An electrician wants to charge $2000 for work that I'm not sure is needed so I'm looking for advice.
Recently I had a neutral problem at my panel. Under heavy load (1500w) all the circuits on that side of the main would lose voltage – about 10v drop. All the circuits on the other side would gain voltage, about the same amount. Lights on the loaded side would dim, on the other brighten.
I had a similar problem before so I figured what it was, but I'm not one to fool with the main panel so I called an electrician. The guy I had before is retired so I checked the phone book and picked a company that was licensed, insured, BBB, etc. They got a tech out the same day, he measured the voltage changes and agreed it was a neutral problem. He checked all the individual panel connections, which were good, went on the roof and checked the PoCo feed, also good. He pulled the meter and found a slightly loose connection from the panel to the ground. Tightening it solved the problem, or at least the immediate symptoms. He charged $290 which seemed high for a little over an hour's work, but I was happy to get it fixed right away.
Next he took more measurements unloaded and loaded. He came in and said that there was still a 5v drop on my service line at the pole, and my feed from the PoCo lines to the meter was deteriorated. He said everything from the PoCo feed to the meter should be replaced – new pole riser, insulator, service cable, meter base, and wire from meter to panel. He would also check the inside ground connections and bring them up to code. Total cost: $2027.
I'm not convinced this is necessary. His rationale was the age and appearance of the service line, and the claimed 5v drop there under load. My house is 50 years old and that's the original service, so it does have some age. Photos are attached. You can see cracks in the wire.
Here's what I have now inside the house under load:
- No dimming or brightening lights anywhere
- The single loaded circuit shows a 5v drop - 119.5 to 114.5, with a 1500W appliance on. (My panel is on the other side of the garage so the line is 80ft long)
- Other circuits on the same main don't show a drop
- Other circuits on the other main don't show a surge
I'll get another estimate before proceeding, but I'd like to get an opinion from this group first.
1. Does it seem like I have any remaining neutral problem? From some Internet research I get the impression that a 5v drop on a loaded circuit is not excessive, especially one that length. But I'm not sure.
2. If there is a 5v drop under load at the service line, does that justify the job?
3. Based on age and appearance, does it seem appropriate to put in a new service line?
4. If so, is the cost reasonable?
Thanks very much for any advice.