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  1. #1
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    6 gauge UF broke

    My buddy calls me yesterday morning and says he doesn't have any water, can I check it out for him?

    This is an old dairy farm. He's the sixth generation of his family to run it. I'm not sure how many cows he has, maybe 50? Each cow drinks 25 gallons a day so it's kinda important to have the H2O.

    The well is 1/4 mile away from the house. It's a fantastic well according to my friend. There are several wells on the property and this is the only one that has never run dry. But, it's a 1/4 mile away and with all the cows the pump and switch get used pretty heavily. So I went in thinking it's going to be one of those two items.

    I check the switch in the house, 243 volts in and 243 out. Ok, must be the pump. We walk all the way down there and there's zero voltage at the pump. My buddy says, "dang, not again". I'm like what do you mean? He says that the UF has broken in the ground before. Last time it happened they dug a 2' trench with an excavator, laid the UF, hand removed all the rocks and filled it back in.

    We ended up digging test holes every 30 yards or so and finding where we lost the juice. Turns out it broke in the section that goes under a small creek. It's really nothing more than a drainage ditch.

    Ok, that's the back story. My question is does 2year old 6 gauge UF break all that often? We didn't dig up the broken section. The ground is frozen and the digging wasn't easy so we only did what we had to.

    One thing we considered is we had a huge warm up and snow melt a couple days ago. Lots of flooding. Then, the temp dropped fast down into the low teens. Everything froze fast and that night the break occurred. Would that have anything to do with it?

  2. #2
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    any kind of freeze thaw cycle will cause movement and stretching of the line. Even though it's expensive, perhaps a small sized conduit may be beneficial.

    Is 6 gauge wire really whats needed for his pump? maybe undersized?
    Experience - knowing when to get the hell out of the way and plug your ears. "Don't be a sissy. Turn it on!"
    Poodle Head Mikey - "the world is well populated with the unknowing and the uncaring and the stupid."

  3. #3
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    Most often this happens when a tractor or even a car is driven over the wire. This could have happened some time ago and heavy usage caused the wire to melt apart. Conduit is cheap insurance.

  4. #4
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    conduit makes it easy to pull a new wire, right? or overhead feeder to well.
    Col 3:23


    questions asked, answers received, ignorance abated

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by billygoat22 View Post
    or overhead feeder to well.
    It's a 1/4 mile away. And, with cows, you dont do ANYTHING overhead. They rub and push on everything. Over years even telephone poles get pushed off kilter
    Experience - knowing when to get the hell out of the way and plug your ears. "Don't be a sissy. Turn it on!"
    Poodle Head Mikey - "the world is well populated with the unknowing and the uncaring and the stupid."

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  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by HVAC_Marc View Post
    It's a 1/4 mile away. And, with cows, you dont do ANYTHING overhead. They rub and push on everything. Over years even telephone poles get pushed off kilter
    true that. 1/4 mile of conduit is a long way. maybe using larger cable, below frost line, and maybe leaving some slack in wire would help issue?
    Col 3:23


    questions asked, answers received, ignorance abated

  8. #7
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    bury the poles deeper and put those insecticide socks on them? two-fer deal?
    Col 3:23


    questions asked, answers received, ignorance abated

  9. #8
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    What does UF stand for?

    Underground something or other?

  10. #9
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    He probably has UF-B (Underground Feeder and Branch) cable. It's rated for direct burial.

    Some slack is usually needed over long runs so that there is room for contraction. It pulls taut otherwise and if it's undersized for the load it'll heat. When wire stretches it gets thinner. Add heat and tautness... zap, open line. It's much the same for long lengths of heating copper in buildings. It needs room for expansion and contraction.

    When I run long lengths I usually put it into a much larger conduit so that it has mini s-waves in the pipe. Never had a problem since.
    Experience - knowing when to get the hell out of the way and plug your ears. "Don't be a sissy. Turn it on!"
    Poodle Head Mikey - "the world is well populated with the unknowing and the uncaring and the stupid."

  11. #10
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    Wow, that kinda turns me on. Sort of like thinking about a water bed.


    Quote Originally Posted by HVAC_Marc View Post
    He probably has UF-B (Underground Feeder and Branch) cable. It's rated for direct burial.

    Some slack is usually needed over long runs so that there is room for contraction. It pulls taut otherwise and if it's undersized for the load it'll heat. When wire stretches it gets thinner. Add heat and tautness... zap, open line. It's much the same for long lengths of heating copper in buildings. It needs room for expansion and contraction.

    When I run long lengths I usually put it into a much larger conduit so that it has mini s-waves in the pipe. Never had a problem since.

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  13. #11
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    Thread Starter
    Thanks everyone.

    I'm not entirely sure what gauge wire it should be. The pump only draws 5.6 amps. I haven't looked it up yet but at that distance I think 6 gauge is plenty big.

    I recommended burying deeper and in conduit since overhead isn't possible. We'll see what happens.






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  14. #12
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    it's that big so that the voltage drop is less. 6 gauge copper is rated for 65 amps.
    Experience - knowing when to get the hell out of the way and plug your ears. "Don't be a sissy. Turn it on!"
    Poodle Head Mikey - "the world is well populated with the unknowing and the uncaring and the stupid."

  15. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by HVAC_Marc View Post
    it's that big so that the voltage drop is less. 6 gauge copper is rated for 65 amps.
    Right. I just think it's too large. I'll grab my Ugly's book and check the distance:amp ratio and see what would suit it best. Hey, it might actually be the 6!


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