Service Entrance Cable -- Repair Insulation?

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I'm a big fan of silicon tape, I think it's called. One stretches it to 2 or 3 times its length before wrapping it around something. Overlap it. Then in a couple days, it turns into one piece of "rubber". It certainly won't leak between the layers, and probably not between the bottom layer and they cable. It's expensive** and one roll doesn't go very far (it's thicker than most tapes) and she might need more than one roll.
**Although last year they had some sort of cheaper stretchable tape at home depot. I used it but I don't think I checked it later. The expensive one is wrapped on a white plastic spool, not a cardboard spool.
And if the cable is right up against the wall, it might be impossible to get the tape behind it.
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On 3/21/2015 11:04 AM, TomR wrote:

the yellow pages under electrical parts and supplies. Call a couple places, see what they reccomend. The available parts, legal trips and local advice will vary from place to place. A northern cloudy area might (for example) say to use repair tape. Where a bright sunny area like southern AZ might require to replace sun cracked cable. We can't see it from here.
Western NY, USA, I do know of two residences which had cracked cables from the pole to the house, which required to be replace. And the power was off, for a couple days at each of them.
- . Christopher A. Young learn more about Jesus . www.lds.org . .
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Thanks all for your replies.
I went to look at the Service Entrance Cable today and I took some photos. The cable has two distinct damaged areas as shown in the two photos below. I also took a photo of the meter but I decided not to post it since it is not my house and the photo shows the meter number etc.
This is in New Jersey (South Jersey) in the PSE&G service area. In this area, the utility company owns the "drop" that goes from the pole at the street to where it attaches to the house up near the roof line. From that point down is owned by, and is the responsibility of, the homeowner -- with the exception of the meter itself. The utility company owns the meter. On this property, the Service Entrance Cable runs down along the house and into the top of the meter box. Another cable/conduit comes out of the bottom of the meter box and goes into the house to the main electric panel.
Here are the photos of the two damaged areas on the Service Entrance Cable:
http://tinypic.com/r/t7jpd5/8 http://tinypic.com/r/wr10eg/8
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wrote:

not.
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Oops, I'm not sure that the links above worked. Here is another try of posting the two photos:
http://i61.tinypic.com/t7jpd5.jpg
http://i57.tinypic.com/wr10eg.jpg
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On 3/21/2015 10:16 PM, TomR wrote:

Looks like the outer covering is deteriorating. While you can get away with small patches short term, the rest will be going to crap soon.
I'd consider conduit, but there may be some sort of flexible wrap made for that. Check this out. http://www.conduitrepair.com/product_splitDuctConduit.html
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Interesting idea about the split conduit. I'll write more later. Heading out now and won't be at a computer until later tonight.
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After looking at the pics, I can see that cable insilation is very brittle. It's been baked by the sun. That link to the split duct conduit looks ideal. I have never seen that stuff before. That looks like a great solution. Or loosen it and use regular conduit after the power is shut off. But if that Flexseal works as good as the tv commericals (I never used it), that would be a quick and low cost temporary repair, until a permanent repair can be made with conduit. Even silicone caulk would probably work for short term.
BTW: Walmart sells that Flexseal cheaper than the S+H on the commercials.
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This stuff does look pretty good. Don't forget OP that unless the conduit bends easily, and I sort of doubt it does, you'll need a bigger ID than just the OD of your cable, which I think bends a little -- I can't tell how much -- back and forth as it goes over the clapboard.
I wish I could say I'd tested the silicon tape outdoors. I've used it outdoors, on my phone line that a neighbor's half-baked contractors cut, but I buried that and haven't see it for 10 years. Phone and DSL work fine, however.
When I still had dial-up, one day my computer went out. I go downtairs and ttwo guys are poking at the ground with a metal rod. I'm in a townhouse and they're rebuilding a little fence around the front "patio" and instead they cut one of my phone lines. They want to repair it with wire nuts!!, but I soldered it and used this silicon tape. When I called Verizon a couple days later, the woman on the end said they woudl just use the jelly-filled crimp connectors and it sounded like I did a better job than they woudl do. Not sure if she's right or not, but voice and computer worked fine and still does.
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wrote:

When the electric company wanted to add a pole on the street in front of my house, they called DigSafe and had it marked. Yep, they drilled with a big auger and took out half my sewer line. I sent them the $3200 repair bill. Plus, they had two trucks and crew out here during the digging to support the new pole.
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I should have said they were working for the guy next door. I

Maybe they thought DigSafe had marked where they should dig. The odds are 50/50.
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wrote:

where it is supposed to be are a lot poorer than 50-50.
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wrote:

That is not a huge hazard because the internal conductors have all the insulation they need and you get quite a bit of physical protection from the grounded conductor that wraps around the ungrounded conductors but you should do something to further protect this. Before I saw the pictures I was thinking of the old asphalt and fiber jacket, hence the paint idea. Now, after seeing the PVC jacket, I think I would go with that split conduit system or some weather/sunlight resistant tape. Regular old electrical tape will not hold up long.
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Okay, thanks. Good thoughts and feedback. I'll write more later.
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In

Thanks again.
The split conduit system looks interesting and may be an option.
For a quick temporary fix, maybe grey 100% silicone caulk would help. I also have something called Permatex Ultra Grey RTV Silicone Gasket Maker that I have used in auto work and which may work well as a temporary patch for the damaged areas.
Based on what others here wrote, I did a search for "silicone tape" and it does look like there may be some types of silicone tape out there that would possibly work. Some of it says that it comes in a 2-inch wide silicone tape so "maybe" something like that could be run vertically along the SEU cable and wrapped around it and sealed in the back just as an additional protection to avoid more deterioration of the existing PVC jacket.
This is for someone who just bought the property, and it may become a rental home. So, he may want to wait until any initial town inspections are done and see if anyone mentions that cable as an issue (not likely in my opinion). Then, after that process is done, do some type of repair or preventive work on the cable to avoid future deterioration. Doing something now before any inspection may just draw unnecessary attention to the cable.
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*The SE cable needs to be replaced. That type of cable was not UV resistant and the outer jacket became brittle as a result. What usually happens is water gets inside and drips down the cable sometimes going all the way through to the electrical panel.
Is there any evidence of water inside of the electrical panel? How about the meter socket?
John Grabowski http://www.MrElectrician.TV
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In typed:

Thanks John.
I think that type of SEU cable is supposed to be UV resistant, and it looks like the same type of SEU cable that was used in all of the new electric services that I have had installed by licensed electricians in recent years -- a total of 5.
This link indicates that the SEU cable that they sell is supposed to be "sunlight" resistant, which I guess means UV resistant: http://www.nassauelectrical.com/wire-and-cable-resources/ser-seu-cable
I can see that the cable photos that I posted do indicate that the outer cover is deteriorating and cracking. So, yes, one option would be to replace the whole cable with a new one. However, I can't help but think that there may be some type of new protective wrap that could be used since that is all that is really needed in my opinion. In my dreams, I imagine someone selling a new flexible PVC or silicone protective wrap that could just be run vertically along the from of the cable, then wrapped around the back, and maybe sealed with silicone adhesive caulk.
So far, I haven't found anything that I would consider to be a home run for that idea. I am still checking out various "silicone tape" possibilities as well as the idea of a new click-together conduit as someone described in another post. Of course, at some point in terms of cost and labor involved, in may be almost just as easy to have the cable replaced with a new one.
About the water issue -- no water in the main panel, and I was not able to look into the meter box so I don't know if any water is getting in there. I did once have a problem with water in a main service panel as you described. In that case, the water was coming from inside the meter box, down inside the cable from the meter box to the main panel, and then dripped into the main panel. I posted about that before and the final answer in that case was that the meter box itself had to be sealed to water from getting in, and the source of the water in the meter box was not coming from inside the cable above the meter box.
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Hi Tom,

Just looking at those two photos, it looks like the outer insulation has deteriorated due to sun exposure. There's no way to tell if the interior cables have deteriorated also.
In any case, what you have now seems dangerous. You have no physical protection from weed whackers, mowers, or a stray kid whacking at the house with something sharp. That exposed cable should really be run inside a rigid conduit, such as grey PVC.
No matter what tape or other patch you apply to the cable, it's still vulnerable to physical damage.
The best, and safest, option is to install rigid conduit and replace that damaged cable.
Do it once. Do it right. :)
Anthony Watson www.watsondiy.com www.mountainsoftware.com
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In typed:

Thanks for your thoughts on this.
Other than the possibility of water entering the cable and getting down to the meter box or main panel, I don't see anything dangerous about the wear in the outer cover as shown in the photos. The cable is high above the ground level and nowhere near any possible weed whacker action. This type of cable is used everywhere in my area with no rigid conduit. That is the norm here and is in compliance with all codes. If the SE cable was going through a roof and eave, then I'm sure a rigid conduit would be used for that and it is probably what the code would require. But, other than that, no rigid conduit is required or used in this area.
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Tom,

If the inner cable insulators are still in good shape, you're probably OK for the occasional contact with the cable. Still, I would be worried about someone leaning a metal ladder against the cable, or accidentally cutting the wire when scraping the walls for repainting. Sounds dumb, I know, but people do all kinds of odd things and accidents happen.

Codes are generally the bare "minimum" required for safety. That doesn't always mean it is the best way to handle it. Even though it may meet code and be common in your area, the fact your cable has deteriorated like that is a huge warning flag to me, code or not.

All things considered, conduit is cheap. I don't see any reason NOT to use it in an exposed location like that, and plenty of reasons why you should. But, enough preaching, I know it wouldn't be a simple or inexpensive task at this point to update everything.
Quick fix, remove as much of the cracking insulation as you can (to avoid puncturing any new repairs), then wrap it well with electrical tape. I know they make heat shrinkable tape, but I have no idea who carries it these days. You would also need a heat gun for that.
If I were going the quick fix route, I would pick up some conduit and cut it in half lengthwise. Then I would install it as a protective cover over your existing cable. It would provide additional physical protection, and block sunlight from further deteriorating the cable. It would block rain to some degree too, but would allow drainage at the bottom if needed.
Good luck with your project!
Anthony Watson www.mountainsoftware.com www.watsondiy.com
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