Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 17

Thread: using a metal detector to find power line?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    just south of the LA/MS border off of I-55
    Posts
    445

    using a metal detector to find power line?

    I need to locate a buried electric wire going from my house to barn. Only about a foot deep and I have the end uncovered to follow it. I can turn the power off or on, whichever works better. I have a general purpose metal detector that I borrowed from a neighbor who hasn't used it much himself.

    That's the good news, bad news is the thing seems to beep at random and never particularly when it is over the electrical wire. Will it detect the plastic clad wire? Should the power be off or own for best results? I seem to have a bad spot in the wire but don't want to have to dig up over 120 feet of wire to find the bad spot.

    Thanks for any help or suggestions where to find help!

    Hu

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Spring Hill Kansas
    Posts
    16
    Most "general purpose" metal detectors will only go down 2 to 3 inches into soil Hu. You might stop in Home Depot or Lowes and see if they have something that will penetrate deeper like what a gas line company uses to find pipe perhaps?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Southeast Pa
    Posts
    2,019
    Something like this "Might" be more effective. Metal detectors unless really high end have a pretty limited range and copper is tougher than ferrous materials. At least that is my understanding but I am no expert on the subject' I know the phone and cable company's can check for cables before digging so there must be some way to do it.

    http://www.amazon.com/Underground-Lo.../dp/B0086GE2C2

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    just south of the LA/MS border off of I-55
    Posts
    445
    One of the minor handicaps of living in the boonies, my nearest lowes is thirty miles one way, nearest home depot forty in the opposite direction or sixty in the same direction! I tried my "local" rent all place fifteen miles away, they don't rent any metal detectors.

    I have watched the pro's finding lines and they use an entirely different type of detector, no idea how accurate it is but they seem to make it work using it every day, no doubt a part of it.

    The Amazon link isn't working for me but the long version of a short story is it looks like I start digging on over a hundred and twenty feet of line until I find the bad spot. It isn't in conduit and I have to go easy so I don't have many more bad spots!

    Ah well, back to the shovel.

    Hu

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Reno NV
    Posts
    13,360
    Quote Originally Posted by hu lowery View Post
    That's the good news, bad news is the thing seems to beep at random and never particularly when it is over the electrical wire.
    Sounds like you might as well as give dowsing a try!

    You'll probably want copper for electrical lines.
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Yorktown, Virginia
    Posts
    5,011
    I wouldn't dig up the whole thing. Just dig test holes at quarter distance locations until you find the line. Then turn on the power and use one of those cheap beeping current detectors to narrow down the section the break is in...dig at the mid point of that section and test there, and so on until you only have to dig up a ten foot section. If you have driven over the line lately, maybe look there first

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    just south of the LA/MS border off of I-55
    Posts
    445

    more to the story!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Calver View Post
    I wouldn't dig up the whole thing. Just dig test holes at quarter distance locations until you find the line. Then turn on the power and use one of those cheap beeping current detectors to narrow down the section the break is in...dig at the mid point of that section and test there, and so on until you only have to dig up a ten foot section. If you have driven over the line lately, maybe look there first


    Well,

    This is gonna get kind of painful but there is more to the story, much more! A sophisticated sniffer might find the issue but nothing I have.

    The line curves across an old barn lot from the house to the barn, an old dairy barn. The line is on paired sixty amp breakers at the house, and should carry about fifty amps the distance it is running over the I believe eight gauge wire. Now things start to get interesting. The wire that comes out the ground at the other end is a different type of wire than goes into the ground at the house. No conduit once it is out of sight underground so there is a splice somewhere along the way, almost certainly done by the owner, deceased in the nineties.

    I have 122 volts per leg at the barn, spot on. I don't have any amperage. I can run one of the tiny air compressors with maybe a tenth horse motor or less, a third horse motor doesn't even twitch out of the same receptacle that the small air compressor runs off of. The power in the whole barn is like that including when I ran a new four foot pigtail and twenty amp receptacle on a new breaker from the barn box.

    I don't blow the breakers anywhere and the meter at the house isn't spinning ninety miles an hour which I have seen when there was an electrical leak long ago somewhere else. Another story but yes I have seen an underground electrical leak before. My guess is that there is major corrosion wherever the underground splice is in the present situation. Find the splice and I think I find my headache.

    Without knowing where the cable runs my only options are to dig it up all the way or to dig trenches to find the cable dividing it into a half and then quarters as you suggest. Compounding this is that there is a lot of clay and gravel in this land plus this has been a homesite since probably before the war of northern aggression, no telling what else may be in this ground. I started my trenching from the end near the barn where I hoped the splice was near. Knowing what I have already found around this place I worked my way down the conduit and out to the bare wire. Now I can gently uncover it as I go. Trying to force a shovel through all of the stuff in this ground to cut right angle trenches I am almost certain to damage the unprotected cable with the trenches to divide the cable into sections.

    I never seem to tangle with simple projects with easy solutions!

    Hu

    PS: Brent, I kinda like the dowsing idea! Probably just find oil, there is a bunch under here, not mine though!
    Last edited by hu lowery; 02-06-2015 at 07:36 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
    Posts
    5,320
    Most states/counties have a free "Call before you dig" service that could locate and mark your lines for you. Here in NE Ohio, they'll locate and mark all underground lines - water, sewer, electric, gas, etc. anywhere on your property. Should be worth a call, at least.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Amherst, New Hampshire
    Posts
    10,604
    Sounds like a ton of work Hu. If it wasn't too expensive I'd rent a trencher and run new wire. At least you'd know it was done right and you wouldn't have problems again. If your wire isn't in conduit then it could be close to breaking in several spots from rubbing on the gravel in the ground. It would suck to find the bad spot and have another one happen a few months later.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Roanoke, Illinois
    Posts
    212
    +1 on before you dig. If it were me I would abandon the old, incorrectly installed, wire and do right. Searching for a bad spot you run the risk of cutting the wire again creating yet another opportunity for future failure. In the end you will feel better knowing it's been done correctly and have peace of mind.
    Either you like bacon or you are wrong.

Similar Threads

  1. Gun Metal
    By Les Elm in forum Lathe Project Showcase
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 08-19-2014, 09:23 PM
  2. I'm Looking To Buy a New Metal Cut-Off Saw......
    By Stuart Ablett in forum New Tools
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 04-27-2013, 01:01 AM
  3. Lightning Detector
    By Brent Dowell in forum Off Topic Discussion
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 05-14-2011, 08:45 PM
  4. Metal Detector - Laugh Clown, Laugh
    By glenn bradley in forum Off Topic Discussion
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 03-28-2008, 11:44 PM
  5. Tornado Lure or Earthquake Detector?
    By glenn bradley in forum Off Topic Discussion
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 03-07-2008, 05:33 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •