Broken (OLD) weather head and conduit

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Old 11-07-10, 06:22 PM
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Broken (OLD) weather head and conduit

I'm posting this because I'm trying to obtain some advice for a friend. Here's the scenario:

The house in question is an older one (built in the 1950s) and it has original electrical service. However, the weather head and conduit down to the meter is a design that I've never seen before. It has a round meter base (the same size of the meter) and EMT conduit between 1" and 1 1/2". The conduit runs up, bends to the edge of the eave, around the edge of the roof and straight up to a weather head. The messenger hanger was attached to the outside edge of the eave. This is a one story house. Well, we had a storm a few days ago and the hanger ripped loose from the house, bent the conduit to the meter base and now the power drop is hanging about 2 feet from the ground in the yard. The question I have is -- I'm conflicted as to whether she should call an electrician, or the POCO. The electrical service is very obviously up to code, grandfathered in, of course. The house was purchased about a year ago and it passed inspection. I KNOW, however, that if the service has to be fixed, it will more than likely need to be replaced with current service which could in essence require a new meter base, possible new breaker panel, and this could open a whole can of worms. I can physically reattach the edge of the eave, mount a new hanger and using some conduit clamps, remount the conduit to the home. However, there is still the issue of the conduit being broken at the top of the meter base. The wires have not been scored, damaged or broken and the electrical service is still functioning.

If I call the POCO, am I asking for a tremendous estimate to replace all electrical service? I know some of these companies will not reestablish service unless it's fixed to code, and most electricians will not repair antiquated service, saying it needs to be brought up to current building codes.

Please help! Money is tight and I don't want this person to end up in a terrible predicament as having no electrical service isn't an option.

Thank you!
Matt
 
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Old 11-07-10, 07:18 PM
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Unfortunately you are going to have to call both. An electrician will not work on a live mast, and the POCO will not touch customer owned wiring (which includes the mast and weatherhead - their responsibility ends at the triplex splice. So they will have to cut service, the mast will have to be replaced, and then the service reconnected. The good news is the electrician can usually coordinate with the POCO and an inspector so the service is out for as little time as possible. Also, there is nothing that says you have to bring an entire house up to current code or upgrade service just to replace the weatherhead on the mast. Nothing inside is going to be touched, therefore is not subject to inspection. At the worst, if the meter pan is damaged, it'll have to be replaced. But nothing inside will have to be inspected or changed.

I ran into this about 10 years ago. A semi truck caught our low hanging cable drop (which was attached to the power mast) and ripped the entire mast right off the house. The power company removed the drop and pulled the meter when the police found the wires across the road (they asked a neighbor to get ahold of me). The electrician replaced the hub on top of the meter pan, replaced the pipe and weatherhead, and called the inspector who was there in a matter of minutes and wrote up a cut-in card. The longest part was waiting on the POCO to reconnect (because it wasn't coordinated with the electrician, they were called by the police to get the live wires out of the road). That happened that evening when they got a truck in the area. Total time without power was less than 12 hours. As far as cost, I can't tell you what it'll cost you. Location, competition, and other factors determine the cost. Mine was $600, but that's because it was an emergency call on a weekend. Your price will vary.

What you should NOT do is monkey with it yourself. First of all, if the insulation on the triplex is deteriorated, you'll get shocked, probably to death. Second, if you ghetto rig it back to the house, and the meter reader sees it like that, they'll probably yank the meter on the spot. You can't just leave it like that. It needs to be fixed, and fixed right.
 
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Old 11-07-10, 07:49 PM
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Thank you for your advice. I'm trying to get information for my friend, and what I don't want to have happen is her service disconnected for an unknown amount of time. I also don't want some electrician to come in and say "yep, you need to have ALL this done, and unless we do it now, I have to cut power..." Like I said earlier, money is tight, so that's why I'm investigating this, trying to find any loopholes. I will have her contact an electrician first, and have them advise on contacting the PoCo. When calling an electrician, is there bargaining? I mean, if she calls one, can she say she's just getting an estimate, or will they become pricky and threaten to cut power indefinitely? This is a single mother, and I'm trying to help her get this done with as little headache as possible. I appreciate anyone's honest input. Thanks again!
 
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Old 11-07-10, 08:09 PM
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First of all, electricians do not work for the POCO, so they aren't authorized to cut your power (but if she calls the POCO first, they WILL cut the power until the mast is fixed). Second, unless they call a real shyster, they won't even make mention of other stuff that 'has to be done'. Like I said, they are not touching anything beyond the meter, so there's no reason for them to even go inside the house. It just doesn't work that way. You don't need to look for loopholes, because it isn't anywhere near as awful as you're making it in your head. Again, at the absolute worst, they would need a new meter pan if the old one is damaged in addition to the mast parts. Absolutely nothing else should be quoted. Tell them if someone tries to tell them other things need replacing or upgrading, to show them the door.
 
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Old 11-07-10, 08:28 PM
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I am Electrician here and there are few items to clear up as JerseyMatt explain here.

The POCO will only deal with meter itself and the overhead drops that it noting else at all.

Unforetally if you call the POCO they will genrally cut the power off and they will not turn it back on unless it get inspected by the electrical inspector or other inspector check the service before it can be engerized.

Now the Electrician typically will replace the mast, weather head , riser , meter socket and conductors anything will be replaced depending on how bad the damage is.

To bring up to the modern code it kinda toss up all it depending on the local inspector requirment so it will really varies a bit { the local inspector will have to make a decison what it have to be done per state / local codes }

As far for the round meter socket I know they are rated for 100 amp but 60 amp service is common with this set up and when it have to be replaced it have to upgrade to minuim of 100 amp service or larger.

For in my area few Electricians can cut the seal { DANGER : UNFUSED CONDUCTORS } but nowdays Most POCO will just cut the drop off near the pole espcally with older round meter socket for safety issue I have see and it done happend to me few time they will short out.

But I am sorry we have to follow the codes we can not do the partal way without comperised the safety issue so again the electrician will have to take a look to see what it need to be done.

Over 80% of my time I end up replace the whole works espcally when the service drop ripped out { there will be some hidden damage which you don't see it from outside }

As far for the breaker box or fuse box it may have to replace it as well sometime it cheaper to do it all at once instead do two parts.

The electrician will typically get the service changeover useally under 8 hours in most case { most of the time I hit 6 hour window time without issue }

The cost well.,, that part it will varies alot depending on which electrician you get and time of day you get them { I know the weekend and after hours are useally more than normal hours }

If more question just holler here.

Merci.
Marc
 
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Old 11-07-10, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by JerseyMatt View Post
First of all, electricians do not work for the POCO, so they aren't authorized to cut your power (but if she calls the POCO first, they WILL cut the power until the mast is fixed). Second, unless they call a real shyster, they won't even make mention of other stuff that 'has to be done'. Like I said, they are not touching anything beyond the meter, so there's no reason for them to even go inside the house. It just doesn't work that way. You don't need to look for loopholes, because it isn't anywhere near as awful as you're making it in your head. Again, at the absolute worst, they would need a new meter pan if the old one is damaged in addition to the mast parts. Absolutely nothing else should be quoted. Tell them if someone tries to tell them other things need replacing or upgrading, to show them the door.

JM.,

This is more than just a basic answer to this part I know you mention not let anyone go in the house related to this matter and I am sorry that is wrong on that part a good electrician will check the inside to the breaker box for few reason one is to check the damaged conductors and conduit or SE cable and the other reason that majorty of POCO's will NOT engerized the power unless the main breaker / main fuse is off or disconnected.

That one reason why once I do see the meter socket ripped off the wall it become automatic enter in the building there is no other way around { as long the owner of the place do understand what is going on.}

Merci.
Marc
 
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Old 11-07-10, 08:39 PM
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I guess the good news is...IF they have to replace a breaker panel, it's located just below the meter socket. It's only like 4 breakers as the house has like 50 or 60 AMP service. I haven't looked extremely closely at the wiring in the house, but I know the wiring is at GREATEST 8 gauge, possibly 10, from the weather head down to the meter socket. You can see why I would be worried about someone digging into the house wiring. It's more than likely a mess, but I know that electrical usage in the house is not very high. A few lights get used, 1 TV, the built in microwave doesn't work, a laptop, dishwasher....and she's not a big fan of running the central air. But that's wired directly into the breaker panel from the exterior. This should simply be a conduit, weather head, meter base and all wiring replacement, right?
 
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Old 11-07-10, 08:55 PM
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If the breaker or fuse box is outside it may be not too bad but again as I say it depending on the how much damage it got and I know some older all in one boxes may get lucky on that part but the safest thing is have licensed electrician come out and check it out and replace what it need to get up the code plus of course they will sink in two new ground rods plus a bonding cable to the water pipe if in city water area.

Once the electrician replace that damaged meter socket and replace the panel it will be not bad at all.

the way you describe this and I am pretty sure that is a 60 amp service and all the electricians are aware we have to install 100 amp service per NEC code.

The whole thing should take no more than 6 hours the top unless it have thru the roof mast aka perscope riser then it will add about a hour more to the time.

Merci.
Marc
 
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Old 11-07-10, 09:06 PM
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Well, the only thing that's actually BROKEN is the top of the meter base -- the metal's bent out and the wires are visible. Obviously the eave will need to be repaired, but that's not an electrical issue. that just needs to be nailed back up. Everything else is in fine condition.
 
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Old 11-07-10, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by kish2554 View Post
Well, the only thing that's actually BROKEN is the top of the meter base -- the metal's bent out and the wires are visible. Obviously the eave will need to be repaired, but that's not an electrical issue. that just needs to be nailed back up. Everything else is in fine condition.
Just want to give you a head up majorty of the electricians will not bother repair the old meter socket they will toss it aside and put in the new one I have see that situation but as far for the old fusebox or breaker box it will pretty much up to the electrician decison but I have a strong feeling they will dump old 60 amp fuse box/ breaker box to modern 100 amp load centre especailly if more than 20 years of agewise { a good electrician will know how far this last and what brandname load centre espeically with FPE or Zinsco both are bottom of my list { they are famous for not tripping at all }

Merci.
Marc
 
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Old 11-07-10, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by french277V View Post
JM.,

This is more than just a basic answer to this part I know you mention not let anyone go in the house related to this matter and I am sorry that is wrong on that part a good electrician will check the inside to the breaker box for few reason one is to check the damaged conductors and conduit or SE cable and the other reason that majorty of POCO's will NOT engerized the power unless the main breaker / main fuse is off or disconnected.

That one reason why once I do see the meter socket ripped off the wall it become automatic enter in the building there is no other way around { as long the owner of the place do understand what is going on.}

Merci.
Marc
I'm not sh***ing on you, but I don't buy that. The OP didn't say the meter was ripped off the wall, he said the conduit was bent. To me this says the pan is still on the wall, but possibly dented/deformed/peeled away. If this is the case, there's no inside wiring could've been damaged. And if the breaker box weren't right there on the wall behind the meter, then what would you expect to find? In my old house when the mast got ripped off, the breaker box was in the utility room in the back of the house, about 30 feet from the meter. There would be nothing you could examine there that would tell you anything without busting up the walls to get at the cable. There was no attempt at all to go inside by the electrician or inspector. Like I said all he did was put a new hub on the meter pan and installed a new pipe, weatherhead, clamps, and conductors.
 
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Old 11-07-10, 10:29 PM
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JM.,

Sorry for not answering soon I was away from the keyboard for a moment { have quick service call for a moment } anyway the OP did fill me in more details and I do see what the OP's explation is but again for that OP's meter socket where it got broken on the top that defentally have to be replaced anyway but for rest of the conduit and conductor it pretty much up to the electrician decied what to keep and what not.

I have ran into simauir situation with older round meter socket quite few time and with outside load centre useally not a major issue as long the branch circuits are not damaged or main conductors between the meter socket and main breaker.

And JM keep in your mind I done this kind of stuff for over 20 Years in both Wisconsin and Paris France so I have see just about everything you can think of and it become a second nature to know where to look for.

Each location I have use my judgement to see what it need to be done replace and what not and final part I will NOT do anything which it will voliated the codes.

Merci.
Marc
 
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Old 11-08-10, 12:47 AM
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Something else to keep in mind is that the LOCAL codes along with the utility's requirements will dictate what can and cannot be done. If the original point of connection of the utility drop to the service conductors was below the minimum clearance now required the new connection WILL need to conform to the current requirements. There is no "grandfather" rule for this when the original connection is being replaced, no matter what the reason for the replacement.
 
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Old 11-08-10, 06:35 PM
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I am thinking this service is 50 to 60 years old. That's older than most posters on this board. There is a distinct possibility that the connections in this old socket are frozen with age and rust and will never come loose. The wire is as old as the service and is fragile. If the panel is outside under the meter, it is most likely in sad condition too. The best thing to do would be to replace the service. I seem to remember that some of those old round sockets were made from diecast metal too. The socket could be cracked or even broken.
 
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Old 11-08-10, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by CasualJoe View Post
I am thinking this service is 50 to 60 years old. That's older than most posters on this board. There is a distinct possibility that the connections in this old socket are frozen with age and rust and will never come loose. The wire is as old as the service and is fragile. If the panel is outside under the meter, it is most likely in sad condition too. The best thing to do would be to replace the service. I seem to remember that some of those old round sockets were made from diecast metal too. The socket could be cracked or even broken.

Thank Joe for the good facts here and I have see it plenty up this far north in Wiscosnin and belive or not the older French meter were round socket as well we got rid of them as well.

Merci.
Marc
 
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Old 11-08-10, 09:35 PM
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My house is 2 years older then me, built in '45 and I too have a round meter socket. Not sure if the Zinsco 60a main was original or not. If your friends is that old and 60a it might be a good time to change out the panel. Being on the outside it would be easy. Mount a new main and meter next to it then just feed the original as a sub. Power could remain on till the new socket and panel was set up. Then it would just be a mater of having the drop shifted and hooking the old to the new.
 
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Old 11-09-10, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by CasualJoe View Post
I am thinking this service is 50 to 60 years old....I seem to remember that some of those old round sockets were made from diecast metal too. The socket could be cracked or even broken.
Yep, some are only rated at 40A too. The utility company around me will not reconnect the old die cast meter socket except for very basic repairs like tightening a lug nut. Anything more than the that the old socket has to be replaced with a modern 100A or higher which usually means all the conduit needs to be replaced too because it will be completely rusted to the socket or your pipe wrench will bust through it because it's so rusty.
 
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Old 11-14-10, 09:36 PM
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Thank you

Thank you everyone for your help! I sorted through some contacts, found a master electrician and he came out to replace the meter can, conduit up thru the roof and weatherhead. Ended up being about $350. He also strongly suggested that the electrical service panel be replaced, but we're going to wait till after the holidays to have that project completed -- just a financial decision. The owner of the house wants to bring everything up to code, and once the new year has passed, will take on that project. Again, thanks everyone for your advice!
 
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Old 11-14-10, 11:23 PM
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Thanks for letting us know how it turned out.
 
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