How to find buried electrical wire in yard


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Old 09-13-22, 10:54 AM
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How to find buried electrical wire in yard

I need to find a buried 120v power supply. I have access to the switch that controls it in the basement. I put tone on the far end, and found that it goes to a box on the far side of the yard. Now, the line comes out at the end of the driveway, on both sides as far as I can tell. I found out about this when I accidentally hit one of the lights that had been buried. Needless to say, I want to take this opportunity to redo the wiring, add some outlets down by the two pillars, and the mailbox light, but I need to see where it's coming from. How do I find the wire? I'm attaching a crude map. Nothing is to scale. The black lines indicate where the electrical wire is visible. To the right is my neighbor's fence. All the connections seem to be on the same circuit ie the remaining landscape light gets 120, the wire on the left from the landscape light I hit has 120, and the mailbox light all have 120 on them.

 
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Old 09-13-22, 01:05 PM
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Why do you need to find the wire? All the changes you mentioned are at the pillars and mailbox where you can see the wire. Are you going to run a new cable from the house or electrical box?
 
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Old 09-13-22, 06:46 PM
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Find an electrical contractor with locating equipment. We have 3 or 4 sets. I keep one on my truck at all times.
 
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Old 09-13-22, 07:15 PM
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Thanks Tolyn Ironhand. Do you mean an electrician? What kind of locating equipment do you mean?
 
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Old 09-13-22, 07:33 PM
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Yes.... an electrician.

There are many underground locating systems. I use one that looks similar to a metal detector.
Mine is a Klein and was around $300 when I bought it. Used it many times.
Most homeowners don't have a continuous need for one so they call an electrician.

I was looking around online and found the one in the link. It will not work well for cat5/UTP computer cable..... as shown in video. That type of cable is twisted pair and doesn't leak much signal. It will work fine with wiring in PVC conduit as well as UF and sprinkler wiring. For the low price I would give it a try. I may get one to play with.

VX-SCAN underground wire tracer
 
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Old 09-14-22, 04:20 AM
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Ok cool. I ordered one of those. Thanks.
 
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Old 09-14-22, 06:53 AM
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Had some thing similar years ago, but more expensive. Also for use on live cables. Used mainly for IDing breakers. Couldn't find all buried cables; sometimes had to get an EC with a unit that had a more powerful transmitter and mores sensitive receiver.
 
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Old 09-14-22, 02:38 PM
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What kind of locating equipment do you mean?
These are the ones we use: https://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/p/d/b00011068/ They are in the $2000-$3000 range.
 
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Old 09-14-22, 05:26 PM
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I found the other end--as I referenced in the pic above. I plugged in my fluke and got tone--but it quickly goes into the ground in a pipe--I can't see it after that. Hopefully that detector will help
 
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Old 09-14-22, 05:41 PM
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As long as the pipe is plastic it will work.
 
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Old 09-15-22, 06:08 AM
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Hopefully. It's hard walking around in that area b/c of the ivy--I don't need to go that far, I just need to get an idea of where the wires are run. Ultimately I'm probably going to have to put some extra hardware down there so I can turn everything on separately
 
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Old 09-15-22, 06:22 AM
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extra hardware down there so I can turn everything on separately
Years ago I created a very elaborate system of timers, photocells, contactors, relays, and lots of wiring to control various aspects and areas of outdoor lighting including "all on" and an interface to my alarm system. Now almost all of those functions can be achieved with smart switches without having to run extra wires. If your WiFi extends into your yard you may be able to avoid the new hardware.
 
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Old 09-16-22, 06:53 AM
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2john02458; That's my plan. Problem here is that I have no wifi at the end of my driveway. I want to trace this out so I can see how to get ethernet down there. It doesn't have to be good--just good enough. A friend of mine has had a lot of luck with powerline adapters.
 
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Old 09-16-22, 08:20 AM
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I have had great luck with passive repeaters to get around wifi blocking obstructions and high gain antennas to greatly extend wifi range where needed. A high gain antenna aimed at your router in the house would be my first try since they are inexpensive and don't require digging up the yard to run cable.
 
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Old 09-16-22, 11:02 AM
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Look into the X-10 systems.
The communication is carried over the power wiring and you can connect to x-10 thru a smart hub.

x10 powerline products
 
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Old 09-18-22, 10:04 AM
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Success!!

PJMax, that little thing actually works pretty well. I now have to post another thread about re-running the power to where I want it.
 
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Old 09-18-22, 05:12 PM
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Ok dumb question--how would I connect one of these outdoor wires that is in a conduit to connect to a smart outlet? Can I just stick a standard plug on the end?
 
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Old 09-21-22, 09:23 AM
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You would use a hard-wired outlet like this. It would need to be in a weather proof box. If you are just switching lighting you could use a switch instead of an outlet. Or even just a smart bulb (requires power to be always on and switches on-off, and some with color change and dimming) via WiFi.
 
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Old 09-22-22, 04:02 AM
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I'm just wondering--I don't have wifi down there, which is my end goal. Is there a better option for putting WIFI out there? What about an outdoor repeater or AP?
 
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Old 09-27-22, 08:33 AM
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Success!!

PJMax, that little thing actually works pretty well.
I see you got it. There was one method I didn't see mentioned, old fashioned divining rods. I used to know a plumber who swore by them. He told me that was how they found underground water lines in the subdivision he had been working in. He also said it worked on buried cables and conduits, PVC and steel.
 
 

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