November 14, 2018
How to Find, Fix and Prevent Wire Breaks in Your Hidden or “Invisible” Fence
DogWatch® Dealers work hard to properly place and protect Hidden Fence boundary wires, and most customers go years without any issues. But wire breaks do happen. They are often the result of outside forces like weather, landscaping and small burrowing animals. Here are some tips to help you identify a wire break, repair the wire and avoid any future disruptions.
First, an Overview of How Hidden or “Invisible” Fences Work
The underground boundary wire is a key component of a DogWatch® Hidden Fence – or any other “invisible fence” for pets. The wire is connected to a transmitter, usually mounted in your basement or your garage. The transmitter sends a harmless, low level radio signal through the boundary wire, which is usually buried two to six inches underground. Your pet wears a special receiver collar that receives the radio signals. If your pet gets too close to the boundary wire, there is an audible alert from the receiver collar. If your pet does not retreat from the boundary, there is a brief static correction from the collar. With training from your DogWatch Dealer, your pet learns to stay away from the alert zone and remain within the designated boundary.
How to Identify a Wire Break in Your Hidden or “Invisible” Fence
If there is a break in the boundary wire, you will hear an alarm coming from your DogWatch transmitter. If there is a wire break, the signal is interrupted and the fence will not work. If you hear this alarm, we recommend contacting your local DogWatch Dealer as soon as possible. He or she can then schedule a time to visit your property, pinpoint the precise location of the wire break and repair the wire. In the meantime, you can turn off or unplug the transmitter, which will turn off the alarm.
The new DogWatch SmartFence® makes it even easier to know if you have a wire break. The SmartFence sends users a text message and/or email alert if the boundary wire is disconnected or broken. The message also includes the local DogWatch Dealer’s phone number so you can easily schedule a service call.
If there is a break in your wire, we recommend keeping your dogs on leash until the break is repaired. Most dogs who have been trained to avoid the boundary area may not notice any difference, at least initially. Still, the risk of your pet leaving the boundary area is heightened when the system is down, so we recommend erring on the side of caution.
How to Fix a Wire Break in Your Hidden or “Invisible” Fence
The easiest way to fix a wire break in your DogWatch Hidden Fence is to call your local DogWatch Dealer. Our Dealers and their installation teams are experienced in fixing wire breaks quickly and thoroughly. They have handheld tools that help them locate the break by scanning the area where the wire was placed, and they have the supplies and knowledge needed to properly repair the wire.
For the D-I-Y types who have experience working with electronics, here are a few tips if you wish to attempt the wire repair on your own.
- Some wire breaks may be visible above the ground, such as when a snow plow pulls up a piece of wire at the edge of a driveway.
- If the break is not immediately visible, try looking at potential trouble spots like gardens that have been recently landscaped or areas where critters have been known to dig or chew.
- If you still cannot spot the break, there are underground wire locator tools available on Amazon, similar to those used by our Dealers.
- After you locate the wire break, you will need to repair it using wire that is rated for underground burial and a waterproof splice. (DogWatch recommends using a 16 gauge or 14 gauge wire.)
- Some DogWatch Dealers have patch kits with wire and splices available for purchase. Give them a call to ask about their D-I-Y repair options.
How to Prevent a Wire Break in Your Hidden or “Invisible” Fence
There are several steps you can take to help avoid wire breaks in your hidden fence. First, if you are planning any professional yard work or outdoor projects, let your contractors know about the buried boundary wire. Common projects that can result in a hidden or invisible fence wire break are:
- Lawn aeration
- Edging a lawn or garden
- Tree removal
- Snow plowing
- Sprinkler system installation or maintenance
Before you or your contractors begin this type of work, draw a map of your hidden fence boundary and highlight potential problem areas. Or better yet, temporarily mark where the boundary wire is buried using DogWatch flags or other similar small flags.
If you don’t know where the wire is located, you can trace it using your pet’s receiver collar as a guide. Here’s how:
- Take the collar off your pet and keep him or her inside the house for the duration of the test.
- Go to your transmitter and reduce the range to 1 foot by adjusting the dial on the right. (Range is the distance the signal is being broadcast from each side of the wire. The recommended signal range when the fence is functioning normally is 6-10 feet.)
- Next, walk towards the boundary area holding your pet’s receiver collar in your hand at your dog’s neck level. Keep your hands away from the contact posts.
- When you approach the boundary wire, you will hear the audible tone and the status light on the receiver will blink green. Place a flag at this spot.
- Now walk from the outside toward the wire with collar in hand. When you see the flashing green status light again, mark the spot with another flag. The boundary wire will be between these two flags.
- When you are finished marking the boundary wire, reset the range on your transmitter to the previous setting.
If your yard has an area of heavy traffic that could result in more frequent wire breaks – such as a walkway, paddock or dirt driveway, you can ask your DogWatch Dealer to enclose the wire in a conduit or hose for added protection. Encasing the wire in conduit is also recommended for water installs.
If you have any questions about wire breaks, please contact your local DogWatch Dealer anytime or call DogWatch Customer Service at (800) 793-3436 Mon-Fri, 9AM-5PM EST. We’ve been keeping pets safely contained since 1990, and we look forward to helping your pets enjoy the freedom, too!