An invisible fence can be an incredible tool for helping to keep your dog safe and in one place. Unfortunately, though, there are certain things that can stop an invisible fence from working correctly. One of the most annoying is certainly the fact that underground wires can and do break, often even when homeowners take all of the necessary precautions to prevent such problems. As such, it’s vital that anyone who owns an invisible dog fence has at least some idea of how their fences work and what they’ll need to do to ensure that they can get their fences back in working order if they happen to break.
How Invisible Fences Work
Before you start to work on your invisible fence, it’s generally a good idea to stop and figure out how the fence works. Though there are definitely technical issues that you probably don’t need to get into, there are at least some factors that are going to be important for understanding how the fence works.
One of the most important parts of an invisible fence is the underground wire that makes up the fence’s boundary. While there are certainly many different brands of invisible fences on the market, any of them that use the traditional wired components are going to rely on this part to work. In addition to the wire, the fence will make use of a transmitter that’s usually mounted somewhere in your home, which sends a low-frequency radio signal through the wire. The final piece of the product is the receiver, which is usually mounted on your dog’s collar.
These three pieces of the fence work together to help protect your dog. The transmitter sends a radio frequency to the wire, which interacts with the receiver on your dog’s collar. When the receiver approaches the wire, it will give your dog a warning signal. If the dog continues to approach despite the warning, he or she will receive a quick correction to help keep him or her within the boundaries. This can only work, though, if all of the parts of the fence are in working order. That’s why it’s vital that you learn how to repair what parts of it that you can.
Identifying a Broken Wire
The first step in fixing a broken boundary wire is learning how to identify the break. Most of the better invisible fences on the market today will typically sound an alarm when there’s a broken line, which should tell you to bring your pet back inside and to get to work as soon as you can. If you have a warranty on your system, it’s definitely best to have the installers come out and look for a break, but you’ll need to know how to fix the problem on your own if you can.
There are many different fence brands on the market right now, some of which will end up making this process easier than others. There are certain fences that will alert you to more or less where the break occurs, for example, while others will send you a text message any time that there is damage.
The most important thing you can do when you find out about a wire break is to bring your dogs back to a safe place. While there are definitely many dogs who are well-trained enough that they won’t try to cross the boundary lines even when the system is off, it’s always smarter to keep your pet as safe as possible.
Fixing a Broken Wire in an Invisible Fence
There are two options for anyone that wants to fix a wire break in an invisible fence. The first is probably the easiest, but it’s also the most costly. You can absolutely call out a professional to come to fix any wire break that you have. If you have your fence installed by a professional, there’s even a chance that your fence might be under warranty and that they’ll be able to get the job done without charging you anything. Even if you do have to pay something, this might be the best bet for those who aren’t looking to take on a DIY job at the moment.
With that said, there are many people who would prefer to fix their own invisible fences. Whether it’s because of cost or convenience, these people eschew working with installers and tend to fix their own problems. The good news is that this job probably isn’t outside the realm of possibility for most homeowners.
The good news is that some of the wire breaks that occur are fairly easy to spot. Breaks might occur near a driveway or sidewalk, for example, and you’ll be able to spot them right away. The bad news, though, is that most breaks aren’t going to be nearly as easy to spot. You’ll need to look around your property for areas that might be problem spots – gardens are a good culprit, as are any areas where you know animals dig. Check around trees as well, as growing roots can cause problems.
If you can’t visually locate the wire break, you’ll need to buy an underground wire locator tool. These tools are very easy to use and can be bought both online and at big box hardware stores, so don’t be afraid to make a purchase. The good news is that you will probably get a lot of use out of this tool over the years.
Once you find the place where the wire has broken, you’ll need to splice in the right kind of wire to repair the break. It’s generally recommended that you use a 16-gauge wire for this task, specifically one that’s rated to be buried underground and that’s waterproof. You may actually be able to pick up a patch kit from your invisible fence dealer, but even if you can’t you can purchase the wire on your own and create your own splice.
Preventing Wire Breaks in Invisible Fences
As you might imagine, the best-case scenario never involves wire repairs at all. Instead, you’ll want to take steps to make sure that you minimize the possibility of wire breaks occurring at all. Doing so usually means not only paying attention to where your wires are buried but making sure that you tell anyone working in your yard that there are wires present.
So, what kind of jobs can break a fence wire? Aeration is a big culprit, as is tree removal. Edging your lawn can cause problems if your wires are above ground, though, as can shoveling snow. Bigger projects like installing sprinkler systems or building a deck can also cause issues, so make sure that you inform anyone who is working on your lawn as to where those wires can be found.
The biggest problems you’ll encounter will come when you don’t know exactly where to find the boundary wire. While this is the easiest enough job if you have your wire finding tool, you can actually use the receiver collar for the same job.
This method of finding a wire is very simple. Start by taking your dog inside and taking off his or her receiver collar. As you can imagine, you probably don’t want to keep the collar on the dog for this job! From here, you’ll change your transmitter range to one foot, which will let you get within a foot of the wire before you start to get any reaction from the collar. Now you’ll just walk in your backyard holding the collar roughly at the level of your dog’s neck. As you get closer to the wire, you’ll hear the correction tone play— this will tell you exactly where the wire is located. Drop a flag or marker so you know where the wire starts.
Once you have an idea of where the wire is located, keeping walking along a straight line until you no longer get a signal. Drop a flag at that point, and then walk in another direction to see if you get a signal from the receiver. You can follow this same process to walk out the length of your invisible fence and mark out exactly where it is located. If you don’t want to leave your markers permanently, make sure that you do this job every time you know someone is going to be working anywhere near the wires to prevent unwanted breakages.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do you repair a broken invisible fence?
It depends on what part of the fence is broken. If the wire is broken, it’s actually fairly easy to fix the problem. First, bring your pets inside and turn off the transmitter. Then, look for the place where the wire is broken— if you can’t identify the spot, use an underground wire finder to locate the break. Once that’s done, you’ll splice in some properly-rated 16-gauge wire in order to fix the problem.
2. Can invisible fence wire be repaired?
Invisible fence wire can be repaired. This is routinely done by invisible fence installers and the process is actually fairly easy for anyone who has worked with wires before. All you’ll need to fix the problem is some underground-rated and waterproof 14 or 16-gauge wire. Once you have the right wire, you can find the spot where the wire has broken and you’ll be able to splice in the new wire in order to repair your wire break.
3. Can you splice invisible fence wire?
Yes, you can fix an invisible fence by splicing in an unbroken wire. In fact, there are many invisible fence companies that sell invisible fence wire splicing kits just for this purpose. If you don’t have one of these kits, though, you should make sure that you purchase a 14 or 16-gauge wire that’s not only rated to be used underground, but that’s also waterproof. This will help you to avoid future problems with your fence and it should help you to ensure that any work you do to splice in a new wire will last long enough for the job to be worth your effort.
4. Why is my invisible fence unit beeping?
The most common reason why an invisible fence transmitter unit will be beeping is that there is a break somewhere in the wire. While there are some modern units that will actually inform you about this through text, a simple alarm is still the most common way to alert a fence owner. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the owner’s manual of your invisible fence, though, as some units have multiple types of alarms, and knowing exactly what sounds your transmitter is making or what color lights are flashing can tell you a fair bit about what problem you are facing.