How to Find a Buried Electric Line

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Underground power lines last longer than above ground lines.
Underground power lines last longer than above ground lines. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Buried electrical lines allow you to hide unsightly wires as they bring power to your property. The problem with buried electrical lines is you must locate them before digging in your property to avoid damaging the electrical lines and electrocuting yourself. Depending on your property or your intentions, you might be looking for either buried electrical utility lines or just regular buried household electrical wiring.

Things You'll Need

  • Underground cable and pipe locator
  • Spray paint

Call 811. This service is run by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) for local utility companies in your area to make sure utility lines are not destroyed during construction work. Inform 811 of your intention of digging and your desire to have your utility lines marked. 811 will mark all your utility lines at no charge to you. Power lines that are located underground on your yard will be marked, but not any household underground power lines.

Read the directions of the underground cable and pipe locator, as operating procedures can vary significantly depending on the manufacturer.

Turn on the underground cable and pipe locator. If you are only going to use the underground cable and pipe locator once you are better off renting it, as it can be very expensive to buy.

Scan the ground with the underground cable and pipe locator. It works similar to a metal detector. Pass the detector over the ground until the display gives you a reading. Follow the reading to locate the entire line, and use spray paint to mark the path of the electrical line.

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