How to Find Short in Electric Fence

After a poor grounding system, short circuits are the main reason for voltage and power loss in your fence. A short circuit in an electric fence occurs when the fence wires touch an object, such as a metal or wood post, a wire, inside or outside the fence circuit or even grass drains its power. Current escapes(drains) from your fence to the touched object into the ground.

Loose connections also reduce your fence power. Voltage in your fence wires will be reduced up to several kilovolts.

How to Find Short in Electric Fence

The easiest way to check if there is a short in the electric fence is by testing the voltage with a fence tester. There are various types of fence testers available that can show the exact voltage or the voltage range. Test the voltage in the fence & if drops below 5KV or the optimum voltage range specified by the manufacturers.

A fence fault finder is the best short circuit finder tool I’ve ever used. It measures voltage & amperage in the fence and shows the direction of the current flow that helps find the short circuits.

Remember: A normal voltage tester is designed for testing steady current flow but not the pulsing current. Hence you’ll need a fence tester.

Common electric fence short circuit reasons & solutions:

1: Walk around and listen for a popping sound:

This is the basic way to indicate a short circuit in the fence without any tester. Walk along the fence line and listen for a popping/crackling sound. An electric fence wire short-circuited with metal generates a popping(clicking) sound & arcing that are highly visible at night.

2: Inspect damaged wires:

Visually inspect the entire length of the fence. Look for any obvious signs of damage such as broken wires, loose connections, or burned areas. Pay close attention to areas where the fence may have been damaged by animals, weather, or vegetation.

3: Divide and test:

While testing short circuits in a larger fence, divide the length into sections. Keep testing each section separately. This will help you narrow down the area where the short circuit is occurring.

4: Inspect insulators

Insulators are used to prevent the electric wire from touching posts or other conductive materials. Check all the insulators along the fence line. Damaged or cracked insulators can allow the wire to touch a conductive surface, causing a short circuit.

5: Check vegetation and grounding

Inspect the area around the fence for overgrown vegetation. Plants touching the fence wires or ground rods can create a pathway for the electric charge to the ground, causing a short. Clear any vegetation near the fence & the ground rods.

Any loose connection in any part of the fence circuit can also result to increase in resistance & ultimately voltage drop.

6: Inspect underground wiring (if possible):

If the electric fence has underground insulated wires, burrowing animals or machinery can damage these wires, causing a short circuit.

If you’ve installed an electric fence at a large area you must use an electric fence fault/short finder tool to make troubleshooting easier. Below we’ve discussed using some handy tools to detect and locate shorts in our electric fences.

Tools: Find short using an electric fence fault finderhow electric fence fault finder work

An electric fence fault finder is a useful tool to find various faults in your fence, such as short circuits, voltage drops, current leakage(amps), and short circuit direction.

Learn how to use a fence fault finder:

  1. Simply touch the metal part at the top of the fault-finder to the fence wire.
  2. Check the voltage and amperage of each fence strand after a regular interval, such as every 100 feet.
  3. If the fault finder reads below 5KV or below the ideal voltage of the energizer there could be a short circuit. However, the main thing is the amp reading, the higher it is the more severe the short will be.
  4. Follow the directions indicated by the fault finder. As the amperage reading suddenly drops it means that the short circuit has passed behind.
  5. Visually inspect the fence wires for short from that point to the previous point & you’ll get the point of short circuits. For example, fence wires slip from the fence insulator.
  • Fence post insulators are broken, and fence wires touch metal posts or other metal fences.
  • Excessive vegetation load also drains power from fences and can make the fence wire touch each other.
  • Fence Wires touching each other.

Tip: If you carry a portable radio tuned off the station at high volume along fence wires, you can locate current leaks.

Other electric fence voltage tester tools

Another most commonly used electric fence tester is the one that indicates the voltage range via blinking lights. Although it doesn’t give the direction of current flow(short) or exact reading. But it indicates the voltage range in the fence wires that help to identify power drop. Hence if there is a huge voltage drop than usual or the ideal voltage range of your specific energizer, it indicates a short circuit. These testers have a black grounding probe that is attached to a ground component of the fence circuit or is pinched into the ground. Then the metal hook at the tester is touched to the fence wires. The bulb on the tester blinks indicating the voltage range.

Ideally, your fence should have at least 5000V; however, higher is better. If 1000-2000 V drops then the regular voltage in your fence it indicates short circuit in your fence.

Frequently Asked Questions

1: What is a dead short in an electric fence?

Dead short occurs when your fence wires are shorted at a very long distance. When a short-timed voltage pulse reaches the short circuit point, voltage(power) in your fence drops. Due to interference, the current will take longer and can’t power the entire fence, leaving part of it unpowered. Such circuit failure is called a dead short.


Short in the electric fence occurs for several reasons, such as any metal object or wire touching fence wire, broken or lose grounding, loose fence wires touching posts or each other.

You can use several tools to prevent the whole fence inspection. A fault finder makes the fence short-finding task quite easier by locating the current flow and short circuit direction.

If you still find anything difficult, ask us in the comment section.

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