Find underground electrical line

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  #1  
Old 03-24-11, 09:37 AM
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Find underground electrical line

Before we bought our house there was an underground line going from the house to a storage/garage. From there, there was an underground line that went from the garage to the stables in the back of the lot. I tore the garage down last year as it hadn't been taken care of an was rotting. I tested the power lines before demo and there was none.

I am fixing the stables for new animals we are getting. I finally found where the wire was going to the stables. I plugged it into an extension cord and tested the power at the stables and it is good.

Now the questions: 1. I need to figure out where the line going to the house ends. If I put the extension cord on it, Is there something that would show me where the underground line is?

2. If not, and I have to run a new line from the breaker box to the line going to the stables....What size line do I need to use? What size breaker should I put in the box? It's about 50-60 feet from the house to the underground line and then that line goes about 100 feet to the stables.

Thanks for the help.
 

Last edited by who922; 03-24-11 at 10:02 AM.
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  #2  
Old 03-24-11, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by who922 View Post
I need to figure out where the line going to the house ends. If I put the extension cord on it, Is there something that would show me where the underground line is?
A utility marking/locating company should be able to find this no problem; check your yellow pages for local guys. They have sensitive metal detectors that can follow it.

What size line do I need to use? What size breaker should I put in the box?
That depends entirely on what kind of electrical loads you intent to run in the outbuilding. Note that there are additional grounding requirements for buildings housing livestock.
 
  #3  
Old 03-24-11, 10:11 AM
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I will just be using lights in the stables. I have an outlet in each building. There will be about 6 lights total with none left on all the time and never all at the same time.

Is there any way I can figure out the underground line on my own? If I have to spend to have someone come in, I will just spend on the materials to run a new line from the breaker box to the line to the stables.

Thanks again
 
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Old 03-24-11, 10:49 AM
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I don't know of any "residential grade" detectors that can pick up underground lines. The stud finder type of detectors sold at Home Depot barely read through 1/2" drywall so there's no hope of reading through 24" of soil. Sometimes you can pick out the general location of a big cable using coat hangers fashioned into dowsing rods but results are limited with a small cable.

It sounds like if you just have very basic electrical needs that you would be fine with a single 20A circuit. This can be installed with 12-2g UF-B cable. If you use a GFCI breaker burial depth is 12" minimum, if you use a standard breaker with GFCI receptacle in the outbuilding minimum burial depth is 24".
 
  #5  
Old 03-24-11, 12:12 PM
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Underground Wire

This should not be that big of a problem. I read you original post to mean that a circuit was run between the house and garage and another circuit from the garage to the stable. Is this correct?

Locate where the circuit leaves the house and at the other end where the circuit entered the garage and use a straight line between the two. Use the same method from the stable to the garage location. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

Was there a sub panel in the garage? Where was it located?
 
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Old 03-24-11, 12:12 PM
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You could try guess and luck. The cable probably runs straight. So draw a line from stable to demoed shed on the most logical path and dig a couple of exploratory ditches starting a few feet on either side perpendicular to the line. If your lucky it might work.
 
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Old 03-24-11, 12:31 PM
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Call Before You Dig. Memorized phone number. Locally it is 811. They come out at no charge and locate all services for you. Just tell them you plan on installing grape arbor posts and don't want to hit the electric or water or gas services. Phone line you'll hit, guaranteed, they do.
 
  #8  
Old 03-24-11, 12:50 PM
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In my area the public marking service Miss Dig (811) only pages out utility company technicians to mark their company's utilities (water, sewer, gas, power company, phone, sometimes CATV) but they do not mark private utilities such as outbuilding feeds. However if you happened to be there when the electric guy showed up and you generously bought him lunch...
 
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Old 03-24-11, 01:41 PM
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...but he might be busy and...
 
  #10  
Old 03-24-11, 02:49 PM
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Busy ?

...but he might be busy and...
Since when is he too busy to eat lunch????
 
  #11  
Old 03-24-11, 03:04 PM
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The initial post was confusing. I read it as the power to the garage/shed and stable was not working and no cable was found when the garage/shed was torn down. Later the cable to the stable WAS found but WHERE was it found? The cable between the house and the garage/shed has NOT been found and we don't even know if it still exists at the house.

My FIRST task would be to find out if the original cable is still connected to the service panel in the house and then trace that cable to the point where it exits the house. From there it most likely follows a straight line to where the garage/shed was. If this is where the cable to the stable was found then the cable from the house should be near by although it IS possible that the line entered the garage/shed on one side and left to the stable on the other side.

At any rate, after finding the cable in the house I would disconnect it and remove it from the panel, cut the cable where it exits the house and (if possible) remove it from the house to underground a short distance. Then I would run a new 10/3 UF (to allow for voltage drop and a second circuit) between the house and stable. Use a 20 ampere 2-pole GFCI to allow shallow bury depth if necessary but I would prefer normal 24 inch depth. Using the the three-wire (with equipment ground) cable and also the #10 size would allow for replacing the circuit breaker to a 30 ampere and installing a small sub-panel in the stable if 240 volts at limited current ever turned out to be needed.
 
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