Meter pan-main circuit breaker coming off wall.

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  #1  
Old 12-27-14, 08:31 AM
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Meter pan-main circuit breaker coming off wall.

Hello folks,

I have a situation where my circuit breaker is becoming detached from my stucco siding. As you can see in the attachment below, it is ripping off the side of the house. I'm not really a stucco guy or even a fix it yourself kind of person, but it appears as though the previous residence have attempted a "fix" which involved basically re-stuccoing it back on the last time it fell down. The leading theory is that during heavy rains, the water runs underground, shifting the earth and causing the tubes holding the electric wires to adjust which in turn pulls the circuit breaker off more and more.

With that said, I have a couple questions for you more knowledgeable folks:

1) Could this possibly be the responsibility of the electrical company, i.e. can I get them to fix it for me?
2) What is the best solution to this problem given that I intend to live in this house for the next 10 years. Basically, what would you folks do?

Thank you very much in advance for the assistance with this problem. If you need any more information, please let me know.

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  #2  
Old 12-27-14, 08:46 AM
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Welcome to the forums.

Actually this is an electrical question. That meter/disconnect panel is your responsibility as well as the underground conduit. Your first step should be to call an electrician. Depending on how much spare wire is involved they may be able to install an expansion coupling under that panel. It would require the power company shutting off the power first.
 
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Old 12-27-14, 09:12 AM
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The ground settling under the socket should not be able to pull the socket off the substrate under the stucco.

I agree that an expansion fitting needs to be installed.
 
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Old 12-27-14, 10:12 AM
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IMO it does not appear to me that the panel is coming off the wall, just that the caulking between the stucco and panel is failing. The steel and stucco are quite different materials so they expand and contract at different rates, which is why it appears to have failed before. The panel itself is likely attached to the wood behind the stucco and then the stucco was installed around it.

I suggest removing any loose material and re-caulk around the panel.

If installations in AZ are anything like they are here, the wires coming into the panel are the power companies, the panel is yours. The pipe going down into the ground is likely only 24"+ down into the ground and the wires are directly buried in the ground. An expansion fitting would be no help.
 
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Old 12-27-14, 12:49 PM
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IMO it does not appear to me that the panel is coming off the wall, just that the caulking between the stucco and panel is failing. The steel and stucco are quite different materials so they expand and contract at different rates, which is why it appears to have failed before. The panel itself is likely attached to the wood behind the stucco and then the stucco was installed around it.
I agree with this. Different power companies have different rules, but it has become increasingly common for the homebuilder's electrical contractor to install the conduit to the pole/transformer per POCO's specifications and the power company pulls in their wire. We used to have direct burial service laterals between house and pole here too, but that all changed in the '80s, now it's conduit all the way. I would suggest the OP call a residential electrical contractor and have them look at it and make a recommendation.
 
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Old 12-27-14, 01:49 PM
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Hello folks,

I took a few more pictures to help describe the situation a little more. I think these pictures show that there is some sort of counter-clockwise torque on the box (see attachments 1 and 2). If you look at the upper left hand corner, the box is coming out of the wall and almost coming over the stucco. Also, the right side of the box has a gap where the box was sealed to the stucco.

attachments 1, 2, and 3
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In addition, it appears that this may have been caused by the ground settling because the ground near the conduit appears to have fallen some which would in turn pull the box down with it. Also, the conduit itself appears to have stretched because the painted tape is separated.

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Old 12-27-14, 01:53 PM
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That would indicate a full buried conduit... not just a stub. That will probably require an expansion coupler. I still think you should bring in an electrician for an opinion.

They must have used plenty of glue as usually the connections separate.
 
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Old 12-27-14, 06:44 PM
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You very well may need an expansion fitting, but your contractor will probably make that recommendation when he comes out to look at it. It will be a tricky part to install.
 
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Old 12-27-14, 08:21 PM
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Much earthquake activity near you? Heavy trucks rumbling by? Limestone caves nearby, to make you suspect a sinkhole? I'd ask about frost except you're in Arizona..... My condo is 40 years old and I've lived here 20 years, watching my back doorway change shape over time. Slow but sure and continuous. Neighbor has similar phenomenon. I don't know whether it's from frost heaving or the semis on the interstate. It involves the metal storm door frame but not the wooden house door frame, and fortunately there are no electric considerations.
 
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Old 12-29-14, 02:47 PM
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After some chipping away of the sealant in the upper left hand corner, I found a mounting bracket with a wood screw which was not installed - you can sort of see that it is hiding just under the surface in the photo. So, either the screw was worked loose somehow, or not installed correctly; it may have been too short, I'm not sure. Also, I will need to remove some of the stucco to be able to see if the screw was ripped out. The electrician I spoke to recommended removing the sealant and some stucco in order to remount the box and the mounting bracket.
 
  #11  
Old 12-29-14, 02:58 PM
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By looking at your photos it certainly appears that you have two problems occurring. In the first place the box obviously was never mounted correctly because of what you found and the fact that if mounted correctly it would never come loose from the wall. Secondly it appears that your ground is settling. I couldn't tell from the picture but you said with tape pulling apart almost looks like flexible conduit that is separating, if that's the case it will definitely have to be replaced! I'm afraid it's going to turn into a much bigger project than you are anticipating.
 
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