Unlocking electric meter box -- water problem

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RBM wrote:

I guess I'll have to do that unless I can somehow figure out how the utility company opens that type of locking mechanism.

I think that may be what is going on in my case. I don't know what an "SE" type entrance cable is, but it looks like there is a fitting at the top of the meter box where the cable goes in, and there is a nut that appears to tighten a rubber grommet (sp?) that the cable goes through. Just for kicks, I globbed a bunch of Ductseal on top of the whole setup at the top of the meter box (during a rain storm) just in case that would help. The rain stopped not too long after that, so I don't know if what I did helped in any way.

Since I did try making a hole in the bottom, I ended up figuring out that didn't work or solve the problem.

I'll definitely do that along with any other sealing that I can think of around the lid of the box etc.

I'll look again, but so far, from ground level, I don't see anything wrong higher up.
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You found a way to stop the rain!

Attach a mirror, pointing down, to a helium balloon. Then you can see the top from above. Let me know if this works.
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This won't answer your question about getting into the box, but I'll tell you how I dealt with water that was getting my service cable and then into my panel.
I found the lowest spot on my service cable after the meter. It was nothing more than a small dip in the cable. I took a utility knife and cut a tiny slit in the outside jacket at the bottom of the dip. Water dripped out slowly for a while then eventually stopped.
i have not had any water in my panel for years.
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

I definitely wanted to do that since the idea makes sense to me. Unfortunately, from the meter down into the service panel is all a downhill slope of the feed wire. The is no "low spot" or drip loop. If there was, I would have tried your trick to drain the water out of the line. Instead, the only "low spot" is inside the main panel where it is dripping out of the feed cable.
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If it's a downhill slope, an opening in the jacket might still let the water flow out.
Perhaps you could force a drip loop (it wouldn't need much) along the run to coax the water to flow to the slit.
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

I did think about that, and I guess it is still a possibility as I think more about it. I knew I couldn't/shouldn't do that on the outside of the house because that could give rain water a new way to get inside the feed wire. The only other place would be the two feet or so inside the house from where it enters the house to the top of the main service panel. It would have to be in a part of the run that is not above the main panel so it wouldn't drip onto the panel -- and that location is pretty hard to get to. I'm sure I'll want to try other options first, since keeping the water from getting inside the feed wire in the first place would be the best solution.
But, if I do end up trying this, maybe I could put a tiny slit along the bottom and put a small piece of cloth tape (or tie a small piece of cloth) there to cause the water to drip there and not run down the outside of the feed and into the main panel. Or, maybe do the slit idea and wrap a little Ductseal around the feed below that point to create a drip point.
I do know all of the above is a little hokey to do or try, and I think that finding the source of the problem would be better. But, while it was pouring rain outside and the problem was active and dangerous, and I couldn't get the utility company to come out there, doing one of the above tricks may have worked or helped -- at least temporarily.

I did look when the problem was happening, as well as afterward, and there just is zero slack or ability to create a drip loop in the line itself. I wish I could have done that, and if I could, that probably would have been one of the first things I did.
I appreciate the suggestions.
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TomR wrote:

Okay, I looked again today, and it turns out that there is about a 2-foot horizontal run of the service cable from where it comes into the house to the top of the main service panel. I tried pulling down on that run in the middle and I was able to get it to bow down just a little in the middle of that run. So, I did that, and I went a head and put a tiny slit in the insulation in the bottom of the bow. I did it as a "just-in-case-it-helps" maneuver thinking that maybe that will create a new drip point before the main service panel if I don't get the real cause of the problem solved.
Meanwhile, I caulked the heck out of the top and sides of the meter box and all of the entrance fittings on top etc. using clear 100% silicone caulk. The next time we have a heavy rain, I'll see if any of these ideas worked.
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try using a garden hose, beging down low to find out where the leak is
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common problem is seal between the top hub and the cable jacket. Easy to fix by tightening the hub nut and coating the joints with silicone or duct seal compound. An often overlooked problem is the splices and wiring being above the cable weatherhead. Water will wick right down the stranding. Fix is to lower the splices below the weatherhead and have all conductors rise to enter the weatherhead. Water will exit the wiring before entering the weatherhead. Some people seal the sides and bottom of the socket. A leak at the top will force water into the socket. If water entry is because of a missing hub-to-socket gasket, silicone will usually seal the screws and the hub body.
--
Mr.E

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One further note, see if the meter to socket door has a gasket or seal. This can allow a lot of water into the socket. Duct seal will seal this joint without hardening or gluing the door to the meter. Good vinyl tape can also be used to seal this joint carefully.
--
Mr.E

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On 6/10/2013 6:28 AM, Mr.E wrote:

Back in the 90's one of my customers who owned a beauty shop in a nice commercial building had the power knocked out in a storm. A tree landed on the drop between the pole and building. The drop came in at an angle and when the line was hit, the hub broke and the 2" conduit pivoted around the center pipe clamp and cut the wires off like scissors at the top of the meter box. Needless to say, a lot of fireworks ensued. I went back in with a 400 amp 3ø service that was a lot of work so I ran the shop on a rented 60kw diesel genset until the new service was ready for the power company. The new service came into a 4" rigid attached to the block wall with four sections of Unistrut reinforced on the inside of the CMU wall with 3/4" plywood and thick fender washers. The customer's husband insisted on a stronger service entrance and I accommodated him. I ran the service entrance through the wall with an LB into a wire trough with the service entrance cables running the length of the trough and capped off with heat-shrink caps. Connections were made with the equivalent of Buchanan B-TAP® Insulation Piercing Tap Connectors to tie in several breaker panels. It was a large beauty shop with a lot of hair dryers and a 10 ton rooftop AC unit. It had quite an electrical load so the 400 amp service was adequate. If my memory hasn't failed me, I think it had a newer 400 amp 3ø feed through meter instead of a CT meter. I sealed the weather head with duct seal along with the top and sides of the meter box. The LB through the wall was sealed with expanding foam like "Great Stuff". I never had any water get through the electrical service. I need to drive by there and see how it's held up after all these years. ^_^
http://www.idealindustries.com/products/wire_termination/lugs/lugs_tap_b-tap_connectors.jsp
http://tinyurl.com/ota6sq5
TDD
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This is a follow-up post to let everyone know how this all turned out.
Although my above post wasn't completely clear, what I had done at that point in time was use silicone caulk on the top, the entry points on the top, around the top "cover" of the meter box, and across the top and down along the sides everywhere that the meter box met the wall of the house.
After I did the above, and after the next rain, I still had water coming in. So, that didn't work.
I still wasn't able to arrange for the electric company to come out and meet me there so they could open the box and I could see what the problem may be. Instead, they just showed up unannounced one day when I wasn't there, looked at the box, didn't do anything, and told the people who live there that the caulking that I had done is all that they would have done and, supposedly said I did a good job.

and,

After reading what Mr. E wrote, and having given up on the electric company for any help in opening the meter box, I decided to do even more caulking of the meter box. I used more clear 100% silicone caulk and caulked all around the meter itself, and vertically down along the sides where the front cover of the meter box meets the box. I also decided to caulk all around the round mystery lock on the front that only the electric company can open. So, now the meter box is completed sealed shut with my 100% clear silicone caulk. I don't know if the electric company would think that was a good idea or a bad one, but that's what I did.
Fortunately, that worked!
We have had tons and tons of heavy rain for the past two weeks and no water is coming into the electric panel in the basement -- it is completely dry. That means that the water leak problem was coming from the meter box itself with water getting in there somewhere. The masthead (or whatever it is called) above apparently was not a source of the problem since caulking the meter box did the trick.
Here are two photos -- a before and after shot: http://tinypic.com/r/qxjqso/5
http://tinypic.com/r/30rm99i/5.
Unfortunately, the silicone caulk is clear, so it is hard to see, and I had to take the photos with my cell phone which doesn't take very good pictures. But, if you look at the second shot carefully, you may be able to see that I caulked everything -- the top, the sides, around the meter, around the round lock on the front, etc. And, that solved the problem.
Thanks everyone for your help.
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I get all teary eyed when I read a happy ending like that. Good on ya!
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Mine is a one piece breaker & meter box, meter above the breakers. Water came thru the meter and across the breakers & buss bars, corroding it all. The water was coming in around the glass meter because their rubber seal between the glass & metal case was gone. Power company replaced the seal and I replaced the main breakers. I see some crud/mold at the bottom of your meter and that could be your problem rather than a entrance cable water leak.
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Oren wrote:

Thanks. When I couldn't get the box open, I did try that and I was surprised to find that no water came out. I did just what you said -- opened the knockout just a little. After nothing came out, I pushed it back closed so the electric company wouldn't complain.
I also cut the little wire clip at the bottom and I could pry the door/cover open a little in one corner. I could see that there is no water in the bottom, and that the way the door/cover is mounted it looks like any water in the bottom would drip out anyway.
Of course, all of that left me a little confused about what's going on, but I still want to get the box open to find out.
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Oren wrote:

Thanks. No, mine does not go through the roof -- it's on the side of the house.
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*Try inserting an allen wrench inside of the small hole in the center of the barrel and turning it. That what they use when I need a lock removed. If it is too rusted, they cut it off with an angle grinder. Shoot some Liquid Wrench in there before trying to remove it. One thing though, removal of the lock could be construed as meter tampering.
You may not see much evidence of water in the meter. The water could be traveling down the service entrance cable from the top at the weatherhead and continue down into the basement. Older cloth type service entrance cable can absorb water and that will also drip down into the electric panel.
Some cures for this are to replace the service entrance cable and weatherhead, caulk the existing weatherhead, caulk the top of the meter socket where the cable enters the connector.
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John Grabowski wrote:

Just out of curiosity, I'll probably try that in the next day or two. I don't have small allen wrenches (I have them, but can't find them), but a friend has them and I'll borrow his and see what happens.
Before posting my original post, I did some searches online and found one YouTube video that looked like a possibility:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXz0H5D6jEc
.
That actually doesn't look like what I have, but it gave me the idea to try pushing something in to try to "spread the pin apart" (if there is one, which I doubt). That didn't work.

My service entrance cable is newer and is plastic, not cloth, and looks like it is in perfect condition. I'll look more up top (from the ground, since I am not going up there) to see if I see any possible problem areas up there.

I am going to do all of the "caulk the top of the meter socket where the cable enters the connector" stuff, and related caulking in and around the meter box, today. It would be great if that solves the problem, but I'll have to wait for more rain to know for sure.
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On 6/9/2013 10:49 AM, TomR wrote:

There are some cray-zee futher muckers out there making illegal power hookups for a price and getting themselves prison terms when they're caught. Guess where it happens a lot? ^_^

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-4cSLH1DEA

TDD
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On 6/9/2013 3:17 PM, The Daring Dufas wrote:

...and there are some homeowners that don't put up with it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWi54WtEwBU

It's the 2 legged dogs you have to worry about.
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