On our property we have a main house and an 800 sqr foot detached "guest house". To the right of the entrance to the guest house is the electrical service / meter. The wires for the electrical service go into conduit in the concrete slab that is around the door, and off underground to where the power comes down the utility pole on the corner of our property. Right next to the electrical service in the concrete is another piece of conduit that also goes into the concrete. Stuck out of that are cut off, thick electrical wires (The size of electrical service). I would like to know where this conduit goes, does anyone have any ideas/techniques to determine this?

First and foremost I want to clean-up the electrical wires that look kind of scary and out-of-place just sticking out of that conduit. Knowing where the "other end" is should make it easier to pull out the cable since there is barely enough to tug on sticking out now. Second of all, I'm wondering if the conduit goes to the main house (e.g. I'm thinking the guest house was powered from the main house before it had its own service). If it does, I may be able to use this conduit to help run an ethernet line I want to run to the guest house. To do this though, I really need to know where the other end is.

Any ideas?

  • blow air into the conduit using a compressor. you may be able to find the other end where the air comes rushing out
    – jsotola
    May 6, 2018 at 19:44
  • Any chance you could ask your local electric company whether they have any records on the property?
    – SDsolar
    May 6, 2018 at 20:17
  • Keep in mind direct burial cable must be terminated in protective piping, and they typically use conduit for that. It may go 3' into the ground and stop. If the wires merge into a common cable, it may be direct burial and there's no conduit at all. May 6, 2018 at 21:48
  • My first guess was they planned to feed (or possibly originally fed) the “guest house” from the main house, and for some reason abandoned/changed the plan and had the power utility feed it as a separate service. I’d look around at the main house and see if you can locate the other end.
    – Tyson
    May 8, 2018 at 17:48
  • @tyson Do you know if they did this, would it be in conduit the whole way, or just by the guest house and where it comes by the main house? There definitely isn't any conduit running at the main house now, but I'm wondering where to dig to find the "other end". I'd rather not dig up the whole yard :-).
    – Doug
    May 8, 2018 at 17:50

1 Answer 1


This is what a wire tracer does. One part clips to the accessible wiring. The other part gives an audible tone when you hold it near any connected wires. I've used them plenty for Ethernet and phone cables but they work on any electrical wiring.

  • If you have "Digsafe" or something like it in your state, you may be able to talk them into finding out for you. I had made such a call, and managed to catch one of the contractors mapping out my gas line. I told him that my electrical provider had refused to map the lines because they were "privately installed". He thought that was a lame excuse, he then twisted some knobs on his detector (something like what you see beach comers use) and waved it around where the electrical service was, and showed me where it went. If there is no power in the line, you will need a signal generator.
    – DaveM
    May 6, 2018 at 20:18
  • @manassehkatz - I actually have a toner set I've used for Cat5 a ton, but I'm not sure how to use it in this circumstances. With shielded cable the max distance I've been able to pickup a tone is about 4". That is not far enough to pick-up below ground/concrete to figure out where this thing goes.
    – Doug
    May 7, 2018 at 11:29
  • @DaveM We do have "Dig Safe" at 811. I'll reach out to them if the other techniques don't work. Thanks for the suggestion.
    – Doug
    May 7, 2018 at 11:30
  • @Doug The issue probably isn't shielding of the cable but rather the conduit. What you can try is connecting the tone generator at the exposed end and then see if you can find a tone anywhere near your breaker panel. May 7, 2018 at 13:50

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