Metal detectors are supposed to beep – when they come across a target. If your metal detector is beeping a lot or irregularly, something needs attention. How do I keep my metal detector from going off? Here’s what to do.
The most common reasons your metal detector beeps too often are:
- Low batteries
- Moisture in cable connections or control box
- Bad coil
- Mineralized Soil
- Electromagnetic Interference (EMI)
- Improper swing
- Metal in your footwear
- Swinging too near your shovel, pick, etc.
- Too near another detector
- Improperly-set sensitivity
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Do you ever think “Why is my metal detector acting crazy?”
We all run across these problems from time to time and need to do some troubleshooting. Here are the details behind the above list, plus a few more items to consider if metal detector false signals and incessant beeping are a problem.
Solution: Replace the batteries.
You’re familiar with the low battery warning on your smartphone, smoke detectors, and CO detectors. Not all metal detectors have a “low battery” warning. Instead, your clue will be unusual beeping that doesn’t seem right, especially if it’s been a while since you changed batteries.
Oh, and if your metal detector won’t beep at all, it’s very likely that the batteries are dead.
Your mileage may vary, but it’s common to hear metal detector batteries lasting 20-30 hours. That’s good for a number of outings. So if you detector starts beeping after several trips, suspect low batteries.
Detectors use a range of batteries depending on the model. Check your manual for the recommended battery to use. Typically you’ll see AA, 9 volt, Lithium Ion, Nickel-Metal Hydride, and Nickel-Cadmium. Many detectors use AA while higher end units have model-specific battery packs.
Common mistake: putting the batteries in backwards when you replace them. Don’t be that person.
Reset: If the manual suggests it, reset your detector after replacing the batteries
Tip: You may be able to extend battery life by using a headset instead of the speakers. Also, try taking the batteries out of the detector in between uses. Finally, when replacing batteries, don’t mix types or old/new; you won’t get the longest life from them.
Moisture (and Heat) Issues
Solution (Moisture): Disconnect and dry out connectors on cables and between components.
Moisture is a problem for electrical equipment and circuits. If you’re detecting in extremely humid areas including fog, you may be getting moisture in connectors or control box components. Of course, having dropped your detector near (or in) water could cause a problem, too.
Solution (Heat): In high heat areas the coil transmitter can get overheated and you’ll get “phantom” beeping. Place the unit in the shade for awhile, if waterproof you can submerge it for a short while to see if that helps. Basically do anything that cools it without harming the detector.
Solution: Unplug the coil from the control box, clean dust or water from the connection, and plug it back in. One rare case could be failure of the coil’s waterproof case or sealant. If you’ve tried everything else, inspect the coil and see if there are any cracks or gaps in the case or epoxy/sealant. Also, if you have another search coil, replace the one you started with and see if the beeping stops.
- If those steps don’t work, eliminate more likely problems first. It’s fairly rare, but quite possibly the coil has failed.
Solution: Ground Balance adjustment
Soils that contains a higher than average concertation of iron and minerals can cause your detector to alert erratically. Here’s more information for you on mineralized soil and ground balancing.
Depending on the model you have, ground balancing is either done manually or through an automatic setting.
Related: Red clay or even bricks buried in the ground! The red color in clay and bricks comes from minerals like iron.
Electromagnetic Interference (EMI)
- Quick check by moving cables and connectors to see if there’s an intermittent short or other condition causing the beeping.
- Suspect EMI. Check the area you’re in. Since your detector coil (and even the detector circuitry itself) is a form of antenna, any nearby electromagnetic emissions can confuse or overwhelm the detector and cause unusual beeping. Check for:
- Cell Phones
- Power lines (even buried ones)
- Another detector (possibly your pinpointer)
- LED bulbs
- Wireless and Bluetooth signals
- TV and radio transmitters
- Electric motors
- Microwave ovens and some radar systems
- Two-way radio
- Car and motorcycle alternators
- Try running your coil cable straight up the shaft about a foot before wrapping it. This could alter the “antenna effect” of the cable.
- Try relocating a necessary distance away.
EMI can be a tough nut to crack, but it’s an issue that’s not going away.
Keep track of your treasure finds! Here’s a handy logbook on Amazon that you can use
Swinging Your Detector Near Tools or Other Metal
Solution: Look around you. If there are metal tools like shovels, picks, magnets, backpacks, etc. those are likely culprits. In rare cases, your watch or jewelry may be causing beeping issues. Move/remove you/them!
Solution: Keep the detector coil parallel and within an inch or so of the ground. Don’t scrape it over the ground or bump the ground. Rather use a flat arc motion. If in wet grass, it’s possible to build up static electricity and cause beeping.
Metal in Footwear
Solution: Make sure not to bring your detector too close to footwear if it has steel toes or other metal features like larger eyelets. Also, try removing anything you may have hanging off the boot like small carabiners, etc.
Too Near Other Detectors
Solution: Increase distance from sources. You may have a pinpointer or another metal detector laying on the ground that’s causing metal detector false signals. If you’re metal detecting with friends, stay a good distance apart. It varies, but shoot for at least 20 feet.
Improperly Set Sensitivity
Solution: Try adjusting sensitivity to a lower (less sensitive) setting.
Sensitivity should not be left at maximum. You don’t always need to “hear” everything you detectors comes across. Adjust it for varying conditions like ground mineralization, EMI sources, and groupings of junk metal. You might lose some depth capability but the trade off in noise reduction (“chatter”) that could cause you to skip over good targets is worth it.
Other Troubleshooting Considerations
- Opening the detector control box may void you warranty. Check the manual for remedies you have if the detector is still under warranty.
- If you attempt to make corrections yourself, use the proper tools and take your time.
- YouTube has a ton of repair information, but make sure it really applies to your detector so you don’t head in the wrong direction.
Have fun on your outing, and click here for my FREE Metal Detecting PDF Checklist!
Here are some of my favorite metal detecting tools and accessories:
Even if you’re only using your phone metal detecting app, you still need some basic tools and accessories to dig up what you found. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to purchase any of them, I’ll earn a small commission. These are the basic tools I would recommend to anyone who’s interested in the hobby.
Sand Scoop – if you’re doing any beach metal detecting, you need a sand scoop! It’s way better than a shovel and you can find well-built models with a handle or without one. A sand sccop with a long handle is often referred to as a sand scoop shovel.
Pinpointer – Pinpointers will help you home in quickly on target materials that your big detector alerts on. It’s a no-brainer accessory for metal detecting and can be used not only on dry land but most are either partially or fully submersible.
Upgrading from your phone metal detecting app? Here’s a “can’t miss” metal detector choice – I like this model especially because it’s good on land and at the beach, is feature-packed, all from a well-known and respected brand.
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