Service drop wire replacement??

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  #1  
Old 10-29-13, 10:17 AM
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Service drop wire replacement??

While on the roof I noticed some exposed wiring / damaged insulation on the weatherhead. Called out the utility.

Initially the linesman said I need an electrician to replace the wire in the riser between the meter and the weatherhead where it connects with the utility wire. The majority of the damaged insulation was on my portion.

After he completed his repair of his portion he repaired the exposed portion from my wire with tape at the weatherhead, he said I was OK and the replacement can hold off for now.

He went on to say that the wire could be OK in the riser (obviously he cant see it) and not to worry.


House is 55 years old, I assume the wire in riser is cloth covered old stuff.

Is this something I need to tend to immediately??

Should I be concerned this is a fire hazard??

I assume if it was a safety hazard the linesman would have cut off power until I fixed whatever it was that needed fixing... right?

Would you approach this as a needed repair of just the wire between the weatherhead and meter now or hold off until Spring/Summer and consider an entirely new service replacement?
 

Last edited by zmike; 10-29-13 at 10:40 AM.
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  #2  
Old 10-29-13, 10:37 AM
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Best is to have an electrician check it out before it becomes a problem. Call three electricians and get estimates for just changing out the wire in the riser. Replacing is best because no visual inspection can be 100% sure.
 
  #3  
Old 10-29-13, 11:35 AM
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Would you approach this as a needed repair of just the wire between the weatherhead and meter now or hold off until Spring/Summer and consider an entirely new service replacement?
Why are you considering replacing your service? If you've been considering an upgrade for some reason, continue planning for it. But go ahead and have this repair made now. Then it'll be done, safe and out of the way.

If you're thinking of increasing your service, just have the larger conductors installed now. Won't hurt to have them there even if you don't increase the size of your service and, if you do, you won't have to pay to have this part done twice.
 
  #4  
Old 10-29-13, 11:45 AM
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UV degrades the portion exposed to the sunlight. I doubt that there are issues inside the mast.
 
  #5  
Old 10-29-13, 12:09 PM
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Thanks. I have an electrician coming later this week. I was afraid it was going to be expensive... but I can get new weatherhead and wire from there to meter for the price of service call plus material. (still expensive for me but not like I was expecting). Old riser and meterbox stay.

Question:

I have 100A service. What is the proper gauge wire we should have from weatherhead to meter and also from meter to panel?

Anything else I should consider when getting this done?
 
  #6  
Old 10-29-13, 12:13 PM
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Anything else I should consider when getting this done?
Do you have gas or electric heat? Do you have a gas or Electric stove? Do you have a gas or electric dryer? Do you have gas or electric water heater? What is the make and model number of your panel? Is it full?
 
  #7  
Old 10-29-13, 12:21 PM
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Short of upgrading my service I meant.
 
  #8  
Old 10-29-13, 12:25 PM
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If you are considering an upgrade in the near future get a price to install the larger mast and service conductors now instead of replacing them twice, once now and again later for the upgrade.
 
  #9  
Old 10-29-13, 12:45 PM
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100 Amp is sufficient for my home. But that makes good sense.

So Im sure they will be using the proper guage wire, but I am curious, what type of wire is used from weather head to meter and meter to panel?

Looks like I have cloth covered aluminum (dont know size) going into my panel.
 
  #10  
Old 10-29-13, 12:48 PM
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THWN. If copper #3 minimum.
 
  #11  
Old 10-29-13, 01:25 PM
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IS #3 for 200A service too? Or is that the reason you guys are mentioning future upgrading?
 
  #12  
Old 10-29-13, 01:54 PM
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Amps--Cu--AL
100--#4--#2
110----3---1
125----2--1/0
150----1--2/0
175--1/0--3/0
200--2/0--4/0

For short lengths and residential services only.

Service size is determined through a residential load calculation by a licensed electrician. These calculators can give you approximate values and be used for general reference.

Residential Load Calculators

Optional Method
Service and Panel Size Calculator

Standard Method
http://www.nojolt.com/load_calculations.shtml

Standard and Optional Methods
Residential Load Calculations - Mike Holt Enterprises
 
  #13  
Old 10-29-13, 01:59 PM
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For a 100A service, 4 AWG copper or 2 AWG aluminum. For a 200A service, 2/0 copper or 4/0 aluminum.
 
  #14  
Old 10-29-13, 03:54 PM
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Still trying to digest all this at a time when money is tight.

Do you think this is this an unusual repair having to pull all new wire and put on a new weatherhead (leaving riser and meter encloser).

Is the taped repair of the insulation from the linesman a proper repair or just temporary measures as I assume?

Also the wire from the meter to the panel is old cloth covered aluminum as well (assume same material as the other portion)..... should I have that replaced as well or leave it be?


Linesman said we were OK and that an electrician isnt immediately needed but as I know electrical tape isnt a fix either I dont think....

What would you do in this case?
 
  #15  
Old 10-29-13, 04:14 PM
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Leave it for now. Keep an eye on the tape. If he used good quality material it should be OK, at least until spring. The wiring from the meter into the panel should still be as good as new. It could probably stand to have its terminal screws tightened, but that isn't DIY work.
 
  #16  
Old 10-29-13, 07:01 PM
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Do you think this is this an unusual repair having to pull all new wire and put on a new weatherhead (leaving riser and meter encloser).
At 55 years old, not at all unusual. Be prepared, the meter socket may have to be replaced too. Without even seeing your service, I can tell you a 55 year old service needs to be replaced. Meter socket, panel and all service entrance wiring included, plus upgrading the grounding. Can you wait till next summer? Maybe.
 
  #17  
Old 10-30-13, 09:38 AM
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Im going to have to bite the bullet and get it fixed. I have a electrician scheduled later this week, I sure hope I havent opened up a big can of worms....

If I had a hazardous condition, do you think the utility lineman would have shut off my power until I fixed it or since they dont "own" that portion of the service would they even bother?

Also the wires were exposed until the linesman wrapped them with tape, how come it didnt short in the rain?

Also PO upgraded panel at somepoint, I assume doing so did not update the service wire... I want to assure there is proper gauge wire connecting the newer 100A panel... would it be unusual to have a panel replaced at some point but not the service wires as I describe? Am I missing the bigger picture?

Again I am going on what the linesman said, I cant see inside the riser nor can I see the wires anymore since they are wrapped in tape.
 
  #18  
Old 10-30-13, 10:26 AM
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would it be unusual to have a panel replaced at some point but not the service wires as I describe? Am I missing the bigger picture?
This is done frequently because of the lower cost even when the complete service should be replaced and sometimes because the homeowner didn't get a permit to do the work. When the power company is involved, there almost always has to be a permit and inspection before the power company will re-connect.

I want to assure there is proper gauge wire connecting the newer 100A panel
That's a good point and your electrician should be able to tell. It's possible the orginal service entrance wiring and meter socket was just rated at 60 amps and someone added the 100 amp panel. I've seen similar situations where a 100 amp panel was removed from 100 amp service entrance wiring and replaced with a 200 amp panel, obviously with no permit or inspection.
 
  #19  
Old 10-30-13, 11:41 AM
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Am I only looking to confirm that the wire going from meter to panel is large enough for 100A service (in this case its aluminum so thats #2 right?) Or do I have to confirm the meter enclosure itself is rated for 100 not 60?

Is there an easy way to know this by looking at the meterbox?

Im extemely nervous that I opened up a can of worms here...
 
  #20  
Old 10-30-13, 11:49 AM
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Am I only looking to confirm that the wire going from meter to panel is large enough for 100A service (in this case its aluminum so thats #2 right?) Or do I have to confirm the meter enclosure itself is rated for 100 not 60?
Why are you trying to confirm these things? The service drop, riser, meter base and meter are all the province of master electricians and service providers.

You said you have 100A service now.

What are you feeling nervous about?
 
  #21  
Old 10-30-13, 12:10 PM
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My concern is that since the feeder wire that needs replacing appears to be original cloth covered wire that the rest of the service up to my 100A breaker is rated for 60A.

The 100A panel was likely added by a previous owner no permit and I fear maybe they cut this corner and I will be pressed to replace everything instead of just the weatherhead and the damaged wire up to the meter.
 
  #22  
Old 10-30-13, 12:28 PM
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The 100A panel was likely added by a previous owner no permit and I fear maybe they cut this corner and I will be pressed to replace everything
So long as the panel meets code there should be no need to replace it. If the meter socket is only rated for 60 amps then replacing it is a good thing and won't add much work.
 
  #23  
Old 10-30-13, 12:51 PM
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Other than the deterioration of the insulation outside the weatherhead, what is it about your existing service drop that makes you want to replace it?

My concern is that... the rest of the service up to my 100A breaker is rated for 60A.

The 100A panel was likely added by a previous owner no permit and I fear maybe they cut this corner and I will be pressed to replace everything instead of just the weatherhead and the damaged wire up to the meter.
How long has the existing service drop been supplying that panel and its loads? Any problems?

I wouldn't be in an all-fired hurry to replace the riser, weatherhead and feeders, myself. I wouldn't plan on replacing the meter base at all. The meter itself belongs to the power company - they already have what they want there and they're free to replace it anytime they want to. That only leaves the conductors between the meter base and the panel. Have those been overheating?

Three things: It's not likely that the PO bootlegged a new panel in. He'd have to do that with the feeders live through the wall. Most folks aren't prepared to do that. If he pulled the meter himself he might still be paying off the fine. If he had the POCO pull it then it was a permitted and inspected job. Also, any and all permits pulled for your property should still be on file and available for your inspection at your local jurisdiction's offices.

Second, if by "replace everything" you mean everything including the panel, why? Does anything about about it look substandard? If not, and if by some wild chance it was installed w/o a permit, your jurisdiction might ask you to pull and pay for a permit. And you should be able to appeal that request.

Third, POCOs play by different rules than the rest of us. When we upgraded the service to our old house from 60A to 200A the triplex from the pole stayed in place. I never climbed up a ladder and checked the gauge because I didn't care. If it failed, it wasn't my responsibility to replace it.
 
  #24  
Old 10-30-13, 01:38 PM
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Thanks guys for for the good points. I appreciate the chance to vent here, I know if I threw this all out to the service electrician then they will become more than happy to replace everything if you know what I mean....

Other than the deterioration of the insulation outside the weatherhead, what is it about your existing service drop that makes you want to replace it?
Nothing at all. Just want to repair/replace the taped up wires and make sure it is safe. And I assume this means new wire from driploop connection all the way to meter rather than the electrical tape bandage that is on there now. I assumed you wouldnt pull new cable thru the old weatherhead and that a new one would be just part of the repair like a fitting or something on the old riser pipe.

As far as the wire between the meter and panel-- I just figured since the meter will be pulled that if they were not the proper gauge that it wouldnt be a big issue to swap that small run out as well. Its definetly old style aluminum braid with cloth insulation.

I also assume the POCO wouldnt have hooked up their feeder wire to 60AMP rated wire to begin with... so maybe in my lack of knowledge I am over reacting.
 

Last edited by Nashkat1; 10-30-13 at 02:01 PM. Reason: Format quote
  #25  
Old 10-30-13, 02:20 PM
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Just want to repair/replace the taped up wires and make sure it is safe. And I assume this means new wire from driploop connection all the way to meter rather than the electrical tape bandage that is on there now. I assumed you wouldnt pull new cable thru the old weatherhead and that a new one would be just part of the repair like a fitting or something on the old riser pipe.
If your existing weatherhead is still good there's no need to replace it. If not, they cost less than $10.

As far as the wire between the meter and panel-- I just figured since the meter will be pulled that if they were not the proper gauge that it wouldnt be a big issue to swap that small run out as well. Its definetly old style aluminum braid with cloth insulation.
Sure, if you want to. But just so you know, aluminum is still commonly used today for service entrance wiring. The conductors aren't braided, they're stranded, and that "fabric" is probably made from mineral-based material and it's there to protect the insulation, which may be rubber. Still, you can replace it if you want to.

If I was keeping the existing wires, I'd give each stripped end a fresh coat of anti-oxidant and re-torque the screws.
 
  #26  
Old 10-30-13, 02:58 PM
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I just figured since the meter will be pulled that if they were not the proper gauge that it wouldnt be a big issue to swap that small run out as well. Its definetly old style aluminum braid with cloth insulation.
Are you sure? Considering the house was built in 1955, I'd bet that what you have is tinned copper conductors that have a silvery looking apprearance on the surface. I don't think I have ever seen aluminum SEU cable used originally on a 1950s vintage house.
 
  #27  
Old 10-30-13, 03:41 PM
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Are you sure? Considering the house was built in 1955, I'd bet that what you have is tinned copper conductors that have a silvery looking apprearance on the surface. I don't think I have ever seen aluminum SEU cable used originally on a 1950s vintage house.
Im judging by what I see on the main lugs in the panel, I cant say if its tinned or all aluminum though. If it indeed is all alum. then that might suggest it has been changed sometime in the past half century then.

FWIW, the deteriorated exposed portion by the weatherhead was silver in color (but lacked the shiney luster like what comes into the panel). Little bit of green too (maybe that suggests copper kind of like deterioration on a solder joint on a water pipe).

The silver incoming wire in the panel is stranded. But what I saw without insulation at the mast was braided I think (cant recall for certain).
 
  #28  
Old 10-30-13, 03:51 PM
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There may be a braided strain relief for the overhead wires. Conductors are either solid or stranded.
 
  #29  
Old 11-01-13, 08:01 AM
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Hi- Just wanted to say thanks again for putting up with my questions.

I had the repair (and nothing more) done this week. Replaced the cable from drip loop to meter with #3 copper. Left old weatherhead. Electrician said that the cable from meter to panel was sufficient size and was tinned copper.

No need for permits etc in our area. Utility already came back and crimped their connections. No more electrical tape wrapped everywhere.

Knock on wood I am good to go for 250 bucks....

Thanks again.
 
  #30  
Old 11-01-13, 08:25 AM
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Thanks for letting us know how it worked out.
 
  #31  
Old 11-01-13, 12:14 PM
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The only hitch I had with the repair was the rust that I saw inside the meter socket where the connections are made.

The electrician didnt mention this at all but I saw it when the meter was pulled.

Is rust an issue at the socket and lugs?
 
  #32  
Old 11-01-13, 12:52 PM
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It should not be rust as the lugs should not be steel. However, anything like rust or oxidation will increase the resistance at the connection and cause additional heating. Too much heat can lead to red trucks out front with flashing lights. I would have this checked.
 
  #33  
Old 11-01-13, 02:06 PM
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So even with old equipment the connections/lugs wouldnt be steel that rusts?

If that is the case what I probably saw was aged copper.

I would assume the electrician would have suggested replacement if it was otherwise....

can you tell I am the kind of guy that worries about stuff like this alot?
 
  #34  
Old 11-01-13, 04:56 PM
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So even with old equipment the connections/lugs wouldnt be steel that rusts?
The lugs generally are tin plated aluminum. The lugs won't rust, but the plated steel screws on the lugs can seize from moisture. That's usually my biggest fear when I look inside a visibly older obsolete meter socket and also why I mentioned earlier that possibly replacemment will be required. That, and a lot of 60 amp meter sockets were used in the '50s too.
 
  #35  
Old 11-01-13, 05:43 PM
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The lugs won't rust, but the plated steel screws on the lugs can seize from moisture.
If that occured, would that make removal or retorqueing of the conductors impossible?

Also:

In older sockets, are lugs able to be removed and replaced?


JUst trying to rationalize the repair... was it bad idea to keep this (meter socket) this old in service? If the electrician remade the connections, then I should be good to go right?

Thanks
 
  #36  
Old 11-01-13, 09:39 PM
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was it bad idea to keep this (meter socket) this old in service?
IDK about "good" or "bad," but replacing it while you had the service disconnected should have added only a little bit to the total cost. Replacing it now might cost you another $250.
 
  #37  
Old 11-02-13, 07:09 AM
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The lugs won't rust, but the plated steel screws on the lugs can seize from moisture.
If that occured, would that make removal or retorqueing of the conductors impossible?
Exactly!

In older sockets, are lugs able to be removed and replaced?
Just about anything can be removed and replaced, but finding parts for an old obsolete socket is very near impossible. In a relatively new meter socket, when parts are needed for repair the only good source of parts is to buy a new meter socket.

JUst trying to rationalize the repair... was it bad idea to keep this (meter socket) this old in service? If the electrician remade the connections, then I should be good to go right?
As long as the lugs were able to be used, I wouldn't worry about it too much. The rust is caused by moisture. I'd look at the outside of the socket for any possible way moisture could get in and seal any you find. I'm sure that socket will last at least as long as the wire to the basement and the panel.
 
  #38  
Old 11-06-13, 12:38 PM
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You guys have been so great with replying to my questions, I appreciate it. Last on in regards to service entrance cables.

I noticed that the electrician wrapped white electrical tape around one end of one of the conductors before pushing it up the pipe. Its visible now up by the driploop.

Since this is 240 why would he designate one with white tape?
 
  #39  
Old 11-06-13, 12:57 PM
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Since this is 240 why would he designate one with white tape?
Your service isn't straight 240V It's a single-phase 240/120V service. That requires, and has, three conductors - two hots and a neutral. In the triplex, the neutral is the bare conductor.

If your electrician installed three insulated conductors in the riser, as he should have done, he'd need to designate one of them as neutral. Is the conductor with the white tape spliced to the bare conductor in the triplex?
 

Last edited by Nashkat1; 11-06-13 at 01:14 PM.
  #40  
Old 11-06-13, 01:20 PM
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Is the conductor with the white tape spliced to the bare conductor in the triplex?
Cant tell from the ground if its bare coming off the triplex but it is indeed connected to the smaller of the 3 wires of the poco cable which connects to the riser with clamps. I assume this is the neutral/ground.


Thanks Nashkat! I apreciate all the help you have provided me.
 
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