View Full Version : Locating live underground 240v lines

08-16-2011, 01:23 AM
Un-related to my other thread concerning pulling pvc for high voltage.

What can be used to locate buried "live" 240v lines? I know of someone on a budget trying to find said wiring from house to outbuilding/garage. They live on left coast. Said util co wants to charge for a locate since wiring is the home owners wire.

Will a metal detector work? Would a high current draw help the locate? i.e. run an electric heater, pool pump and electric oven.

08-16-2011, 01:31 AM
Jim will know! Wouldn't a 521 pick up the 60 cycle hum?
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08-16-2011, 01:36 AM
These are people trying to not have to buy a 521 or hire a locate company.

08-16-2011, 01:50 AM
Not trying to dis them if they are your friends but they should just deal with it and have someone locate. There is a reason why all these companies have all this equipment- the right tool for the job ?

Jim will be able to answer this but I'm going to say that any kind of metal detector won't be able to detect the frequencies the power of the wire is putting out.

They could rent a 521- turn off the power to the outbuilding and trace it out or have a company come in with a utility locator.

Or they could dig up the entire line :)

08-16-2011, 01:59 AM
Hey, if a metal detector would work ..... why shouldn't they try it first before hiring a locate company?

08-16-2011, 03:22 AM
That is about the stupidest thing I've ever heard. They don't want to pay to locate it? What do they think it's going to cost when someone digs back there and gets electrocuted? If they turn the power off and someone digs there and cuts the line, they'll have to replace the whole line! I'd tell them to do it right or to not involve me in ANY way. There are some corners that can be cut, but that ain't one of them.

08-16-2011, 03:41 AM
Jim is the man...but I want to chime in and Jim can correct me.

As Mitchgo said turn power off at the power source. Does power need to be disconnected? Set up transmitter (tone line), detect. Right Jim?

I want to say it would be a mistake for a home owner to rent a 521 and locate themselves. Sounds dangerous. UFO summed it up.

08-16-2011, 08:52 AM
I have had luck tracing live wires by clipping the 521 on to the ground wire. As long as it is shielded or n conduit it traces quite well. I have traced services that way for my brother when he is using his tree spade. I sometimes stick a small piece of wire in the ground part of an outlet if I have no other way of connecting to the ground wire

08-16-2011, 09:17 AM
I'd definitely upgrade from a metal detector to a locating company on this one.
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08-16-2011, 10:56 AM
Turn power on to out building do not hook up the transitter to anything and follow the fuzz.

Use the flaw of the 521 to your advantage. It will have static on each side of the line and fall silent when you are right over it. It will just not beep like it does on a legit locate with the transmitter.

Had a locate last week with all kinds of power lines that had just been installed. It was interesting bc I knew where the lines were bc of the new trenches and I could see how the 521 reacted.

All this being said... get it located by a locating service.

08-16-2011, 11:21 AM
They won't dig without locating the power lines first. They just wanted to know if "live" wires can be found w/o special equipment. Like with a metal detector. Otherwise they will hire a locate company.


08-16-2011, 02:37 PM
hire the locator , live a bit longer plus its cheaper than the repair

08-16-2011, 05:55 PM
A 501 using the inductive clamp always worked great for me.

08-16-2011, 06:00 PM
hook onto ground and follow usually works for me.

08-16-2011, 06:16 PM
A 501 using the inductive clamp always worked great for me.

This would be my route also. I think the pro 800 from armada has this option also. That said you know what your listening for, average homeowner wouldn't. As its been said the equipment is only as good as the person running it.

AI Inc
08-16-2011, 06:18 PM
Wheres ya sense of adventure. Shove a flag in the neutral and another in the hot. If nothing else , ya will never do that again.

08-16-2011, 06:40 PM
I think the pro 800 from armada has this option also.

I don't think so, if it does there must be a way to use a 521 with an inductive clamp.

08-16-2011, 06:54 PM
It has wireless mode so it doesn't necessarily need the clamp kinda like a 501. And the pro 800 and 521 are different animals. The pro 700 would be comparable to a 521. Greenlee doesn't have a comparable model to the pro 800.

Link to pro800 page:

08-16-2011, 07:51 PM
Maybe you're right but I find it strange that a clamp isn't included or even an option.

08-17-2011, 12:57 AM
hiring a professional locator is like buying an insurance policy, sometimes it's a life insurance policy, sometimes not.

240vac is just 2-120vac legs at 50/60 hertz, nothing special to locating it.

i would attach to the ground and follow it, the only issue is that you can't identify the target but, the owner knows what it services so you know where you should end up at.

the inductive clamp will work for the 501, same as the pro-800 using its wireless broadcast mode. i actually like and use the broadcast mode on mine a lot. i also use the tr-4110 and the inductive clamp from my dynatel a bunch too.

metal detectors won't locate power (they detect ferromagnetic fields and not electromagnetic fields)

there were a lot of right and a few wrong replies to this thread but, a few years ago the wrong would have out numbered the right. you guys did good :)

'bout time :laugh:

08-17-2011, 09:26 AM
Just go ultra low budget and use some dowsing rods (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dowsing#Dowsing_rods) to find it.

08-17-2011, 09:36 PM
Just go ultra low budget and use some dowsing rods (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dowsing#Dowsing_rods) to find it.

Actually dowsing works , believe it or not , it wont tell you wether its a gas pipe or a water pipe or electric , but something is there

08-17-2011, 11:16 PM
Dowsing works as long as its an open ditch.

AI Inc
08-18-2011, 07:50 AM
Did a 811 call a few months back and the locater used em for electric supply to the house.