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The first stud finders used magnets to create a magnetic field that could detect the nails or screws that were used to hang the drywall. In fact, I know an experienced contractor who still uses a strong magnet tied to a string to find studs in walls. Newer stud finders use batteries and magnetic plates to detect solid or open areas inside walls. Of course, the original stud finder was operated by tapping a pair of knuckles on a wall until you could detect the hallow or solid areas. Homeowner-quality stud finders cost between $10 and $30, depending on the brand and sensitivity. Knuckle systems are free, unless you have arthritis! More advanced detection units use Ultra Wide Band Radar to detect wiring, pipes and reinforcement inside walls. These units cost $500 Skip Trace to $800, and they are used mostly by contractors who do renovations of large buildings, such as hotels. If you’re looking for something that’s buried, like the worker in the street was, you could use a metal detector. The hobby versions are advertised for finding jewelry on beaches, but you can also use them to find pipes and other buried objects within certain depth limitations. Now if you really want to know what’s underground or inside a wall, you can use ground-penetrating radar or a construction X-ray machine.
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