200AMP Service Line Has Hole, Dripping Water

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  #1  
Old 11-03-13, 11:41 PM
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200AMP Service Line Has Hole, Dripping Water

I recently purchased a home, it's in the 90 year range. Within the last 5 years the house had been rewired for 220 service. I noticed today when fixing an HVAC duct that the service line from the meter had a small half inch mark on it. I wiped it with a paper towel thinking adhesive dripped on it, but it was wet. Once I wiped it, it became wet again. I've attached a picture. I'm not really sure where to start with this one. I don't think it's a PECO problem (Phiadelphia) since it's in my house, but I assume water in the service line is a serious issue. I don't need a fire. Do I call an electrician for an emergency call or is this something I can wait a day or so for? It's been like this for an obvious while. I had the breaker panel off while I was fixing a double tap I found and didn't see any evidence of water in the breaker box yet. What does the line from the meter to the house cost to replace? It's about 6' of line for my situation.

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  #2  
Old 11-04-13, 03:53 AM
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The hot wires inside that cable are waterproof. I believe you have time to get three estimates.

The neutral/ground wire may have rotted or it may be fine. You may be stuck replacing the cable because I can't think of a way to know for sure.

Pictures of the outside service would help. Probably, the issue is water in the meter can that then flowed into the cable. So, terminations at the meter need to be inspected. You have to stop the water from getting in. And unclog the bottom of the meter can where the water was supposed to be able to get out. Also, consider drilling small weep holes in the bottom of the can.
 
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Old 11-04-13, 04:21 AM
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I agree with the can problem. It appears to have rust involved, and aluminum rusts white, not red. So I, likewise, believe you have water infiltration in the meter can. This will require the POCO to come out and cut the seal and power so you can safely work in it. Pictures of the outside would really help.
 
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Old 11-04-13, 06:24 AM
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Thank you guys for the quick responses. I managed to get a hold of a reputable electrical engineer through a friend who is coming out this week to check it out. He seems to think (and may as well be correct, I don't know much about electrical work) that if the damage isn't too extensive that simply stopping the water infiltration would be a sufficient remedy without having to replace and of the alumaflex service lines.

I hope this isn't driving a tank through my bank account, I have a son due in a few months lol.

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Old 11-04-13, 07:22 AM
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The connector on top of the meter socket is the likely place where water is getting in. I would recommend replacing the cable between the meter and the panel, the bare wrapped aluminum neutral conductor will oxidize completely through the conductor. This usually is not the type of project that requires high dollars; it's more of a service call type project. This would be a good time to inspect the sheathing on the rest of the SER cable too for signs of damage.
 
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Old 11-04-13, 07:27 AM
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Thanks Joe, I appreciate the advice. When the engineer I spoke to mentioned that they might not have to replace the cable from the meter to the panel, I was kind of nervous about that suggestion. I'm going to suggest replacing the line (which I'm sure they won't have a problem taking the money for) just to be on the safe side. I didn't even think about the oxidation issue, good call.

I agree with the top meter socket, that caulk job looks like someone tried to fix a failed seal or leak at that location. Very sloppy caulk job. I wish I had noticed this during the inspection.
 
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Old 11-04-13, 07:52 AM
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I agree with the top meter socket, that caulk job looks like someone tried to fix a failed seal or leak at that location. Very sloppy caulk job. I wish I had noticed this during the inspection.
In theory the weatherproof connector at the top of the meter socket should keep water out, but reality is that water can many times get past the rubber seal if the connector isn't tightened sufficiently. That is why most electricians use a small amout of duct seal at that connector to be sure it is water tight. I don't recommend caulk be used at that location. I also prefer using duct seal at the wall penetration rather than silicone caulk. It's possible that a jagged edge at the penetration is what damaged the cable sheath where the water is now dripping. It pays to be very careful when installing the cable.

While you have the engineer there, ask him if there is a proper ground rod installed somewhere beneath the meter socket, I don't see any sign of a grounding electrode conductor, should be a #6 copper.
 
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Old 11-04-13, 08:20 AM
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I didn't even realize the ground rod. I know I have one inside my house though the concrete floor in the basement, there should be one on the meter as well correct? (Sorry, I'm new to home ownership, and new to electrical. I've done some light electrical work when I was a contractor but this is a whole different ballgame.

I'll take note of the recommendations and suggest them to the engineer in case he has a journeyman come to finish the job or something who wouldn't necessarily have the experience to use the correct sealant.
 
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Old 11-04-13, 08:28 AM
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I didn't even realized the ground rod. I know I have on inside my house, there should be one on the meter as well correct?
All driven ground rods should be outside. What do you have inside that you're thinking of as a ground rod?

When the EE is there, ask him for his opinion of your Grounding Electrode Conductor and service entry neutral-ground bond. Ground rods, where required and installed, are part of that.

Your GEC protects your system and house against "high-voltage transients." Read lightning. It's that bonded component that's important, not the details of how it's made.
 
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Old 11-04-13, 08:31 AM
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I didn't even realize the ground rod. I know I have on inside my house, there should be one on the meter as well correct? (Sorry, I'm new to home ownership, and new to electrical. I've done some light electrical work when I was a contractor but this is a whole different ballgame.
The NEC requires two ground connections, one to where the water service enters the house and one to a ground rod. Where the ground wire from the ground rod connects to your service is a local AHJ/power company issue. In some areas it terminates on the neutral bus of the panel and in other areas it terminates on a neutral grounding lug inside the meter socket. You may already have a ground rod, I just didn't see any sign of it or the grounding electrode conductor from your pictures.
 
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Old 11-04-13, 06:54 PM
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I have seen and installed ground rods through the basement slab instead of outside. Sometimes outside was not an option.

If you have the top cable replaced see if they can use a knockout on the side or bottom of the socket.
 
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Old 11-04-13, 07:05 PM
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I just realized when thinking about it, the walk way on the side of my house is about 4ft above ground level. That could be the reason there is no grounding rod on the outside vs. the basement.
 
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