Replacement of old MAIN all-fuse panel with a circut breaker panel

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I have installed CB sub-panels many a times with no problem because I can disconnect the live wires at the main panel. In the old house I am fixing, I need to replace the all-fuse MAIN panel with a new CB panel. Do I need to contact the power company to disconnect the juice, or is there another way of doing it? I do not want to mess with the 240 volt supply because it may hurt a bit (i.e., kill me). BTW: how do certified electricians go about disconnecting the live wires before doing a similar job? Thanks
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You contract the power company to come and remove the electric meter. That disconnects the entire house so you better have battery operated tool to do your job. THe power company may let you reinstall the meter if you act competent enough to do it without killing yourself. It just pulls straight out after you remove the metal band that holds the meter in place and which has a metal tag/seal holding it in place so you cannot bypass the meter without them knowing the seal was broken.
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Each power company has it's own rules. If you don't have a permit, a common dodge is to say you are replacing a defective main breaker and you need to cut the seal. and pull the meter. They may just say OK and come seal it later. Other POCOs want to read the meter before you cut the seal and they may want to take it with them. It really depend a lot on their local fraud experience. It is a lot better to just pull the permit and have it inspected if your building department will let you do it yourself. Then you will have a record for your insurance company and selling the house might go easier down the road.
Worst case, cut the seal, pull the meter, do the work and put the meter back in. Call them and say some vandal cut your meter seal. I doubt they would buy that.
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On Sun, 09 May 2010 23:40:21 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I guess not too many vandals vandalize seals.
Once, when I didn't get around to paying my bill, my power was disconnected. I rushed out and paid the bill, but then I wondered when they would actually reconnect me. So there must have been a seal that I cut; and I pulled out the meter, removed the plastic prong covers, and put back the meter. And then made dinner. The guy came an hour later and I told him someone else had come already. Later I realized -- at least I think so -- that he was the only one doing my area, and he knew no one else had come. But he hadn't said anything. I suppose to himself he just smiled, or cursed me for being a liar. Of course he probably knew I'd been disconnected for failure to pay, and he had no reason to think I'd been messing with the breaker box, but would he have cared if he'd thought that?
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I am a friend who is "in the business" (electrician.)
He told me he NEVER coordinates with the power company ahead of time.
When he needs to, he pulls the meter and does the job. When it's safe to put the meter back he calls the power company with a song and dance about it being an "emergency." They put the meter back with the seal, etc.
On "This Old House" an electrician taped the power line BEFORE the meter box and used it to power up a outlet box to supply essential loads. The guy actually does the hot wiring while standing on a fiberglass ladder. He touched only one wire at a time but his body was 120 volts! (I guess it's a local thing.)
My friend often replaces panels with CB boxes without pulling the meter. He NEVER (at least deliberately) touches a hot wire. If he needs, say, an insulated allen wrench, he will wrap the part he will hold with LOTS of electrical tape. Once he has disconnected a service wire he wraps the exposed end with lots and lots of tape.
When it's time to reconnect he cuts off the tape with an knive which which has been "helped" with more tape.

Beyond a point, they have nothing to gain by making a fuss. They can't claim "theft of services" because you are paying. It's at most a technical violation of their service teriffs. Since they are in the business of selling electricity, it's silly to disconnect a paying customer just for spite.

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They won't make a fuss with the customer, other than assessing any fees authorized by the public utility overseers in your state...
However, they can and will go after the professional with the electrical license with the public utility people or the state electrical board and have his "ticket" punched... That is not out of spite... It is out of a desire to protect the integrity of their metering equipment and distribution of services...
Not "wanting" to call ahead to have power company employees come out and pull the meter and making a bogus claim of "it was an emergency" won't fly after the second time...
~~ Evan
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Most often replacing the main panel REQUIRES replacing the service drop, cables age, conductors too short, espically since new main panels MUST be mouted to a wood panel, to minimize rusting, and its generally best to go to 200 amps, and a new meter can, costs little more and future proofs the install.
ALL this REQUIRES disconnecting the main before the meter, which can be safely done by a electrician.
Or have the power company do it.
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Evan wrote:

You are generalizing from what may (or may not) be the practice where you are.
I cut seals when needed and called the utility metering department within a day or two. The utility had no problem with that.
I doubt utilities would have problems with licensed electricians cutting seals and then telling them. A licensed electrician is going to be involved in a fraud?
--
bud--

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It is trespassing, not fraud, the customer whose house the electric meter is installed in does not own or control the meter cabinet once the meter is installed... It is sealed with a tamper evident seal and once closed you need to call and obtain permission from the power company to access what is inside of the meter cabinet...
Just because your local utility company has made a practice of not making a major case out of it in the past has no bearing on whether they can if they wanted to...
Why do you think some of the utility companies out there use those high security metal bands and medeco locks on their meter enclosures ? It is to keep everybody but the power company out... Electricians have the ability to cut into the service drop lines if they need to kill the power where they can reconnect them without trespassing in power company enclosures...
Just because the power company has not resorted to using the metal bands around the meter and the medeco high security pin locks on the cabinet box doesn't mean you should cut the meter seal off and do whatever you want -- your customer does not have the right to give you permission to open that locked enclosure while the power company seal is in place and intact...
~~ Evan
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Evan wrote:

This 'does too- does not' argument is pointless. It obviously varies by area. IANAL, but I do not think the term 'trespass' applies- more like 'violating terms of service'. My recommendation to anyone, home owner or licensed electrician, would be to pick up the phone and CALL the power company. A local tradesman is likely known to them from previous jobs, so they will say 'okay, got it', and move on. A homeowner, on the other hand, they may want to send a truck out to pull the meter, since they have no way of knowing if the homeowner knows what he is doing, even if he uses all the right words on the phone. And in my limited experience, some of those meters are surprisingly heavy, and the prongs can grab awful hard sometimes. If you don't pull it out or put it back squarely and firmly, some scary noises are possible. (I used to set up and take down temporary poles on the job sites as a kid. They didn't always have a working or unlocked kill switch on the pole. Somebody breaks the feed from temporary pole to house, sometimes pulling the meter was the only way to kill power before stepping into the mud puddle to recover the loose wire.)
--
aem sends...

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if replacing the main panel most likely you will need to upgrade the amp capacity and or replace the service drop and meter can.
these all require disconnecting at the service head something only electricians or power company workers should do!!
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On Sat, 15 May 2010 21:14:53 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"

Again, I ask - WHY would I need to upgrade the capacity when changing my 100 amp fused panel to breakers???? My load hasn't changed - I'll hve roughly the same number of circuits. my (underground) power feed is AT LEAST 1 100 amp feed. (the vast majority in my area were provisioned with 200 amp feeds, because the "all electric" home was very much in vogue when this house was built in the seventies)

And in my case would require extensive trenching etc IF an upgrade was required (which it isn't)
One day I'll likely end up replacing my panel with a breaker panel, even though fuse panels are more "reliable"
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On May 16, 1:10pm, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

You do eventually want to sell your house someday, yes ?
Mortgage companies often want to see at least a 200 Amp electric service to the house to underwrite a new mortgage on the property at the change of ownership... Same deal applies on houses with septic systems, they have to be up to snuff on size and ability to perc properly or no dice on a new mortgage...
Try getting a new mortgage or selling a property using fuse panels which are "more reliable" you will not be able to get financing for a new mortgage until the old electric service equipment is upgraded to a circuit breaker panel with a minimum of a 200 Amp capacity... Unless you are going to be selling the property in a private cash sale which is a VERY rare thing, the mortgage company rules and FHA lending guidelines apply...
I have seen several house sales in my area fall through based on older septic systems which would have required replacement for the person attempting to buy the property to get financing to go through with the sale... Septic is like a $25k deal to get the whole thing done from start to finish with all the song and dance you have to go through with the environmental people and all the testing you have to do before you even break ground...
If you are going to be spending money to upgrade and modernize your house you may as well do it right the first time rather than be faced with ripping out your work in the future under some sort of deadline to try and get a sale of the property approved by the mortgage company...
~~ Evan
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On Sun, 16 May 2010 11:15:55 -0700 (PDT), Evan

100 amp is more than adequate unless you have electric heat - no problem selling or financing 100 amp service in a typical home here in central Ontario. They don't like aluminum wiring. Or iron pipes.

Nope - no problem with 100 amp fuse panel- can't sell a 40 or a 60 though - fused or not. ANd generally not a financing problem - it's an insurance problem - and without insurance you don't get financing.

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You're just a frickin twit.
First the bs about pulling a meter. Now he's got to upgrade to 200amp or he can't sell his house.
If it's a smaller house and has other utlities for heat 100 amp service is fine.
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Evan wrote:

You're so full of shit saying the (alleged) practices where you are (and (alleged) code enforcement where you are) applies everywhere.
The utility here has no problems with my cutting seals and telling them. Roy says that applies for one of his utilities. A number of people have said they have no problems with their utilities. Your rant doesn't change reality.

Around here extraordinary sealing is only done where the utility has evidence of tampering.

This is even stupider. I don't really think the utility wants me to remake *their* connection from their drop to the customer wires. And I sure as hell don't want to make the connection unless I really have to (like a service change). Service wires are dangerous - maybe 10,000A available current (residential) and minimal protection from the utility. OSHA has strong opinions about working on such wires.
You have multiple people telling you the same thing. Another case of everyone-is-wrong-but-Evan.
--
bud--

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wrote:

They won't make a fuss with the customer, other than assessing any fees authorized by the public utility overseers in your state...
However, they can and will go after the professional with the electrical license with the public utility people or the state electrical board and have his "ticket" punched... That is not out of spite... It is out of a desire to protect the integrity of their metering equipment and distribution of services...
Not "wanting" to call ahead to have power company employees come out and pull the meter and making a bogus claim of "it was an emergency" won't fly after the second time...
~~ Evan
I agree with Bud, you can't generalize these things. Where I work, there are three electric utility companies within 20 miles of me. Each has specific requirements for disconnecting and reconnecting service equipment. The most lax of the three, similar to Bud, only requires me to notify them after I've cut a meter seal, the most stringent utility company, requires verbal and written notification, using specific forms before they send someone to the job and remove their case hardened hydraulic lock from their customer's meter box.
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On 5/9/2010 9:47 PM, Hat wrote:

pop the seal, remove the meter from the can, then when you get it all back together, put the meter back in, and hang the broken seal on it. Chances are, they never come out to read the meter anyway, and if they do, they'll just put a new seal on it.
--
Steve Barker
remove the "not" from my address to email
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Steve Barker wrote:

Or, if you want to be real radical, you could call the power company and ask them how they prefer to handle it. They want to make it happen. They don't want to block these updates. They may just tell you to cut the seal, and remove the meter as you need.
When I did it, they removed the seal. I did the work, got it inspected, and they came back, installed new wires to the new head, removed the old wires, and connected up the meter and seal.
IIRC, I disconnected the old bex from the wall, pulled it out of the way, installed the new head, conduit, meter box, wires to the head, and breaker box. I wired jumpers from the old box mains to the new box. Then I transfered wires for each circuit from the old box to the new when I had the time. Power was down for a minimal time. When they installed the new power, I removed the jumpers and the old box.
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As others have said, you can pull the meter, if the particular utility company you're dealing with doesn't have a lock on it. This will work provided you are not going to increase the amperage of the current service. If your new main is going to be of higher amperage then what's existing, you'll probably have to replace the meter box and standpipe as well. In some areas, I suppose, the utility company kills power for you. In NY, where I am, the electricians cut and rebug the service connections.
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