and so on. In order for a stud finder to see through a wall and determine where a stud is, it has to know what the wall "looks" like to its sensors in order to differentiate the stud. Calibrating the StudSensor stud finder on an empty wall gives the device a chance to measure the wall thickness and material density, as well as register factors like humidity, temperature, and even the minor electric readings from your hand, which all have an impact on the readings from the wall.

Zircon® stud finders are incredibly sensitive, which makes sure you get the most accurate reading when scanning for a stud. However, this also means that changes in the surface, ambient moisture, a buildup of static electricity or even re-positioning your hand on the StudSensor tool can interfere with the readings. Don't worry, though; if you follow the instructions for use, rest assured you're getting spot-on results.

#4: How to use our Center Finder Tools

MultiScanner® and StudSensor tools with CenterVision® technology find the center of wood or metal studs and joists in one easy step. Hold the scanner against the wall, turn it on, wait a moment for the calibration beep and move it slowly along the wall until the SpotLite® Pointing System light illuminates the stud center. It couldn't be easier!

Thanks to CenterVision® technology, novice users get it right the first time and experienced pros get it done faster than ever.

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#5: How to Use Our Edge Finder Tools

When you're trying to find a stud for nailing, drilling or anchoring, what you really need to find is the center. By using our products properly and taking advantage of the "Dual Scan and Mark Procedure", you'll know you're getting accurate results. Damaged walls filled with stray holes are now a concern of the past.
 Hold the StudSensor flat against the wall.

1. Hold the StudSensor stud finder flat against the wall. Make sure you keep the sensing surface flush with the wall at all times to prevent false readings.

TruCal light

2. Turn on your StudSensor tool by pressing the button on the side. It will flash for a moment while calibrating to the density of your wall.

Slowly slide your StudSensor to the right or left.

3. Slowly slide the tool to the right or left. If the tool starts beeping and flashing, you inadvertently turned it on over a stud. This "Over-the-Stud Warning" prevents a bad calibration that may lead to inaccurate results. Just move a few inches to the right or left and start over at step one.

Mark the stud edge.

4. As you slide it across the wall, your StudSensorstud finder will indicate when you find a stud edge. Mark this spot.

How your StudSensor tool indicates this will vary by model:

  • iSensor® stud finder - One indicator light.
  • Standard StudSensor stud finders - An array of LEDs convey proximity. An audible tone will indicate the edge.
  • SL models - SpotLight® Pointing System, as illustrated here.
Start again from the opposite direction

5. Start again from the opposite direction.

Find and mark the other edge of the stud.

6. Find and mark the other edge of the stud. Take your time so that you don't miss it.

The spot halfway between your two marks is your center.

7. The spot halfway between your two marks is your center. That's it, you're done.

#6: Minimizing False Positives

Is the stud you found really a stud?

• To properly use a stud finder, scan your work area thoroughly and mark the location of every object indicated by the stud finder. Stud finders work by sensing density changes behind the wall, and other objects can be indicated, especially if they are very close to the wall. Do not assume everything is a stud.

• Studs are normally spaced 16 or 24 inches apart, not at odd intervals.

• Studs normally run from floor to ceiling, except above and below windows, and above doors.

• Scan for studs at several different heights on the wall. Pipes and other objects will likely not give consistent readings from floor to ceiling, like a stud would.

• You can switch to metal mode (if it is available on your tool) and scan vertically (up and down) to confirm that the target you've found is a stud:

  • If you get a constant metal reading from floor to ceiling, what you found may be a metal stud or metal pipe. A metal signal that suddenly stops or turns 90 degrees to the left or right is most likely a pipe. A metal pipe should also indicate a width of less than the standard stud (normally 1 1/2 inches wide) when you scan it in Stud Scan mode.
  • If you get some metal readings in regular increments from floor to ceiling, then you have found a wood stud with drywall screws.
  • If you get no metal readings at all while scanning vertically, the object may be plastic pipe or conduit.

• Studs are normally 1 1/2" (38 mm) wide, but humidity and different wall materials may cause studs to be indicated in a different width. However, all of the studs should be consistent in width, and anything that is indicated differently from all your studs is probably not a stud.

• Always scan the surface using regular Stud Scan mode first. If you don't find anything, then switch to DeepScan® mode. Use extra caution to confirm that you are finding studs and not something else when using DeepScan® mode.

• Be aware of walls that are likely to contain plumbing. For example, a living room wall may be common to a bathroom and contain plumbing for the sink, shower, or toilet.

#7: How to Find Metal and Live AC

Finding Metal and AC with Interactive Calibration

Figure 1

Both metal and AC scanning features on our tools have interactive calibration, which means you can customize the sensitivity of the tool depending on how difficult your target is to locate. If the target is deep within the wall, you want to calibrate the tool to make it as sensitive as possible so it will successfully find it. However, if the target is larger or closer to the surface, the maximum sensitivity will return a huge target "zone" around the actual location, and you can follow the steps below to narrow the search and locate the object you're looking for.

For maximum sensitivity when searching for metal or AC, calibrate the tool in the air. Switch the tool to metal scanning or AC mode (depending which one you're looking for), hold it away from the wall, turn the tool on and wait for the calibration to complete, and then put it against the wall and start scanning.



Figure 2

When you approach a metal object or live AC wire, the number of bars on the display will increase, and if the reading is particularly strong, there will be an audio tone and the SpotLite® Pointing System will light up. (Fig. 1) This does not necessarily mean you're right over the target; if the tool is overly sensitive, it could detect the object from several inches away. Mark the point where you first got the strongest reading (indicated by the most bars on the screen or the tool's alert system), then continue moving the tool across the wall in the same direction until the alert goes off or the bars diminish. Reverse direction until you get a strong reading or an alert again, and mark that second spot.

What you now have are two marks indicating the edges of a "zone" around your target. The metal or AC object is between the two marks, but if you want to get more precise, you can re-calibrate the tool to narrow down the location.



Figure 3

Place the tool on the wall, over one of the marks you made, and turn it on. (Fig. 2) Now the tool has calibrated closer to the metal object or AC wire, so it's going to be more selective in scanning, and therefore more accurate about the location. Repeating the same steps from the first scan, move the tool across the wall towards the center of the "zone", mark where the tool turns on the alert, keep moving the tool, and mark again where the alert goes off. You will now have a second, smaller target zone, with the metal object or AC wire in the middle. (Fig. 3)

You can repeat the steps above as many times as you'd like to narrow down the location. The closer the tool is calibrated to a metal or AC object, the more selective (more accurate) it will be in finding it.

Choosing a metal scanning tool

Metal items

If you need one tool to search for both wood studs and metal objects, try one of our MultiScanner® tools. These powerful devices include a dedicated Metal Scan mode and will locate ferrous (magnetic) metals up to 3 inches (76 mm) deep. This includes rebar, steel pipes, joist hangers and stud protector plates.

For those times when you need something more powerful, give one of our dedicated MetalliScanner® tools a try. These devices focus only on metal and increase the range up to 6 inches.

With a Zircon® metal scanner you can:

  • Find rebar in concrete
  • Locate nails fastening wood lath to studs in lath and plaster construction (when metal mesh is not present)
  • Differentiate between wood studs and metal studs
  • Find metal objects in reclaimed wood
  • Find ventilation ducts
  • Find stud protector plates
  • Locate nails and screws
  • Find metal conduit
  • Find water and gas pipes