HELP -- Drilled into Ele. Supply Line

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  #1  
Old 08-09-04, 09:24 AM
fairfax station
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HELP -- Drilled into Ele. Supply Line

I was putting up some shelves over the weekend and without
thinking, I began to drill into the drywall 2 feet below the
main distribution panel. You can guess what happened next.
Sparks, smoke, a little fire at the tip of the drill bit, and a
lot of panic.

I cut open the dry wall to inpect. There was the grey, 1.5 inch thick cable running up to the main distribution panel. I
drilled a 1/4 inch hole through the insulation. I did not drill
all the way through the cable, because there is no hole on the
reverse side. I am sure that I have done damage to the wires
inside, judging from the sparks coming towards my drill. The
cable has this on it " Cable Style U Type SE Cable Style U Type SE..."

The house's light, AC, Stove, etc. seem to be functioning
properly. I did not notice anything different.

My question is -- how much damage have I done? Do I need to call someone to replace the cable? Do I call the local electric company or do I can any electrician?

For the time being, I taped up the hole...
 
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  #2  
Old 08-09-04, 09:37 AM
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Yes, the cable needs to be replaced. It most likely needs to be completely replaced, but that determination can be made once it is determined where the cable comes from or where it goes.

Call an electrician. Do so right away. If you saw sparks and flame then there is a short. Even though removing the drill removed the short, the wires are still exposed and could short again, leading to a fire.

Why were you drilling near your main panel? You cannot mount anything below or above it.
 
  #3  
Old 08-09-04, 09:39 AM
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Please call an electrician. I can't imagine the drill continued to drill once it hit live wire so the only damage is probably the insulation, but the cable's going to need to be replace. You're lucky. Thank god for grounding else there probaly wouldn't have been any sparks or smoke or fire or you...

Doug M.
 
  #4  
Old 08-09-04, 09:47 AM
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If the hole is in the middle of the cable, you need to call an electrician faster than ever. That means that there is the possiblilty of a phase to phase short. If it hit the edge of the cable, then it is still dangerous, but you can wrap some electrical tape around it until an electrician can get there.
Also, if it is the cable going to the electrical meter from the pole outside, then you need to call the utility company.
 
  #5  
Old 08-09-04, 01:14 PM
rlrct
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Originally Posted by racraft

Why were you drilling near your main panel? You cannot mount anything below or above it.
To be a little more specific about what racraft is saying, the "working space" around your service panel is basically 30" wide x 3' deep x 6 1/2" tall. You have to keep that space clear. No shelves, no cabinets, no storage in front of it, etc.
 
  #6  
Old 08-09-04, 02:05 PM
fairfax station
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thanks for all the replies. I have scheduled an electrician to come over tonight at 6:30PM. The earliest I can arrange. The damaged cable is between the meter and the panel. Any one care to give me some idea how much this would cost me? I just want to have a reference point when I get the bill tonight.
 
  #7  
Old 08-09-04, 02:16 PM
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It depends on the size of the wire (gauge), the type of the wire (aluminum or copper) and the length. Also factor in how hard it will be to do. It sounds like it is in the wall, meaning demolition of the wall to get to it.

Doesn't sound cheap to me.
 
  #8  
Old 08-09-04, 02:23 PM
fairfax station
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Great -- a huge bill is just what I need ...

The wall in question was the side of the garage and the meter is almost right outside. Hope he can just remove a portion of the drywall...

Will come back tomorrow with any development...
 
  #9  
Old 08-10-04, 07:03 AM
fairfax station
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Got an electrician coming by yesterday afternoon. He cleaned up the wires last night. It looked like I broke two ground wires and drilled into one of the two black wires. He said had I drilled into both of the blacks, I would be in much sadder shape. Anyway, he is returning Thursday to replace the cable.

I have a question on permit. He said for this job, getting a permit is optional in VA. Getting one would cost me $400. Since it is optional, I opted not to. Any comments on this?

Also, his estimate was $400 for the replacement of cable and patching up the drywall. Sounds reasonable?
 
  #10  
Old 08-10-04, 09:10 AM
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Optional $400 permit?? Sorry... this just sounds funny... Does it become mandatory if you get caught? Is there an optional inspection after the work is complete? If the house burns down because of faulty work, does the electrician have optional liability? I would probably call the city and find out about this for myself. Don't give your name...

Doug M.
 
  #11  
Old 08-10-04, 09:34 AM
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I agree, $400.00 for a permit does sound fishy. I would expect a permit to be somewhere around $25 or $50. Depending upon who does the inspection, you may have to pay extra for the inspection. Where I am from an inspection would cost $25, but I would not need a permit for this work, as it is repair.

Follow Doug's advice, and call the town or city. Explain the situation. Let them tell you the rules, including what is optional and mandatory, and what the charges will be. Then decide what you will do based on what they tell you.
 
  #12  
Old 08-10-04, 11:48 AM
fairfax station
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Called the county government. It turned out that a permit is required for this since this involves the service entrance cable. The permit is $56 including inspection. The eletrician contracts the job of getting permit out to a third party, for which he charges a fee. So I am going to get the permit myself, as a home owner. Thanks for the good advice.

How does the repair charge of $400 sound to you guy? He is going to replace about 10 feet service entrance cable from the meter to the panel...
 
  #13  
Old 08-10-04, 11:57 AM
Jorren
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It sounds that either this electrician is either a) not licensed or b) possibly a journeyman electrician but not an electrical contractor. Make sure HE pulls the permit. If you as homeowner pulls the permit and the inspection fails, YOU are responsible to fix the mess. If HE pulls the permit He is on the hook to get everything fixed and re-inspected- if necessary. Also, the only time I've seen pulling permits contracted out is the electrcian is not a contractor and he has his buddy, who is a contractor, help him get permits FYI.
Jorren
 
  #14  
Old 08-10-04, 12:01 PM
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A 614% markup... Again, I'm in the wrong business. Now I'm skeptical of the whole thing. $400 for 10 feet of service cable and a wall patch... What if you patch the wall yourself?

Might be worth getting a second estimate. I would call around. Some will give you a ball-part number over the phone.

Good luck.

Doug M.
 
  #15  
Old 08-10-04, 01:47 PM
deep6blue
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IMHO $400 is just nuts for replacing 10 ft of cable.

How many hours does the electrician estimate it will take just to perform the electrical portion of the job (not the drywall)?

And charging $400 for a $56 permit. Something is wrong.

Check the electricians credentials, and if he is licensed.
 
  #16  
Old 08-10-04, 07:28 PM
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Sounds to me like hes screwing you!! In this area for $50 LESS you would get a new meterbox, 30' of SE cable & all related material {i.e straps,servicehead,hub,connectors}. All without a permit,I would call the local inspector to see how much a permit really costs.
 
  #17  
Old 08-14-04, 05:17 AM
Light4u2
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I sell electrical products to both maryland, va, and the district. I probably would know who the electrician would be if told. Were not allowed to do that at this time on this forum. However I know 10' of 4/0-4/0-4/0 "seu" service entrence in this area cost exactly 17.89. Permit cost $56. Labor could run between 80 to 100 per hour. One electrician can do the job. I think he could do that job in less than four hours. That there is a big savings. Also, understand if he has to get some one to pull his permit he is N O T licenced in VA., his "buddy" is, which then he falls under his buddy's licence. Skip that don't get involved with someone that is not licenced at all or in another state. I will clue you in Fairfax, Leesburg, Prince William's inspectors are and can be rough. So some one from those areas to hire know inspectors and how they like things done. Get some one from your area. Also goto your local electrical distributer and buy it. There is one of my stores very close to you, as well as others. No plugs allowed so I won't tell you who. So...if it's not too late than buy the following cable
Tell them to give you contractor pricing cause your electrician sent you....
200 amp service buy 4/0 Aluminum SEU Cable It's about 17.89/per 10'feet
150 & 100 amp service buy 2/0 Aluminum SEU Cable. 12.78/per 10'feet
(Ie 150 is 3/0 but that is not common for this area, we keep it simple)
 
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