I need to do some painting and gutter repair in the vicinity of our
aeriel service entrance.
I have called the electric company and they will be WRAPPING the wires
Do I still need to use a non-aluminum ladder or will the wrapping
protect me? (as long as I don't do something really dumb...)
(note I asked the electric company but because of liability concerns
they couldn't advise me either way -- gotta love our litigious society...)
Typically the overhead service drop conductors are already insulated. I
would have some concern if they are not. It would certainly be safer if you
can get a hold of a wood or fiberglass ladder, but I would be more concerned
about handling an aluminum leader or gutter near the wires. Do wear gloves
Disclaimer: Not having seen your particular situation there could be
As noted, the service drop conductors are normally insulated to begin
with. When the utility "wraps" them they usually drop on the same heavy
orange rubber sectional insulating sleeves they use on the primary lines
which run 100X+ the voltage of your service drop.
The most significant risks to watch out for would normally be:
- Ladder stability / falls
- The possibility of hitting the insulated service drop cables with a
gutter section (or similar) sharp enough to cut through the insulation
and make contact with the wire.
A non conductive ladder, preferably fiberglass, though dry wood is
adequately non conductive for residential service drop voltages of 120V
FWIW I prefer wood ladders although a lot of contractors now prohibit
anything but fiberglas on job sites. Apparently they are concerned
about wood ladders cracking and causing incidents for which they may
be held liable. I think this may also be a current OSHA requirement.
Not sure you'll see one, I suspect carbon fiber would have conductivity
issues. Wouldn't put it past some Chinese company to produce a Faux
carbon fiber stepladder for the home market though. As for crying, I
just don't get that attached to material things. When I put the first
good scratch in my new truck it was just a "now it's a real truck"
Accidents happen, sometimes they're dumb mistakes, other times, well,
it's just an unforeseeable accident.
If the wires are wrapped, the odds of getting fried are low, but since
the outcome of coming out on the losing end of those odds is the same
- you're likely dead - why would you take the risk?
Don't be this guy:
Borrow a fiberglass ladder. It's not worth taking chances.
A friend once contacted the supply lines behind his house with an
aluminum ladder. He spent many weeks in the hospital. Don't be like my
friend. I remember a newspaper story from my home town about elementary
kids chasing a rabbit into a 6" aluminum irrigation pipe at a school
playground. They lifted it up to dump the rabbit out, but didn't watch
the power lines. They didn't live.
I've (accidentally) grabbed hot wires while standing on a fiberglass
ladder without noticing they were hot. It's not pleasant when I'm on an
only use a fiberglass ladder........ safety first
ask the power company if they can temporarily disconnect you at the
power off will be safer, and run extension cord from friendly neighbor
if you need power.......
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