We recently had a new lawn installed and the workers removed the lamp post and clipped the underground wire. Since then, a key breaker won't reset. That breaker is tied to our garage door, our front entry lights, our porch light and garage sconces and an outdoor receptacle, and a hall way light (don't ask me why they are all working off the same breaker). I've tried to find where the wire from the lamp post ties in, but no luck. No extra wires visible coming into the side receptacle or the porch light and not other obvious place where wires would pass through the wall.

Any ideas on where the builders might have tied the lamp post into the house current? It was built in the 1990s. Would they have run it under the foundation or driveway? The side receptacle is on the same side as the lamp post and line of sight. Sees that would be the obvious choice.

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    How far can you trace the wire beginning at the lamp post? In fact, maybe they didn't put wire nuts on the wires before burying them, so it is causing a ground fault. Can you find the lamp post ends?
    – wallyk
    Sep 30, 2017 at 23:58
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    Yeah, can you find the end of the wire tha the workers left behind? Oct 1, 2017 at 0:02
  • if the wires have a short, you can find them from the box end of the wires, or at least until you get to the end of all cables on that bus that you care about...
    – dandavis
    Oct 1, 2017 at 3:55
  • I used Google Earth to pinpoint the location of the lamp post (since all traces have been removed) and pulled up sod and dug through dirt well past where the post had been, but alas, no luck. I am absolutely certain they just clipped the wire and buried. These guys were laborers, not technicians.
    – Thorski
    Oct 2, 2017 at 16:06
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    Yeqh, I'd go back to them and lay down the law and say "fix it or else", the "or else" being you hire it done and send them the bill. What they did was irresponsible and the business owner needs to be hit in the face hard enough that he never does it again. Oct 2, 2017 at 16:38

3 Answers 3


A fundamental rule of electrical installation is that every wire must terminate in a junction box that is accessible without taking apart any part of the building (obviously other than the junction box cover, receptacle, switch, lamp etc. which covers the junction box).

So you have to search. Unfortunately the mere fact that a junction box has a live wire in it does not mean your wires aren't there. Yours could be "passing through". But if a box is inexplicably dead, it is certainly part of that circuit. Follow the wires and/or follow your nose.

Another rule of electrical installation is that wires have two ends, and if you unhook one end, you must unhook the other end too. They should have done that for you, to avoid this problem...

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    Look for an LB, junction box, or Pvc conduit coming out of the ground. Maybe around the meter area. It should help you locate where the junction box Harper is referring to. Good luck. Oct 1, 2017 at 14:14
  • I found just such a box, but it turned out to be for another circuit. There are no other outside junction boxes.
    – Thorski
    Oct 2, 2017 at 16:08
  • Ok, time to Stop looking for the boxes you can't find, and look for the boxes you can find, i.e. The loads you care about. Open up all those boxes and see what's there and start making educated guesses about how they are interconnected. Oct 2, 2017 at 16:40

So the kid that used to live next door grew up to be an electrician. He spent an hour or so chasing down possible tie-ins. Finally found it in an inside outlet behind a couch. Go figure. Thanks for the suggestions, everyone.


If the initial search turns up nothing, you might want to invest in a "toner" such as a Fluke Pro3000. The toner injects noise onto a dead wire that allows you to follow it with a receiver 'wand'. I'd imagine you'd have no problem finding exactly where the wire goes with this tool.

Assuming you're in the US, you're looking at around $100 and a bit of diy time, which might compare favorably with hiring a pro to investigate.

(There are cheaper models out there, but I have no experience with them, so wouldn't want to mention them by name. Fluke is a well-regarded brand, so you could certainly resell the toner afterwards for most of what you paid.)

  • You want him to spend $3000US for a one time home usage device?!
    – Rob
    Oct 2, 2017 at 13:23
  • I found one for $75. If I used this, where would I connect it to to send the tone? I have very little experience with electrical.
    – Thorski
    Oct 2, 2017 at 16:18
  • Where you must connect it is no place for mortal men. You may just want to call an electrician on that one... Oct 2, 2017 at 16:30
  • Connect the leads (with the power off!) to the cut ends. Then use the wand to follow the tone -- louder=closer; quieter=further away. You'll eventually get to a junction box where you can do the disconnect. (IIRC, you can short the wire you think is the one going to the lamp, and that'll change the tone.) And @Rob, you're a funny man! Oct 3, 2017 at 0:09
  • Oh, I just read the comment that said you've lost the cut ends... connect the toner's leads to the black and white (respectively) of one of the dead devices (light, as long as it's switched 'on', outlet, whatever), and search the yard with the wand. Oct 3, 2017 at 0:12

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