When the monitor, or a pipe-to-soil potential survey, indicates inadequacy of protection, the first place to look is at the protective unit. The current output of the rectifier should be checked; if it is normal, the trouble is on the line itself; if it is high, and accompanied by low voltage, the trouble is certainly on the line, and is caused either by increased current demand or by a short-circuit to parasitic metal. If the current output is low, with voltage normal or high, the trouble is in the ground bed or connecting cables.
A pipe-to-soil potential over the ground bed will show a peak over every anode which is working; a disconnected anode will not show at all. This test is particularly useful if comparison can be made to a similar test made at the time of the original installation. When inactive anodes are found, only digging will uncover the cause.
If the rectifier and its anode bed appear to be performing satisfactorily, the source of the low potentials must be sought on the line itself. Any area in which work has been done recently should be investigated; for example, if a new lateral has been connected, the insulation should certainly be checked. If investigation of such suspected sources discloses nothing, then a more detailed search must be made.
First, the pipe-to-soil potentials should be studied, to see if the failure seems to be localized. A more thorough, but slower, approach, is that of making a detailed line current survey; find out where the drained current is coming onto the line. This will be much more easily interpreted if a similar survey, made when the line was in satisfactory condition, is on record; a comparison will often very quickly locate the offending parasite. On the other hand, if the current collected in each section is greater than on the earlier survey, with no pronounced differences, then the trouble is simply that of increased overall current requirement, probably due to coating deterioration.