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Detecting underground electrical "open" between house and separate garage

Detecting underground electrical "open" between house and separate garage

Old 01-09-12, 09:40 AM
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Detecting underground electrical "open" between house and separate garage

After buying my house 6 years ago, I had a sprinkler system installed - and believe some underground wiring may have been nicked.

When there is a lot of rain or snowmelt (not small storms or just the sprinkler), my garage electricity shuts down. The power box is on my house. Garage is 50 feet away, off the alley. When I check the garage circuit breaker (in the house box), it has switched to half off position. I reset it and all works.

My overall concern is whether this is going to be a costly fix in which the whole yard needs to be dug up -- just to locate the problem. Or do professionals have a device which can detect the location of the "open".

I have put this off because it doesn't happen frequently -- and I know to just throw the switch. But I may sell or rent the property so need to deal with it.

Thanks for any input.
Old 01-09-12, 10:25 AM
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There are toners that can be used to find underground utilities. They are commonly used by Miss Utility to find underground cables and pipes. not every contractor would have them due to the cost, but you may find someone that does.
Old 01-09-12, 11:24 AM
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is the garage powered through conduit or cable. If conduit you might as last resort tie a string to one end and pull the wires out the other. That way you could physically check them then pull them back in.

From what you write I'm guessing you think it is cable. If it is cable check that they used UF cable not NM-b. You should be able to read the jacket where it enters the garage.
Old 01-15-12, 06:34 PM
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There is a locater that will detect leaking voltage but i have never used 1 and dont know how good they work, i have a under ground locater that cost me $3,500. I have used it so much that in the right moisture conditions i can tell where the rf signal spreads. I have located ground faults before w/this unit. If u know approx. Wher your underground feeder that feeds your garage & where your sprinkler guys intersected w/there ditchline, turn power off to garage try dign it up. B careful w/your shovel if it is direct burial cable ! U mite wanna check w/some tool rental places to c if they mite have 1 of these locaters. If they dont have the leaking voltage det. They will probably have an underground locater,you can use it to locate your garage feeder & then if u seen where the irr. Guys dug there ditch dig carefully there (be sure to turn your power off 2 your garage) if u do find where it is nicked the company ideal sells heat shrink that comes n 4 ft. Sections it has a thick jacket & also contains glue when u use a heat gun to shrink it there is glue inside of the heat shrink this kind of heat shrink is the only kind i will use it works great. Dont use the thin stuff because u will b re-doing it !! If u dont know where the irr. Guys excavated there ditch line cut your losses & just go ahead & replace the feeder. Dont use d.b. Run conduit & pull wire thru it. When u back-fill a ditch utilizing d.b. Cable all it takes is 1 small sharp rock , then u r back n tha same boat !! When u have a g.f. Most of the time it will b consuming power even though u dont have anything on n tha garage. Evedently the irr. Guys skinned a hot & a neutral or equipment ground to get that brkr. 2 trip when its wet. Safety note: B sure to look away from your electric panel when u re-energize that c.b. Having a g.f. Produces a hi amount of fault current. This will protect your eyes just in case !! Good luck fatbuoy

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