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 12-01-2009, 16:28 Post: 167125
bemike61



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any and all electric experts.
is there a way to check a wire that runs from the house to a garage underground for a break. i had service put in may 2008. the 10/3 wire, everything has been fine till 11-29-09. when i checked the panel inside the garage i only had one leg of 220. inside the house at the garage breaker i had 220v. is there a simple way to find if a wire is broken or not and where its broken at.this is underground service that crosses a driveway and sidewalk by the house.
dont know if theres something i can rent or only a electrican would have for this job. i just dont want to dig more than i have too. the guy i used lives in another state.






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 12-01-2009, 17:07 Post: 167127
Murf

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I don't think I understand what you mean by "check a wire", either it's a complete circuit or not.

You say you already know there's only one leg of the 220 working, what more needs to be checked?

Do you mean checking the continuity of the wire, versus say a bad breaker? If so the down'n'dirty method is to just swap a another breaker and see if the problem moves with the breaker.

BTW, you have double checked that the breaker hasn't just tripped but doesn't look like it has right? Flip it all the way off & then back on.


Best of luck.






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 12-01-2009, 17:35 Post: 167129
AlbertaDan



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Quote:
Originally Posted by bemike61 | view 167125
any and all electric experts.is there a way to check a wire that runs from the house to a garage underground for a break. i had service put in may 2008. the 10/3 wire, everything has been fine till 11-29-09. when i checked the panel inside the garage i only had one leg of 220. inside the house at the garage breaker i had 220v. is there a simple way to find if a wire is broken or not and where its broken at.this isunderground service that crosses a driveway and sidewalk by the house.dont know if theres something i can rent or only a electrican would have for this job. i just dont want to dig more than i have too. the guy i used lives in another state.



From your description it sounds like you have a broken "hot" conductor. If you 220V at the breaker feeding the garage but only 120V at the garage then that is the problem.

To find the problem take all the "hot" wires off in both the house and garage. There should be a black wire and a red wire on your breaker that feeds the garage. Find the bare copper that is in the same cable going to the garage.

Do the house first to prevent a shock.

Join one wire at a time (either black or red) to the bare copper. Once one wire is connected to the bare copper go out to the garage and use an OHM meter (Usually looks like an upside down horseshoe on the meter). touch one lead to the bare copper and one lead to the color you had just connected inside the house. If your meter needle moves or your hear a beep (depending on your meter) that wire is good.

Repeat the process with the other colored wire and you will find which one is broken.When the needle stops moving or you no longer hear the beep you have found your broken wire.

Just remember when you are doing this in the house the panel is live so no mistakes are allowed. Electric shock is potentially fatal.

This usually works best if you have someone to help you. Get them to touch the hot and copper together. When you notice the movement or beep call out to have them separate the wires. Then re-touch to confirm you have the right set of wires.

I'm not an expert but do have apprx 20 yrs as electrician. Hope this helps.






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 12-01-2009, 17:41 Post: 167130
AlbertaDan



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There is a circuit tracer but it usually for finding a circuit in panel. I don't know if it would work for finding a fault underground. Don't know if anyone has ever tried.






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 12-01-2009, 18:53 Post: 167131
Murf

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Maybe it's just me, but that sounds like an incredibly dangerous way to do it, even for someone who can read between the typos and knows a bit about electricity.

A MUCH safer way to do it would be to wire a 220 volt plug to 2 pigtail light sockets with bulbs and just plug it in. If you don't have, and don't want to buy, 2 pigtail sockets, use a split duplex receptacle instead and just plug a trouble lamp or something into one then the other socket.

If both the bulb that doesn't come on is hooked to the bad circuit.

No risk, no guessing, no burning anything down, no meter required.






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 12-01-2009, 19:19 Post: 167132
kthompson



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Well somehow he knows he has only 110 volts so he must have a meter or some other method of checking. If so it should be no problem to know which of the 110 legs is not conducting electricity. Assuming you are able to check and know which wire or leg is an issue do test the breakers as I have seen a breaker that looked good and felt as if it resect but was bad. Also be sure the wires are making good contact under the screw on the breakers.
If you have a cut wire there is a good chance what ever cut it also cut at least another wire enough to expose it to weather and danger. This is a great reason to run conduit and wire inside it for replacement without redigging.

If you know anyone with local phone or electric company ask them if they have method to test buried wire by above ground meter. I think they do.

There are those who will tell you can find it with the old method some used for finding water which can make sense as there is a magnetic field opened if the wire is cut.

The old method I am talking about for this is take like a metal piece of wire and make into a L shape for each hand and walk the wire watching for movement. The name has slipped my memory.






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 12-01-2009, 19:50 Post: 167133
bemike61



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i ll try to type better. i know that i have three wires one black, one white, one black with red stripe. i have pulled off panel cover. i have checked the black and black wire with red stripe at the top of service breaker, before it runs a-c to the other breakers. the screws are tight. when i use a meter from black to white i get 110v, but when i try black with red stripe to white, i get nothing. this in the garage. i did not have time today but inside the house i will switch the black wires on the service breaker to see if that changes the side that i was getting 110v on. i was looking at worse case, that i would have to dig a hole, wanting to repair that spot . did not know if there is a way to trace where a wire is broken.. the wire is in conduit, but there was not much room with three wires and alum ground, if i had to have new wire pulled. thanks for any info






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 12-02-2009, 07:58 Post: 167138
kwschumm



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As for locating where a break is in a wire, in networking a device named a TDR (time domain reflectometer) is used. It sends a signal down the wire. When the signal hits the end of the wire (or break) a reflection is bounced back. The meter measures the time between the original signal transmission and when the reflection is returned and then can tell the distance to the end of the wire (or break).

In principle it seems they would work for typical home wiring too but I don't know that for sure. You might call a few electrical supply stores to see if they have such devices and if they might rent them out.






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 12-02-2009, 10:45 Post: 167142
harvey



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 trouble shooting

I really think Murf hit it in the first post of his. Start with your meter in the house at the source the circuit breakers. Check the breaker the connections then start down the broken wire path.






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 12-02-2009, 12:39 Post: 167143
auerbach



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Any break is likely to be aboveground rather than buried. Otherwise, even if there were an instrument that pinpointed the location of a discontinuity, I'd want to replace the entire line anyway. Electricians charge a decent buck -- and there's a good reason for that.

KT, you were looking for dowsing (using a divining rod).






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Discussion Boards > Active Subjects > Messages as Posted > Electric Forum

Thread 167125 Filter by Poster:
AlbertaDan 3 | AnnBrush 1 | auerbach 1 | bemike61 3 | hardwood 1 | harvey 1 | kthompson 3 | kwschumm 2 | Murf 5 |




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