The worst handyman fail I’ve ever heard about happened to a former colleague who was installing network wiring in a hospital. He drilled through a wall, hit a water pipe, and ended up shutting down two operating rooms for a week.
Relations between him and his client became rather strained. Understandably, they weren’t all that happy having to rip out all the linoleum covering the walls due to the flooding underneath. My friend was covered: he had someone from the hospital’s facilities management team with him who didn’t think that particular wall contained anything important. My friend still got fired, though.
Stud finders have been available for quite some time now, as has the capability of detecting things like live wires and pipes. The trouble with them is that they just don’t work reliably. One of them might have saved my friend’s job, but most DIYers and contractors prefer not to use them; you’re often better off just guessing where the conduits are.
While every home improvement project still involves the risk of screwing up badly (and who among us hasn’t?), it’s certainly worth your while to try limiting the risk of accidentally damaging your plumbing, electrical system, or drywall. Unlike most stud finders, this machine uses radio-frequency sensors and displays its output on your smartphone, making it much easier to find framing studs, wiring, and pipes inside walls.
There’s some bad news for Apple users: this gadget requires Android 5.0 or better and won’t work with iOS. Please check whether your device is compatible before buying.
Also, it’s well worth it to actually read the manual, as the sensor has to go through a self-calibration step before every use. This, along with its three different imaging modes, seems to confuse a lot of people. If you buy this expecting a magical window that allows you to see through solid objects, you’ll probably be disappointed. If, however, you’re willing to spend some time getting to know the Walabot and its limitations, you’ll most likely find this to be a great addition to your toolkit, as it may just end up saving you a ton of trouble and expense.