Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit

Returns covered by the Sheetrock

My buddy a GC just called me, He suspects that a return was covered by the sheetrock guys, (on ac job that I was not involved with) Is there any way to find it now?! (yes the hvac installer has no layout plan), Can't follow the trunk cause it's all covered (finished basement), Does anyone have a way to know if or where a return would be laying concealed?

I was thinking maybe a infrared camera?

Thank you all....


  • Techman
    Techman Member Posts: 2,144
    edited June 2014

    KindaSorta,the return should be somewhere over there.! Wall return,  hi/low, ceiling? Have fan running , drill a SMALL hole in sheetrock and see which way the dust goes, woops ! TinKnocker's are not around? Can you look at another similar house the TK's did and compare?
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited June 2014
    See Snakes:

    Those $100,00 Ryobi See Snakes or the other more expensive ones can be your best friend when looking behind walls.

    The GC should be telling the rockers to rock their @$$'S back there and find it. Their dime.

    When I roughed in houses, I used to rough my copper and PVC waste so that you couldn't kick it out of the way because of misplaced holes. If they tried, it broke their foot. It was cheaper to do that than to come back and fix the pipes or find them. I used to buy electrical wire plates rather then the cheap thin ones that my plumbing wholesaler sold. Drywall screws went right through them without slowing down.

    Anything you do to help the least common denominator on a job (Rock Installers) will come back to bite you in the butt.

    If it is a metal outlet, electricians have wonderful tools for finding things. They have boxes covered up so often. If it IS metal, go to McMaster-Carr and look for the biggest Al-nickel magnet you can find. Slide it along the rock. If it comes up to the metal behind the wall, it will RIP out of your hand.

    Like looking for metal studs behind a wall.

    Like these. You will never believe how cheap these are and how hard they pull.
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,264
    edited June 2014
    Baseboard Trim

      Assuming this is a basement type job; I would remove the baseboard trim and probe the wall floor juncture at a 45 degree angle with thin screwdriver.  The floor plate would be missing.  After finding the stud space (s) with no floor plate I would then use a stud locator to determine if a horizontal fire stop is located anywhere in that cavity determining if it is a hi or low return.

    Also if there is any thickness to the carpet, it would hide an 1/8" hole drilled at the 45 angle where the base board sits on the floor.  But I would slip a 1/4" tubing depth stop over the bit so the drill would only penetrate thru trim, rock and maybe 1/2" of plate to avoid wires etc. Then the magic wire coat hanger probe would find the missing floor plate.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Finders Keepers:

    If the missing opening has a vertical stud cut out and headed off, a Stud Finder will work. A decent one. Like an expensive Greenlee one.

    I still say that the one who covered it up, should be the one looking for it. He/she-they created it. They should be paying to find it. Was it in their contract that they would cover up and bury things and the Contractor and Sub's would be responsible to locate and repair the mess?

    I'll bet that the person that had the higher bid wouldn't have covered up the outlet.

    When the least common denominator gets the job, anything goes. There's nothing like the shortcut of hunt and cut for pipes coming through a wall. If the holes they cut in the wallboard don't line up, just kick the pipe over until it does. That dead beat plumber can't even run his pipes out of a wall straight and level.

    Well Bozo, they were until you and your traveling circus came on the job.

    My other favorite is everyone running their water pipes up through the floor rather than through the wall. Then, the clowns on stilts flopped their big stilt shoes on the pipe and bent it under the floor.  But like little kids, no one did it so it must have been someone else. Like the story about the kids who come home from school and eat the blueberry pie made for dinner. Mother comes home and asks "Who ate the blueberry pie?" NOT US the children say. With blueberry pie all over their faces.  
  • RobG
    RobG Member Posts: 1,850
    A friend

    A Friend of mine who owns a drywall company walks the home prior to install to do his takeoff. He uses marking paint on the floor to mark where every outlet, recessed light, duct, multimedia.... As a smart company owner he does not trust his guys with his reputation. He walks every job himself after completion but before point up. He always has a drywall saw in his back pocket (he is not the low bidder) but he always has work.

  • NYplumber
    NYplumber Member Posts: 503
    IR Cam

    I bet if you turn on the system and look at the walls through an iR camera you may see a difference where the sheetrock is cooler due to convection.

    If there is baseboard heat, heat the house to 80-85 degrees till the walls absorb the heat, and then turn on the AC and see where the sheetrock cools off rapidly.

    Keep us posted Mr. NJ Designer.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Mark out/up:

    Your friend must be sought after with the quality output crowd.

    At the bottom of the list (if he even makes the list) among the price conscious crowd. Like the lowest bid gang.

    You know the type. Four prices for around $20,000 for the whole job, and the fifth is for $10,000. And there's $14,000 worth of materials needed to do the job. The contractor hires the $10,000 guy, gives him $7,000 and when he can't produce, fires him and gets someone else to come in and finish. For $5,000. The Contractor just put an extra $8,000 in his pocket and makes everyone wait for their money. On top of the Overhead & Profit he had in the $20,000.

    I don't miss that crap for a moment.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Ultrasonic or metal detecting stud finder

    will usually find the sheetmetal if it is close to the drywall.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Ultra Sonic stud finders:

    I've owned a few of those. I rate them with my dowsing rods. As long as I believe they don't work, I could find water.

    M house in Florida is all steel studded in the inside walls. My expensive Greenlee and Zircon locaters get all kinds of Ghost Studs, The maintenance guy here gave me a little magnet the size of a dime. You run it along the sheetrock on the end of your finger. When it gets near any metal, it JUMPS right off your finger and stops where the metal is. That's why I suggested the magnet. I also had a big flat magnet with a big screw eye on it with a piece of rope. For retrieving tools that fell in places I couldn't get to.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    IR Cams/ IR Thermometers:

    IR Cameras will work. If you don't own one, IR thermometers are now down to cheap. They will work. I've mapped out radiant ceiling hot water coils with one while standing on the floor 12' below.

    Whatever works.
Sign In or Register to comment.


It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!