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House service entrance - anything I can do to prolong life?

House service entrance - anything I can do to prolong life?

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  #1  
Old 09-05-20, 05:16 PM
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House service entrance - anything I can do to prolong life?

When I was getting quotes for a main panel change, I had a couple of electricians look at the service drop and entrance. Neither thought there was a pressing need to do anything outside, though one thought it would be a good idea to add a ground rod (which I'm doing, two rods). Curious what the resident pros think and what I can or should do to prolong life of the service.

@PJmax, below are better pics of the connector at top of meter pan you noticed in my thread on grounding rods.

This is the aerial drop connection to my house.

One of the sparkies said the bug nut connections aren't correct and that I could probably get the utility to redo that connection using their connectors. Seems a bit strange how the SE cable is brought out past the roof overhang, but both sparkies said that's just the way it was done back then. Going down the cable, where it is attached to the house, there's a big blob of what looks to be duct seal.

So this pipe was installed just to protect the cable, not as a proper conduit with terminations on either end. When it was first installed, the pipe must have been sitting up a couple of inches higher such that the top of the pipe was in contact with the duct seal.

Since the pipe slid down, the bottom of the pipe is now resting on the waterproof connector on top of the meter pan:

Both sparkies thought the connector looked to be in good condition. And both noted the relative lack of rust on the pan. Also no rust on the main panel, which was there for at least 2 decades. As I understand it, once water gets in, the meter pan will rust relatively quickly and water traveling down the cable into panel will rust the hot bus bars. So it seems things are good in terms of water tightness.

But apparently the pipe should be an inch or so above the waterproof connector. And it was at the time the electricians looked at it. I think this handling of it broke the half-plug of whatever goop or duct seal the installer used to keep the pipe off the waterproof connector. One of the sparkies mentioned that the ball of duct seal at the top of the pipe shouldn't have been used. He said the idea was the pipe is only there to protect against physical damage, so keep it open at the top, let water run down, hit the waterproof connector and fall off the meter pan.

You can see rust from the pipe on the back side:


And here I lifted the pipe up, so we're looking at the SE cable.


Maybe I should lift the pipe up an inch above the connector and hold it in place using a half plug of duct seal (half, to leave room for water to exit the pipe)? That way water isn't sitting in the bottom of the pipe right on the connector?

And as one of the sparkies suggested, no duct seal at the top of the pipe? Wouldn't it make sense to minimize the water getting into the pipe in the first place? So less water runs down pipe and makes contact with waterproof connector?

And here's just south of the meter pan, where the SE cable enters the house.



I guess that's very old duct seal. Maybe I should pull/scrape/pry that off and apply new duct seal?


 
  #2  
Old 09-05-20, 07:43 PM
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It's rare that I do a panel change without changing the service. I see a couple of issues. The neutral coming out of the head is too short. The Poco should have added a tail onto the neutral so that a drip loop was maintained. The service head also needs to be mounted to the rakeboard. It's not supposed to be floating. Maybe just mounting the head will gain enough neutral cable.

The sleeve for the cable requires no duct seal. There should be fresh duct seal directly on the gland on top of the meter. The sleeve should not rest on the gland.

Technically since your service is on brick.... it should have been a full conduit service from top to bottom..... at least that's what I would have done. The cost is slightly higher.... but not much.
 
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  #3  
Old 09-05-20, 09:39 PM
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The neutral coming out of the head is too short. The Poco should have added a tail onto the neutral so that a drip loop was maintained. The service head also needs to be mounted to the rakeboard. It's not supposed to be floating. Maybe just mounting the head will gain enough neutral cable.
I'll have to look, but maybe the weatherhead was secured to the rakeboard initially, but came off some years later.

The sleeve for the cable requires no duct seal. There should be fresh duct seal directly on the gland on top of the meter. The sleeve should not rest on the gland.
What you're referring to as a gland is what I'm calling a waterproof connector - the seal around the cable as it enters the meter pan? So I should put fresh duct seal on top of that gland; can do. But the sleeve shouldn't rest on the gland+duct seal either, correct? So maybe use some duct seal to hold the sleeve an inch above the gland+duct seal?

I understand it's not required, but why not duct seal the top of the sleeve? I guess it wouldn't make a difference whether sleeve flows down the inside or outside of the sleeve?

Technically since your service is on brick.... it should have been a full conduit service from top to bottom..... at least that's what I would have done. The cost is slightly higher.... but not much.
That would have been nice. And I can see some of my neighbors who've had the service upgraded in the last 10-15 years have pvc conduit from the weatherhead all the way to the service entry.

I was kind of surprised that neither electrician who came to give an estimate felt like I needed to update the exterior service (other than the minor things they pointed out that I referred to in first post). The second guy volunteered that he wouldn't change the exterior service unless I felt like spending more money.
 
  #4  
Old 09-06-20, 05:56 AM
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In my area, SE cable is never used for a service on the line side of the meter and rarely on the load side of the meter. On the line side, we always use EMT if the mast does not go through the soffit/roof. If it does go through the soffit/roof we use IMC. Typically we use PVC between the meter and the main panel. I know SE cable is used in many places in the country but I think it is a very poor way to install a service.
 
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Old 09-06-20, 07:50 AM
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Hi, if SE is installed correctly there is nothing wrong with it, used a lot in NE., also seems like it would have been money well spent to have that mess cleaned up.
Geo🇺🇸
 
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  #6  
Old 09-06-20, 08:16 AM
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The regional situation is odd. In the SE, by far more CBS walls with piped service. In the NE, far more stick and vinyl sided homes with SE cable. If that SE burns down, the wall will be close behind. Luckily, rare.
 
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Old 09-06-20, 09:37 AM
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SE is the rule around here. I would never enter the top of the socket, but I see it done in other areas.

There should have been a bushing around both ends of the metallic sleeve to protect the cable from abrasion. The weatherhead also needs to be secured.
 
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Old 09-06-20, 12:41 PM
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I'm a little confused by some of the responses. To clarify, this is not a recent installation; it's at least 2 decades old. Newer installations around here (and by newer, I mean anything in the last 15 years or so) use PVC conduit from the weatherhead down to the service entrance into the house.

I just want to see what I can do to maximize the life of the service. It's 100A service, but there is no need to upgrade to larger service since we have nat gas. And at some point, we'll have solar panels installed, so that will further cap usage.
 

Last edited by cartman; 09-06-20 at 01:06 PM.
  #9  
Old 09-06-20, 12:45 PM
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There should have been a bushing around both ends of the metallic sleeve to protect the cable from abrasion.
That makes sense to me. But as one of the electricians who looked at it told me, the metallic sleeve should not be sealed at the top - he was pointing out that the ball of duct seal at the top of the sleeve shouldn't have been used.

@PJmax seems to agree:
The sleeve for the cable requires no duct seal.
I don't understand why that is, but if multiple electricians are saying this, they must have good reason.

And if I seal just the bottom of the sleeve, then water will collect inside, so it would seem to me you either seal both ends, or you seal neither, or you seal top only. But this is only my layman's intuition and electricians are saying differently.
 
  #10  
Old 09-06-20, 01:23 PM
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Hi, it would appear that conduit has slid down to top of that meter socket , unless that duct seal was slid up, I would try and slide that conduit up a bit and tighten or replace that clip so that it holds tighter, there should be duct seal packed around that wet connector on top of the meter, sealing the top of the conduit canít hurt one way or the other.
straighten that SE clip on the siding and resecure that weather head.

Geo🇺🇸
 
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  #11  
Old 09-06-20, 05:04 PM
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Weatherhead secured. As @PJmax suspected, securing weatherhead to rakeboard provided sufficient slack to create a drip loop in the neutral wire.


Hi, it would appear that conduit has slid down to top of that meter socket , unless that duct seal was slid up, I would try and slide that conduit up a bit and tighten or replace that clip so that it holds tighter, there should be duct seal packed around that wet connector on top of the meter, sealing the top of the conduit can’t hurt one way or the other.
straighten that SE clip on the siding and resecure that weather head.
Yes, the metal sleeve slid down. The one strap securing it is broken. I'll pick up a couple of two-hole straps and some tapcons and secure the sleeve an inch or so above the gland at the top of meter base. And yes, I'll duct seal around that gland. Yeah, I bent that SE clip on the siding into place, thanks.
 
  #12  
Old 09-06-20, 05:08 PM
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I'll see if I can get utility to redo the connections. The electrical tape is slowly working its way off. And obviously I'm not touching this.

 
  #13  
Old 09-07-20, 12:05 PM
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Seems a bit strange how the SE cable is brought out past the roof overhang, but both sparkies said that's just the way it was done back then.
I have never ever seen a service like this one, rarely do I ever see such a sloppy mess. SE cable can and is installed neatly every day so it isn't because this is SE cable. That being said, I always avoided using SE cable of any kind if I could. I would have installed this service in EMT.
 
 

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