MFL Fault Finder Operating Instructions

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MFL Fault Finder Operating Instructions
Part number: 790-1080
Issue: 1.0 - 12/13
Copyright 2013 by The Charles Machine Works, Inc.
How Earth Return Faults Are Created
When a direct-buried cable’s insulation is damaged, the conductor is exposed to contact with the earth
which creates a fault. If large enough, the fault can degrade the service provided by the cable. This type of
fault is called an earth return fault. These damaged areas interact with the earth which causes corrosion
that can further degrade the service.
Faults can be caused by a number of actions.
Splicing: Corroded or damaged splices may fault to ground.
Excavation: Cables can be nicked or broken by excavation equipment such as shovel, backhoe,
trencher, drill head, auger, fence post, etc. These nicked areas can fault to ground and provide a place
for corrosion to start.
Abrasion: Rocks and other abrasive elements can damage cable when the earth shifts due to soil
conditions, climate and above-ground traffic.
IMPORTANT: Although there are other types of faults, only earth return faults can be detected with type
of equipment.
Finding General Location of a Faulted Cable
Some things to look for when searching for the general location of a faulted cable are:
recently disturbed soil
past splices
“buried utility” notices
utility facilities without overhead lines
junction boxes
drop boxes
light poles
sunken ground
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Fault Locating Concepts
Isolating the cable on both ends and then engergizing it with a special signal generated by a transmitter
creates an electrical circuit where current flows down the cable and seeks a path back to the transmitter.
The path back to the transmitter is along the path of the fault to ground. Current will not flow without a path
to ground.
Use a fault probe to probe the earth and measure the signal along the path of the cable. Signal will be
highest at the point of the fault where the current enters the ground and at the transmitter ground stake.
The arrows on the receiver will point toward the direction of the fault.
As you move away from the transmitter, the receiver may stop indicating transmitter signal. As you near
the fault, the receiver will resume indicating transmitter signal. This is normal. The signal will be strongest
near the point of the fault (X) and at the transmitter ground. When probes straddle the fault or transmitter
ground, signal will drop.
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Set Up Transmitter
Set Up Transmitter
Fault mode is not available on 5W basic transmitters.
Transmitter must be running Firmware Version 2 or greater.
1. De-energize and disconnect cable at both ends. Turning off a breaker is usually not enough to isolate
the cable for fault finding.
2. Plug direct connect lead into transmitter.
3. Connect red lead to faulted line and black lead to ground stake.
4. Press the On/Off key to turn on transmitter.
5. Press and hold Power Level key to enter menu.
6. Navigate down to Options Menu and press Power Level key to select.
7. Navigate down to Fault Mode and press Power Level key to select. IMPORTANT: If direct connect
leads are not plugged in, Fault Mode will not appear in the menu.
8. Select “Enabled” by pressing Power Level key.
9. Transmitter will return to main screen and be
in Fault Mode.
After the transmitter is connected to the cable, the
impedance reading will help verify that a fault
exists on the cable. While transmitter is in Fault
Mode, the screen will show current, impedance
and voltage. It will also be in power level 1. If
current is below 5mA, increase power level until it
shows 5mA or transmitter is at highest power
Readings > 100k indicate no significant
fault exists in the cable.
Readings < 50k indicate a fault is likely.
Higher transmitter power levels give better readings. Try a higher power level to ensure the cable
is faulted.
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Set Up Receiver and Fault Probe
Set Up Receiver and Fault Probe
Fault mode is not available on basic receivers.
If receiver does not have 263Hz installed, fault finding will not work.
Receiver must be running Firmware Version 6 or greater.
The receiver can also locate cables while in fault mode but performance will vary based on the
amount of current on the cable.
1. Press On/Off key to turn on receiver.
2. Plug fault probe into accessory port.
3. When fault probe is plugged into receiver,
receiver will enter fault mode (probe icon will
show) and flash a home symbol in the bottom
right corner of the locate screen, as shown.
4. Connect transmitter to faulted line following
transmitter setup instructions.
5. Select power level 1 or 2 on transmitter and
observe adequate current on the line (ideally
at least 10mA).
6. With back toward transmitter, move down
faulted line a few feet from transmitter.
7. Center fault probe over the line and push it
into the soil.
8. Numbers will appear above the flashing home
icon. Once they do, press and hold Frequency
button to home the fault system.
9. After system is successfully homed, a chime
will sound and an arrow will appear, as shown.
This indicates the fault is located toward the
top of the screen.
IMPORTANT: Keep fault probe and
receiver oriented the same while fault
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Find Faults
Find Faults
Known Cable Route
After the receiver is homed, the receiver will display signal strength and direction if sufficient signal is
present. If no signal is detected, detector will display “ - - - “ in center of screen.
1. Move 10’ (3 m) down the cable route and insert fault probe again.
2. After arrows point in the opposite direction, insert fault probe a few feet (meters) back down the cable.
3. Repeat step 2 moving smaller distances until arrow changes direction after only a few inches
(millimeters) of movement.
4. Rotate fault probe 90° and repeat location process until arrow switches direction after a small
movement. Fault is directly between probes.
Unknown Cable Route
IMPORTANT: If possible, locate the cable with a receiver and mark the location. Then follow the
instructions for a known cable route.
1. Draw a straight line between the two disconnected ends (1, 4) of the isolated cable.
2. Follow the instructions in “Known Cable Route” (above).
3. Once fault is found (2) on straight line, turn fault probe 90° and find true location of fault (3).
Multiple Faults
After a fault is located and fixed, check the rest of the cable for other faults using the same process.
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