I have been getting several calls from people with shorted UF cable. I am looking to purchase a good tracer and would like some input. Amprobe has several models from low to high price. What I need is the ability to locate the location of a short in buried UF 18-24 in deep so I dont need to dig up the entire yard.
to find this short circuit in an underground feed ....
located here. The breaker would trip when the ground was saturated with water.
I traced the wire from both ends to make sure of the location before I dug it up. The landscaper who installed it claimed there weren't any splices in the cable. As you can see it wasn't buried to the proper depth either.
I see that Amprobe has several models of the AT series 2001,2002,2003,2004,2005. do you need all the bells and whistles or does the AT 2001 have what you need?
I went with all the bells and whistles. I bought the AT-2005 model and have no regrets. Usually I only have regrets when I try to be cheap and end up wishing I had spent more.
I use this tool a lot and have found numerous hidden splices behind sheetrock. Other contractors have told the homeowner that they would have to start tearing out sheetrock until they locate the problem.
Charge a flat fee for locating the problem and include enough in the fee to pay off the tool in the amount of time you feel comfortable with. If you charge enough, your customer's are paying for the tool not you. After all you're saving them a lot of money by not digging up their yard or tearing out a bunch of sheetrock.
Once the problem is found you can then give them a price for the repair. In the case of the cable I show in the picture my price was for installing a new line in conduit buried to the correct depth.
The landscaper and the homeowner weren't too happy when I told them the freshly landscaped yard would need to be dug up for this to be done properly.
A-Line, this is truly a case where a picture is worth thousands of words.
At $1000, it's far from cheap. Yet, I've had to try to run down the exact type of fault you describe a number of times, using everything from a dowsing rod to a minesweeper, without a great deal of success. One of the major problems has been false paths - getting a strong tone where there are no wires.
This also seems an ideal candidate for tool rental companoes to offer .... does anyone have that option where they live?
Below is a photo of a hidden j-box I located using the AT-2005.
A basement bedroom had some of the receptacles showing an open neutral. Another electrician had been out and looked at it and told the homeowner he would have to tear out sheetrock until he found the problem.
I traced the circuit through the bedroom, then through another bedroom, down a hallway and into the family room where I cut a hole in the ceiling and found the hidden box.
On another call at a different residence the front porch light and front entryway lights weren't working. This was an old house and had been remodeled a few times.
I traced the circuit down the hallway, through the kitchen, through the family room, down the family room wall and into an old cellar below the family room.
I found an old pushbutton switch down there and when I turned it on everything worked again. Someone had turned the old switch off. It didn't go to anything but the lights that weren't working. Not sure why it was there. Someone must have pulled power from whatever the old switch went to to feed power to the lights for the remodeled porch and entryway.
The homeowner kept asking me what I was doing in the kitchen and family room when the problem was at the front of the home. I got the feeling he felt that I didn't know what I was doing.