Most modern communities today utilize underground electrical cables to distribute electricity to homes instead of unsightly overhead cable and utility poles. Underground electrical cable is also commonly used for parking lot lighting, and is a good choice for property owners who need to power outbuildings. Underground installations are not without their own problems however and, even though less frequent than overhead installations, underground cable does degrade over time and break.
Underground cable is subject to breaks, called faults, which are caused by any number of things. Cable that has been installed in rocky terrain is especially susceptible to breakage. Other things that lead to cable damage are people digging into the cable while installing something else, ground shifts during freeze/thaw periods, or cable that were damaged during the installation. As mentioned earlier, all electric cable degrades over time and will eventually develop problems.
So what do you do when your underground electrical cable fails, or faults? Honestly, your best bet would be to call a professional who can locate the underground cable and the break for you. The equipment needed for this work can be expensive, so leaving the work to a professional is recommended. The fault locator will use a cable tester to determine that a break exists.
Then he/she will use an underground cable locator to trace the path of the underground electrical cable, and will probably use paint to mark where the cable runs underground. electrical gland At that point the cable fault locator will use one or more of several methods to actually locate the exact spot where the electrical cable is broken. He/she may use a hill of potential method, which tests the area for voltage changes in the ground, or he/she might use an earth gradient method, in which a high voltage surge is sent through the electrical cable and can be detected with a special meter. These methods, when used by an experienced underground cable specialist, are extremely accurate and efficient. There are times however, when conditions within the electrical cable or the ground prevent these methods from working very well.
In extreme cases the fault in the underground electrical cable may need to be located by either excavating several locations to test the cable, or another option would be to replace the section of underground cable that is in question.
Underground electrical cable is convenient and aesthetically pleasing, but when problems occur it is best to enlist the services of an expert, or underground cable specialist, to pinpoint the break and advise you on the best methods of repair.