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I've recently moved into a new house, and the workshop has what looks like power run to it. There's a cable that goes from the breaker to the workshop, but it does not have power. I assume there's a break in one of the lines in the cable somewhere as I've inspected all of the connections.

The run is through a drop ceiling, which should be easy, but the entire basement was studio insulated and so I can't find this wire. It looks like it enters a bundle with two other wires, but I don't know how tightly they're held together. My guess is the previous owner did the work, and not a certified electrician.

My first thought is to pull the old wire out of the outlet, solder as in-line as possible to a new wire, then shrink wrap that whole thing, and pull it through from the workshop to the panel (would direction matter here for burrs on the holes in the joists, etc?)

What's the standard way of doing this? I'm trying to avoid pulling all the insulation if possible.

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    The use of the word "solder" is going to raise a LOT of red-flags. Based on your description, I believe your intent is to replace the entire cable, not to effect a repair. If that's the case, you can just use electrical tape to join the two cables to use the old one to pull the new one. Solder would, most likely, break. If you're planning on repairing the cable in place, this is NOT the way you do it. Before trying to repair, though, wait for advice on more trouble shooting tips. – FreeMan Sep 21 '20 at 12:55
  • Is the insulation pullable and re-putable? If so that is going to be your course of action unless you are lucky and the circuits are wired through conduit. The chances of back pulling a cable that may run through holes in framing and be stapled or strap nailed in place are basically next to nothing. – Michael Karas Sep 21 '20 at 12:57
  • Do you have power at the load side of the breaker? Are there any GFCI outlets on that circuit? Are these wires in conduit or are they NM cable: you talk about them being in a bundle but then talk about pulling them through? – JACK Sep 21 '20 at 12:58
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    What do you mean by "studio insulated"? – Ecnerwal Sep 21 '20 at 13:30
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    Reality can be weirder than you imagine. A junction box or GFCI would be far more likely than a wire break. – Ecnerwal Sep 21 '20 at 18:23
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If it was installed remotely correctly this is unlikely to work.

Even if it was not done remotely correctly it's still unlikely.

The cables should be stapled or otherwise fastened, which precludes pulling them out.

Even if they were not, the "bundling" of several cables would make pulling one of those cables out of the bundle difficult.

Indeed, even when a single cable is run through holes in studs/joists it's very hard or impossible to pull that out from one end, particularly if the holes were not perfectly aligned.

I would suggest that you start by disconnecting both ends of the cable in question and perform some basic tests on it with a meter, to verify that your guess that a break in the cable is the cause of the problem, before going any further. You may well be chasing the wrong problem. Or looking at the wrong cable.

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  • Any ideas what the problem could be if not a break in the wire? Voltage in one end, no voltage in other end. All of the breakers are on while I'm doing this test so the wrong wire is ruled out. – Brydon Gibson Sep 21 '20 at 17:39
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    You have a multimeter? You mention reading 120V. So, disconnect both ends of the wire, twist all the conductors together into a wire nut at the breaker panel end, and look for continuity at the far end. A wire break is unusual, breaking ALL the wires is even more unusual unless it was cut and abandoned. As mentioned above, a junction box or GFCI you haven't found are far more likely than a wire break. Perhaps a switch - not altogether uncommon. That would "appear to do nothing" unless you were looking the right place at the right time. – Ecnerwal Sep 21 '20 at 18:26
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    duh, didn't think of doing that for a continuity test. I was going to make a really long multimeter extension... – Brydon Gibson Sep 21 '20 at 18:54

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