Service entrance cable replacement

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  #1  
Old 08-06-17, 12:46 AM
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Service entrance cable replacement

Looking for some opinions on whether or not this is reasonable, it seems quite high to me. A tree fell and took down the overhead wires to may garage. The SEU cable was ripped off the siding about 1/2 way down. No visible damage to the wire, but I assumed that it would need to be replaced. The weather head was broken off the wall. The SUE cable is about 13' long from the weather head to the meter box, 2-2-2 aluminum wire.

I was quoted $1300 to replace the cable, weather head and get it inspected so the power company put the overhead wires back up. Power was added to the garage 4 years ago and I paid $2600 to have the complete service entry, meter box, breaker panel (100 amp) and several outlets wired (4 on each wall, 2 in the ceiling for door openers and 4 switched in the ceiling for lights), do 1/2 that cost was surprising for fix it. When I questioned it, the electrician said that he has to change it to copper in conduit and move the meter box to the same wall as the point of entry to bring it up to NEC code. Right now the meter is on the side of the garage near the front, right where he installed it 4 years ago.

Does this sound right? Did the code change that much in 4 years? I was expecting it to be around $500 or so. When the power company disconnected it, they asked if they could leave the overhead wires by the garage because they're fine and they'll put them back up when I get the service entry fixed. That's aluminum wire, so why does my end have to be switched to copper? Is aluminum SEU no longer OK to use? A second quote is proving hard to get in a small town, I did find someone else, but he said it'll be at least 2 weeks before he could get to me. Until then I'm just trying to get some info. Thanks for any advice.
 
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Old 08-06-17, 06:31 AM
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2-2-2 aluminum is generally rated for 90 amps. Minimum for most residential services is 100 amps.Weather local code allows #2 aluminum is the question. NEC Table 310.15 (B)(7) does allow it from meter to first panel but either the electrician is confused or local code doesn't allow.

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Last edited by ray2047; 08-06-17 at 08:03 AM. Reason: Better answer posted than part of the reply.
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Old 08-06-17, 07:11 AM
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If this is the main feeder to the house then the table Ray posted will apply. No change to copper is required.

the electrician said that he has to change it to copper in conduit and move the meter box to the same wall as the point of entry to bring it up to NEC code
This has been the rule for a very long time and the electrician should have done it on the last job. One thing to note the conductors between the meter and panel can be on the outside of the building any length.

the other quote will be helpful.
 
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Old 08-06-17, 11:52 AM
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This service is for the garage only, so I don't think it requires a minimum of 100 amps. Sorry, I should have been clearer on that. It does have a 100 amp main breaker in the panel though, so this may be an issue. If it is an issue, is it as easy as reducing the main breaker size? I don't really need 100 amp service in my garage to run some lights and 2 garage door openers. The only reason it has a separate service is becasue the garage is almost 200' from the house, but less than 50 ft from the nearest pole. I was told it was the easier/cheaper option to get power right from the pole.

A contractor buddy of mine stopped by this morning and gave me a contact to a local home inspector that is licensed with the power company. I'll give him a call tomorrow. From what he said, there is no damage at all to the SEU cable and he thinks that all it needs is a new weather head and for it to be re-attached to the the garage, then inspected. Fingers crossed on it being that simple, but the inspector will have the final say in that. He also said that he knows of no codes that require the meter to be on the same wall as the point of attachment, almost every house he works on has the overhead cables on the front of the house and the meter on the side near the front.

Thanks for the replies. I'll update when I talk to the inspector.
 
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Old 08-06-17, 01:06 PM
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Minimum service size is 100 amps for a dwelling. The service/wire size is determined by the main breaker. IMO the cost savings to get a smaller breaker is not worth it unless you are replacing the SEU. What you can do will depend on how many branch circuits you have.

A home inspector, one that inspects a house for a sale for example, has no authority. However, if he works for the power company, then he will have some pull on the wires at the point of attachment back to the transformer. You may want to contact the local electrical AHJ.

He also said that he knows of no codes that require the meter to be on the same wall as the point of attachment,
There isn't in the NEC.
 
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Old 08-07-17, 07:04 AM
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Good news for me. The inspector stopped by first thing this morning. For $100, he checked over the service and told me that the SEU cable has no damage and can be reused. Only the weather head needs to be replaced. Everything in my garage is "up to current code". He said that the electrician probably did not want to do such a small job and gave a high quote to avoid it.

He is certified by PA and the power company (PPL) to issue a "Cut-in" card for PPL to hook it back up. There is no problem doing that work myself (no actual wiring involved and the power is disconnected). I can do that this afternoon and it will be an additional $50 for him to come back Thursday to inspect the work and issue a cut-in card.

Very nice guy and seemed to be thorough. He went as far as giving me the part #'s for the weather head and SUE straps stocked at a local supplier. Weather head, straps and screws were a little under $20. So for under $170 total, it looks like I can be back in business safe and legal.
 
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Old 08-07-17, 07:23 AM
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Sounds like you're on the right track. Glad it worked out.
 
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Old 08-07-17, 10:28 AM
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Maybe things are different in PA, but I have never heard of having to pay for the local AHJ inspector to stop by. Are the charges in lieu of a permit? The only charges I am familiar with are for re-inspections after something has failed.
 
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Old 08-07-17, 03:24 PM
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The way it should have worked was, I hire an electrician and the costs of any permits/inspections are included in the bill and they make the arrangements for that stuff. The inspector normally comes out when the work is done, and gives the power company the OK to hook it up. Inspectors here are private business's certified by the state and power company, they are not employees of either. He does all kinds of inspections, radon, chimney, roofs, etc. This is info I just learned this week BTW, so I'm far form an expert.

PA does a lot of odd things like that. No bad, just different. I've been living here about 9 years now, the DMV was very confusing at first. If you want to register a car, you find a local notary that is certified with the state to issue license plates. I walked in, was offered coffee and donuts, sat in a nice comfy chair and the woman got me the correct form and went over it with me, I paid and walked out with plates. I lived in NY and MO before here and I dreaded going to the DMV. Here it has always been a pleasant experience.

Anyway, the inspector I hired is a private business, so I am totally fine paying him to come out and verify what needed to be done, I don't expect anything for free. I'm glad I did, it saved me from an insurance claim. I've hired electricians a few times in my life and never had an issue with the work or price, this time something felt wrong. The storms lately caused all kinds of problems around here and every other electrician I called was booked for weeks.
 
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Old 08-07-17, 04:33 PM
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Sounds to me like he is an inspector (sub contractor) for the power company. That would be different then an inspector for the state/city/local AHJ.

He said that the electrician probably did not want to do such a small job and gave a high quote to avoid it.
I would agree with that statement.
 
 

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