Metal detectors are useful tools for finding lost and hidden objects, whether it is something you lost yourself or a fun hobby to find cool objects. Like any electronic, metal detectors may give the user some trouble. They are designed to make a beeping noise when passing over metal objects, varying in tone for different metals.
There are situations when your metal detector may be wildly beeping for no apparent reason, which can be frustrating in trying to find metals. Understanding how your metal detector works and analyzing the surrounding environment will help to keep the device functioning properly and diagnose sound and function problems easily when they arise.
Poor-Quality or Low Batteries in Metal Detector
One of the most common issues you will have with a metal detector is related to the batteries. Issues can arise with the type of battery being used when batteries are at low power. Even when unexplainable things occur, changing the batteries may do the trick.
Metal detectors require specific batteries, depending on the model you are using. You should always adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions, or you may face crazy sounds coming from your metal detector. The batteries do not have to be low for these sounds to go off. These beeps can sound quickly in succession, as a long tone, or at low volume.
The most common batteries for metal detectors are alkaline and rechargeable. Most users prefer alkaline for their higher voltage, but also use rechargeable for their long-term cost-saving benefits and less waste (Source: Energy Saving Warehouse). An alkaline voltage will give you more time detecting before replacement than you would get having to recharge the batteries.
Low batteries will almost always trigger a metal detector to makes lots of noise you weren’t expecting. The detector should indicate a low battery on its control panel and may consistently make noise until the batteries are changed.
Presence of Iron Near Metal Detector
Some metal compounds that do not contain much value are found in areas you are using a metal detector and will set the device off. One of the primary culprits for false detector alarms is iron. Iron is a metal that is often found in soil and can make it very difficult to find valuable metals. When you are around iron, your metal detector will likely beep continuously as if you’ve found something in concentrated areas.
There is not much you can do about iron deposits since they are so granular. You may have to look for a new spot where the iron is not as concentrated. You may also find a similar mineral, iron oxide, in many natural settings.
This mineral takes on a reddish tint with the reaction of metal and oxygen (Source: Science Direct). It often appears in pink and red hues and is found in natural clays, rock formations, and even bricks. Your detector may go crazy in areas with iron oxide concentrations, as well.
We recommend turning down the sensitivity settings on your metal detector if you run into these issues. Very high sensitivity settings will be able to detect small metals, but this may be a disservice when irons and iron oxides are common in the area you are metal detecting in (Source: Mettler Toledo).
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Metal Detector Swinging Technique
How you operate the metal detector may also be the cause of crazy sounds or behaviors. You should be using your detector carefully with slow and careful movements to achieve the best results.
These are the following things you should NOT do as they may cause unwanted beeping:
- Don’t allow contact with the ground: The most effective way to use your metal detector is to hover closely over the ground. This will help to more accurately identify valuable metals and prevent outside signals from being picked up. The detector mustn’t hit the ground as you move, as this can damage the device or lead to unwanted beeping.
- Using large pendulum swinging motions: You may get false alarms when you swing the metal detector in large motions or too quickly. Keep the device steady for the greatest accuracy.
- You are too close to other metal detectors: If you go out with a buddy, make sure they are not too close to you. The signals and presence of metal on the other device may be triggering your detector randomly.
If you are careful and deliberate in your movements, the metal detector will be able to work more efficiently and avoid making unnecessary noises. This can be distracting, frustrating, and waste time you could be spending looking for exciting stuff!
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Radio Signals or Magnetic Interference with Metal Detector
While metal detectors vary in their technology, they most commonly operate with a coil that creates a magnetic field when combined with electricity (Source: Explain That Stuff). This magnetic energy allows the detector to create a signal with hidden metals and trigger the detector to notify you.
In fairly uncommon cases, you may notice that your detector goes off when there are large radio towers or power lines nearby. You may notice that the detector frequently signals when you are under or near power lines that have high voltages. The most common communication problem you’ll have is being around other metal detectors. This will allow both to “talk” to each other in the form of beeping when there is no other metal present.
Electromagnetic interference may also have to do with the configuration of the coil to the control box. This is a larger issue as it points to connection problems within the metal detector itself. If you are confronted with consistent false beeping, and there are no other explanations, you should examine the coil and its connection to the box.
In most cases, you can do the following to ensure the connection is strong:
- Unplug coil: You will want to unplug the coil. This could just be a loose connection that needs to be reinserted.
- Clean and dry control box: While unplugged, make sure everything is clean in the control box. Moisture could also be responsible for false alarms. You should dry the area before plugging anything back in.
- Plug tightly: After addressing the control box, reattach the plug tightly into its portal. This should stop unwanted signaling and ensure that the coil is securely in place.
- Reset or battery change: If these do not fix the problem, you can try a factory reset on the device or change the batteries (Often, a battery change will do the trick).
Metal Elements On or Near You with Metal Detectors
You may notice that a metal detector catches your attention when you have metal on your person. For best metal detection results, you will want to make sure that you are not the culprit setting the device off. You may find this to be the cause of the craziness. Fortunately, it is quite avoidable and does not suggest anything wrong with the metal detector.
Make sure that you do not have the following items within the range of the detector:
- Cell phones: These not only have metal to trigger the detector but also have low-powered radio and electrical signals that could interfere with the magnetic field. Electromagnetic fields are found in cell phones and are largely responsible for their operation (Source: Frontiers in Public Health).
- Metal shoes: We recommend not wearing steel-toed boots, accented sandals, or any other shoe that has metal. Because they are close to the detector, these shoes may set it off your entire trip.
- Other tools: If you are in an area with metal tools on the ground, such as a shovel, this may also make the metal detector go off wildly. You will want to keep this out of the area you are scanning.
Keeping Your Metal Detector Calm
If you find your metal detector will not stop making noise, even when you are not near metal, you should troubleshoot your device with the mentioned solutions. Metal detectors can be finicky at times, so make sure your batteries are charged, your coil connections are strong, and you have eliminated any interfering elements that may cause you to miss out on a fantastic find!
If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them in the comments section below. Until next time Happy Treasure Hunting!
Cory Haasnoot is an author, entrepreneur, metal detecting enthusiast, antique, coin collector, and founder of Treasure Seekr.