Re: Elec. Service Cable Insulation
I installed the Elec. Service system on my little brick
bungalow 20 years ago. Works OK, but ...
The outside wires are above-ground. The elec. utility's
wires connect to my pigtails which connect to a big
aluminum cable that runs down the wall to the elec.
meter. Problem is, the outer insulation on the big
cable is disintegrating. The insulation on the hot wires
inside the cable is intact, but is exposed to the sun
and will probably deteriorate much faster.
Is there some kind of all-weather tape that I could
maybe wrap around the big cable? I checked a few stores
and didn't see anything. What would you do in this
situation to avoid ripping everything out and replacing
the big cable (a lotta, lotta trouble!)?
Apologies if this sounds trivial, but it's bothered me
for over a year. Load off my mind if I can figger how
to fix it.
I don't know where you're located, but in most places all of the wiring from
the utility to the meter is the utility's responsibility. I'm not real clear
on why they would terminate their line at your "pigtails" instead of at the
meter... this would be highly irregular in my neck of the woods.
Don't mess with deteriorated live feeds from the power company... let them
figure it out.
In my neck of the woods, I had to supple the cable to the top of the
mast and make the original connection. They then came out, inspected
everything and removed my connectors (they were the $30.00 worth some years
ago and the ones they specified) and put their own on. Even with that, they
own and maintain everything up to and including the meter. Anything new is
Obviously something that can change from supplier to supplier,
and even from muni to muni. Last time I had occasion to check
into it, it was very similar to yours. Rain head with 3 * 3'
pigtails was my responsibility (and all below, including the
meter base). They did the attachment to the house, strain
relief, and the bugs to attach my wires to theirs. Inspect
and then pop in the meter.
TP / Network Man __________________________________
If u want the races for free,
You have a good reason to be concerned over this situation. If any moisture
gets inside of the conductors it will lead to rapid degradation of the
aluminum conductors and possibly heat generation between them.
I don't know of any type of repair covering for this and if I did I don't
think I would recommend it. The conductors may be brittle from their
exposure to the sun and weather. Any disturbance would cause the insulation
to crack and possibly break off. You don't want this to happen while they
The only solution that I know of is replacement of the service entrance
cable. For better protection and longevity, you may want to consider
installing conduit such as rigid metal, intermediate metal, or rigid PVC
Strange if you use the correct cable Type SE or type USE, there
shouldn't be a problem. Both types have the same outer jacket and are
supposed to be sunlite resistent.
One of the responses said you should replace it and I agree. water
entering the jacket can work it's way into the meter and cause corrosion
and it can also follow the wires back to the panel and cause corrosion
Seeing that you did the original install you shouldn't have any
problems replacing it.
Sorry to say that replacement is you best and safest option.
BTW when you have everything apart check for corrosion. Replace any
Maybe you could just take the cable clamps off and gingerly move the cable
away from the house and begin taping with some friction tape from the bottom
up to the top. You can get friction tape about 1" or 2" wide. Taping from
the bottom up will give the proper overlap so that water running down it
will go over the edges and not settle and enter the taping. At the top, you
can use a ty-wrap or some kind of waxed string to secure the last wrap to
Another method would be to take a piece of PVC conduit and slice it in half,
the length from the top of the meter box to as high as you can get it, and
then fasten it over the riser cable to protect it from the elements. At the
top you could then seal it so that water and snow will not run down inside.
I don't think either of these jury-rigged solutions are particularly wise (let
alone code). The electrical tape will probably accelerate deterioration,
and the split pipe will potentially cause serious trouble with the insides
of the meter base or even the main panel (condensation etc).
It strikes me that it'd be best getting an electrician to come, and simply
rework the existing riser into a proper conduit installation - mast head,
drip loop etc. Material-wise, this is fairly cheap. Shouldn't take more
than an hour of labour. Get quotes.
If you know how to install the conduit properly, the only reason you'd need
an electrician is to deal with disconnecting/reconnecting the live service.
Your electrical company might do that part for free.
You may or may not be able to save the existing wire. If you can't reuse
it, install a new mast/conductor set in parallel, and just get the electrical
company to come over and switch the feed over (on both ends of the riser).
Ask your local permit office how to proceed.
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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