Finding Studs in Apartment - AVS Forum

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saulfeliz's Avatar saulfeliz
03:43 PM Liked: 10
post #1 of 8
11-11-2012 | Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 2012
Hello Forum,

I'm trying to hang some Elfa dressers and shelving in my new apartment. This is the 3rd apartment I'm hanging these shelves in, and haven't had much issues hanging them before. The problem I'm facing is that my stud finder thinks it finds a stud, and when I drill, it's hollow.

This is a 40+ story building in downtown Manhattan that was converter from an old bank.

When I used my straight-line stud finder with accuscan, the spacing for studs it alerts me make sense. I've tried 4 times, and each time, where I drill where a stud should be, I get hollow.

Any idea what might be going on? Any alternative ways to find studs you can recommend?

Thanks,
Saul
gregzoll's Avatar gregzoll
04:05 PM Liked: 32
post #2 of 8
11-11-2012 | Posts: 2,524
Joined: Jun 2009
They probably used Steel framing when the apartments where made. That is why you probably are not finding anything when drilling. Now of course, they could be 24" on center, not 16". You could check with the city and pull the plans when the building was converted. Now you could get one of these http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002JWUKOS/ref=asc_df_B002JWUKOS2229134?smid=A3IXM9BXZ8K586&tag=nextagusmp0404121-20&linkCode=asn&creative=395105&creativeASIN=B002JWUKOS which would allow you to look inside the walls, to see the material of the framing.
saulfeliz's Avatar saulfeliz
04:32 PM Liked: 10
post #3 of 8
11-11-2012 | Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 2012
Hi Greg,

Thanks for the reply. After some research, it seems that steel is widely used in comercial construction, particularly high rises (which my apartment is). My questions then are,

- Does it mean I have to get a stud finder that looks for metal? My regular wood one wouldn't work?
- For purposes of this question, let's say my dwelling did use steel studs. I still should be able to find them by going by the electrical outlets, no? If I drill right above an electrical outlet, and still don't get anything but hollow, what could do this mean?

Thanks for your help!
gregzoll's Avatar gregzoll
04:57 PM Liked: 32
post #4 of 8
11-11-2012 | Posts: 2,524
Joined: Jun 2009
You could go by where the outlets are. A magnet out of a hard drive may work for finding the studs. Here is a wide range choice of Stud finders http://www.licensedelectrician.com/Store/Metal_Detectors_Stud_Finders.htm This is the Amazon link of the same ones http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_tc_srs_mi_2_1_2581456011?ie=UTF8&qid=1352678176&sr=8-2-tc-srs-mi&node=553280&srs=2581456011
saulfeliz's Avatar saulfeliz
05:18 PM Liked: 10
post #5 of 8
11-11-2012 | Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 2012
Yeah, I already ordered a new magnetic one.

But again, assuming they are steel, if I drill above an outlet, shouldn't I hit a stud?
gregzoll's Avatar gregzoll
05:56 PM Liked: 32
post #6 of 8
11-11-2012 | Posts: 2,524
Joined: Jun 2009
Left or the right of the outlet. Instead of drilling, use a nail and also try measuring from the corner at 16". If you hit the stud with the nail, and it does not go in, it is steel. If it keeps going, it is wood.
saulfeliz's Avatar saulfeliz
06:08 PM Liked: 10
post #7 of 8
11-11-2012 | Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 2012
Tried a 1.5 inch nail on either side of the outlet, and at 16 inches. Went right through without hitting anything. I guess I'll just have to wait for that magnetic stud finder :-/
thanks for your help!
gregzoll's Avatar gregzoll
07:01 PM Liked: 32
post #8 of 8
11-11-2012 | Posts: 2,524
Joined: Jun 2009
Inch and a 1/2 is nothing more than a stick pin. Get a 8 penny or 6 penny nail and try that. When you pull the covers off of light switch outlets, or receptacle boxes, there should be a little space next to the box, that you can probably get an idea which way the box is attached. All of your wiring should be in conduit, so there should not be a problem worry about dealing with Romex.


Even if you cut a small hole in the drywall, if it is gypsum board, you can always patch it. Another trick is the tap method with a hammer. Hollow no stud, dead sound, stud.
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