Bringing a meter up to code.

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  #1  
Old 10-27-14, 05:26 PM
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Bringing a meter up to code.

My wife and I have bought a new house and we are really excited about the upgrade options and the opportunity to do it our selves! We are not scared of getting our hands dirty and the possibility of making this house ours is exciting!

I have done all my research, in Idaho the homeowner can act as their own contractor and my homeowner's insurance does not increase/decrease rates or coverage if I install stuff or if a contractor installs it, in fact they dont even require an inspection on stuff, you would think they would...Anyway there is a whole slew of projects that I am wanting to get done.

The first project I am wanting to do is to change over the fuse box to a modern breaker. The house is currently running on 100am service and I am planning on putting it up to 150, I suppose I could go to 200, but with all my major appliances being run on gas, 150 should be plenty.

The power company has told me that on their end bumping up the amp service is a flip of the switch due to the electric meter.

As I understand it I may need to change some stuff outside though for the inspector to sign the project off and get the power turned back on. I was wondering if anyone could take a look at these photos and let me know if there are some glaring things that will need to be changed to bring it up to code?

I want to try and avoid a situation where I do the work, have the inspector come out out, and not have it pass inspection due to the meter not being up to code.





This copper wire runs down into the ground, I am sure it is attached to a ground rod, I am going to dig around it and see if the second rod is there, if not I know I will need to install a second and use a second clamp.







Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks

A.
 
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  #2  
Old 10-27-14, 06:13 PM
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Doing a service upgrade isn't too difficult, but there are a lot of details to get right. What makes it harder is that it's difficult to do over a couple day period, since you'll likely be without power during it.

It sounds like you can do your own work, but you definitely want a qualified electrician or the power company to disconnect/reconnect. Many locations will do the disconnect/reconnect prior to inspection, but others may require a signed-off inspection before reconnecting.

As you probably already know, you'll need a new panel, new meter pan, new wires connecting the two, and a new service drop. You probably need to drive two new ground rods, and will need to bond your water service (if metal).

You also likely have an issue with your service drop being too close to the window. You may need to either relocate it or permanently seal the top slider of your window. One of the experts here can probably cite the clearances required.

Hope this points you in the right direction.
 
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Old 10-27-14, 06:18 PM
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In addition you may need to extend the mast through the roof if the ground clearance is not enough.

You may not even need an increase unless you are planning on adding new loads to the service.
 
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Old 10-27-14, 07:00 PM
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In addition you may need to extend the mast through the roof if the ground clearance is not enough.
Installing a mast through the roof (like PCboss suggested) is the best way to get the distance required from the window. In my area the service connections cannot be within 3 feet of the window. Your power company may have additional clearance requirements around that window. Get a copy of their service manual and find out.
 
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Old 10-27-14, 07:17 PM
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If you DIY I'd Suggest do a totally new service next to the existing one. That way no problem coordinating disconnect and reconnect with the power company. Get your new meter socket and breaker box setup and ready to go then just have the drop transferred to the new service. The fuse box would be gutted and used to extend the branch circuits to the new box. You can take your time transferring over most critical circuits like lights first.
 
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Old 10-27-14, 07:23 PM
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The additional cost of going to a 200 ampere service instead of 150 is miniscule. Essentially it is the cost of the larger wire from the point of the utility connection to the service panel as the cost of the 200 ampere panel may be less than that of a 150 ampere panel due simply to the fact that far more 200 ampere panels are made.

You CAN install a new service without disturbing the existing if you plan it right. Definitely go through the roof with a new mast, install a backstay on the mast and install the new meter socket adjacent to the existing. Use a LB to turn the power into the house if you cannot place the new CB panel directly behind the meter. Run the wires from the weatherhead to the meter socket and into the new panel.

From there you can run a conduit from the new panel into the existing panel and after all the inspections have the utility pull the meter and then you can pull the wiring from the (old) meter socket into the old panel, thread it through the conduit connecting the two panels and make it up on a 100 ampere CB. Then have the utility place the meter in the new socket and change the overhead wiring. With a little planning you can be back in business in about an hour or less.

Note that this makes the old panel a "sub" panel (that definition does not exist within the National Electrical Code) and IF you have any circuits in the old panel that have equipment grounds they do need to be re-connected along with removing the "bond" between the neutral bus and the enclosure itself. If here are no "grounded" circuits in the old panel then this is not something to be overly concerned about as you will be moving any grounded circuits to the new panel and most likely moving ALL the circuits to the new panel and just use the old panel's enclosure as a splice box.

Yeah, there are a LOT more details but that is the Cliff notes version.
 
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Old 10-27-14, 07:26 PM
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I was just thinking the same thing Ray

As Ray said... as a homeowner it will probably take several days to install the new service. Having the old one in place and having power is a big help. I guess the major hurdle to this idea would be if you have the room to put in the second panel.
 
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Old 10-27-14, 07:33 PM
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I would not make the existing box a subpanel as it is an older fuse box. I would use the existing box as a junction box and relocate the existing circuits to a new modern 200 amp circuit breaker panel.
 
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Old 10-27-14, 07:43 PM
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These are all some really great ideas, thanks guys.



Here is a picture of the fuse box as it is now. The copper ground wire in the image below comes into the fuse box and is grounded on it. I just dont know yet if there is 2 ground rods or one, that is my project this weekend to dig around and find out.

The fuse box sits on the wall, about eye level for me (6ft 4in) and is centered in about a 6 to 7ft wall. I would say there would be room either side of it to fit another panel, though I will probably have to relocate my water spouts for the washer, no big deal though.

A question regarding the mast, I assume it would be the power companies job to attach the line to a new mast? Some of things being mentioned here are a little concerning to me. What I was hoping would be a job that would run me a couple hundred to a few hundred dollars sounds like it may be more?

I am also interested in this sub panel ideal, any pictures of what this looks like? It sounds like it could be a great way to minimize my down time with out power.
 
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Old 10-27-14, 07:50 PM
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I agree, Joe. Making the old panel a sub is just temporary so you have power back to the house with as little interruption as possible. Once the new panel is energized then transfer the old circuits to the new in a timely manner.
 
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Old 10-27-14, 07:53 PM
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Show us some pictures from a bit farther away so we can see where the new panel might best fit. Also, if you are willing, take some pictures of the existing panel with the cover removed so we can see the guts.
 
  #12  
Old 10-27-14, 08:00 PM
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I will get some photos up this weekend.

I am assuming if I use the old fuse box as a junction box I could also have minimal downtime with out power. I assume doing this I would need to run a new ground wire to the grounding rods, that would go through the junction box and into the new breaker panel.

A.
 
  #13  
Old 10-28-14, 12:35 AM
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Easier to simply install a new grounding electrode system than to try to cobble something up from the existing. You might be able to use the existing rods. If you have a metallic water pipe that is buried for more than ten feet you must also "bond" the grounding electrode conductor to this pipe within five feet of it entering the house.

There are LOTS of details in this job and as was mentioned one of the first things to do is to get the minimum specifications from your serving utility. Often these are published on the web or the utility will mail them to you. Another thing to do early is to find out if your local inspection agency will let a homeowner install a new service. Some will and some won't. Some will require you to take an exam proving your competence.

I also strongly recommend the book, Wiring Simplified which is usually available from the big box mega-mart homecenter or the local hardware store as well as many on-line merchants. Wiring Simplified has been in continuous print for more than fifty years and is updated every three years to coincide with the revised National Electrical Code. The cost is usually less than ten dollars. It is usually found in the electrical aisle and not the books and magazines section.


When I installed a new service in my previous house I was able to make the changeover to the new panel while the utility crew was moving the overhead drop. Of course I had a bit of extra time because a hydraulic hose on their snorkel truck blew and they had to go back to the yard and get a different truck and also some first aid for the man that got sprayed in the face with hydraulic oil.

I'll have more to add once I see the new pictures.
 
  #14  
Old 10-28-14, 02:27 PM
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Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks

A.
Yes, get at least 3 estimates from licensed electricians in your area.
 
  #15  
Old 10-28-14, 02:48 PM
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Dickey, if he's doing it himself as indicated by his replies in the thread why does he need three estimates from electricians?
 
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