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Water entering service panel from 200 amp main has caused corrosion?

Water entering service panel from 200 amp main has caused corrosion?

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  #1  
Old 04-03-15, 03:23 AM
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Water entering service panel from 200 amp main has caused corrosion?

Hello. We recently had to make an emergency house purchase (The vacant duplex attached to our home had extensive mold and was killing us, literally). Being of limited means we were fortunate to find a home that we could spend our maintainance fund on, meaning every cent we had. At any rate our "new" home was built in the 1920's and after checking the wiring I've nicknamed it "The Deco Deathtrap", mainly due to a limited amount of knob and tube wiring (insulated knob and tube, so far), cloth-insulated wiring, uncovered junction boxes, tape-splices in the open, etc. I'm like a super-handy man, I have a "wire snake" and I'm not afraid to use it. That being the intro here is my first question:

During a recent wind driven rain storm I noticed water dripping from the main circuit panel. After it stopped raining and a couple days later I took the cover off and left it off. I've determined that the water is coming in from the 200 amp service wire (it ran inside the insulation and then came up into the box and puddled on the bottom-the main is bottom fed=its a bottom feeder). So I checked the meter and its probably coming in through there, no problem to stop that. However, I also noticed that the drop apppears to run downward and uphill to our service head, which is directly beneath the eave, nearly 50 feet up (I'm not certain if that is possible, it was dark when I looked). So the rain could be coming in from the head from water flowing/wicking down the drop. I think I can address the water infiltration and make it stop. Here's the big deal: There appears to be some kind of white colored fungus looking stuff growing on the stranded aluminum ground wire, just where it enters the bottom of the service panel. It isn't completely engulfed, it appears to be a small percentage, towards the front, confined to the surface of the strands. I can't tell if its fungus or corrosion. None of the strands of aluminum are severed. I will upload a picture if possible. Keep in mind, there will be no high powered electricians visiting anytime soon, unless they are the kind that do work out of the goodness of thier heart. Here are my questions:

1.a. Can I use a toothbrush, soap and water to carefully scrub the white stuff off of the aluminum ground? (while the main circuit breaker is switched off)
1.b. If so is there any kind of suitable cleaning agent that I might use to facilitate?
1.c. If I sucessfully (or not) clean this fungus/corrosion off of the ground wire would it be reasonable to use the toothbrush to apply some kind of anti-corrosion substance onto the exposed aluminum ground wire? I have a boatload of NOALOX (for combining aluminum and copper wire together). Its conductive though, but its also something that would prevent corrosion. (or any suggestions)...

2. If water was running through the meter would the damage cause my bill to be higher?

3. If water is running through the service head via the drop would the electric company be obliged to remedy the situation at no cost to me? i.e. reroute the drop into a more suitable arrangement.

I plan on contacting the electirc company to have them check the meter so that it doesn't burn our house down.

Well, I hope I haven't forgotten anything. Thanks in advance for your help, suggestions and thoughts. Best regards to you and yours.

PS The debris in the bottom of my panel was caused by me, I've been busy.

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  #2  
Old 04-03-15, 05:22 AM
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Seal that wet connector on top of the meter with silicone,that is where the water is getting in,if that cable is bottom feeding your panel and water is not dripping directly on that corroded spot then that cable is probably full of water,good plan to have the POCO check that meter socket,none of which is their problem,and it won't raise your utility bill.
You can use a tooth tooth brush to try and clean that crud off ,but changing that cable out may need to be replaced at some point.
Geo

Geo
 
  #3  
Old 04-03-15, 06:50 AM
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1.a. Can I use a toothbrush, soap and water to carefully scrub the white stuff off of the aluminum ground? (while the main circuit breaker is switched off)
It's aluminum oxide (a.k.a. corroded aluminum). You could scrub it off, but it won't solve anything nor will it hurt anything to leave it there. The entire length of the service cable is probably filled with water, and therefore in some state of corrosion anyway. You should definitely seal up the top of the meter base better as that is most likely where the bulk of the water is coming in.

I have a boatload of NOALOX (for combining aluminum and copper wire together).
That's not what Noalox is for. Copper and aluminum wire should never be joined directly together, with or without corrosion inhibitor. Noalox is for protecting the stripped portion of aluminum wires when they are terminated onto properly-rated lugs.

2. If water was running through the meter would the damage cause my bill to be higher?
Not your electric bill, but if the meter base has been damaged it is your responsibility to replace or repair it. The power company will usually do the disconnect/reconnect at the weatherhead for free to allow you or your electrician to do the repairs safely.

3. If water is running through the service head via the drop would the electric company be obliged to remedy the situation at no cost to me? i.e. reroute the drop into a more suitable arrangement.
No. The meter base, service cable, mast, attachment point and weatherhead are the homeowner's responsibility. The power company owns the cable from the pole to the house and the meter itself. The rest is part of the house.
 
  #4  
Old 04-03-15, 07:56 PM
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There appears to be some kind of white colored fungus looking stuff growing on the stranded aluminum ground wire
That isn't your ground wire, that's your neutral conductor.
 
  #5  
Old 04-06-15, 09:08 PM
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Gosh darn, your right! Its all about perspective I suppose or not paying attention. Good eye!
 
  #6  
Old 04-06-15, 09:43 PM
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I know you don't want to hire an electrician but what you have is a very dangerous situation. Your whole panel box could short and catch on fire. We had a situation like you did and our electrician had to loop the wire from the outside to keep water from entering our panel box. All of which by code can't be properly repaired by the homeowner and should be handled by a qualified electrician as soon as possible.
 
  #7  
Old 04-07-15, 05:25 AM
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I don't know why power companies allow a connection like that at the top of the socket. They seem to always lead to leaks down the road.
 
  #8  
Old 04-07-15, 11:30 AM
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I don't know why power companies allow a connection like that at the top of the socket. They seem to always lead to leaks down the road.
I agree with you pcboss our meter box is like that outside but the loop up inside of the house and into the panel box did the trick. Once water is inside of your panel box though that is very dangerous and as I said should be handled by a qualified electrician.
 
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