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Re-energizing an overhead distribution feeder safely is a major consideration for a utility's safe work practice. One way to improve the safety is to determine whether the feeder still experiences short circuits before it is energized. In this paper, a novel fault detection technique is proposed to detect if a de-energized distribution system still experiences short-circuit faults. The proposed method involves injecting a thyristor-generated-controllable signal into the de-energized feeder. The feeder voltage and current responses are analyzed to determine if a fault still exists. A thyristor gating control strategy and fault detection algorithm are also developed in this paper to detect all possible types of faults that can occur in a system. The effectiveness of the proposed method has been verified through theoretical analysis, computer simulations, and lab tests.