Go Back   DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum > Home Improvement > Electrical

CLICK HERE AND JOIN OUR COMMUNITY TODAY...IT'S FREE!

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 03-03-2011, 02:53 PM   #1
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Alden, NY
Posts: 49
Rewards Points: 35
Question

Do I need a new service line?


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.
Attached Thumbnails
Do I need a new service line?-1.jpg   Do I need a new service line?-2.jpg   Do I need a new service line?-3.jpg   Do I need a new service line?-4.jpg   Do I need a new service line?-5.jpg  


BataviaJim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-03-2011, 03:31 PM   #2
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Nashua, NH, USA
Posts: 6,968
Rewards Points: 2,032
Default

Do I need a new service line?


I don't know how much it should cost but all the connections including the screws holding the wires on the breakers, the set screws holding the neutral and ground wires on the terminal strips (busses) in the panel should be tightened if needed. Also flip each breaker off, unsnap it from the panel, ans snap it back in. This cleans the contact underneath and, if the breaker appears loose, check for a deformed or burned contact underneath and change to a different slot if so.

A professional will be needed to retighten the big lugs where the service wires from the meter and roof entrance head enter the panel.

The service entrance as you have shown it looks okay to me. The cracked insulation on the wires up on the roof does not need attention.

Check for voltage drop at the service wires (measure between hot and ground) just before they enter the big lugs in the panel. This will narrow down whether the 5 volt drop is happening in the service wires or further upstream towards the pole transformer versus in the branch circuit or further downstream towards the appliance.

The connections, generally bars screwed or riveted togehter, at and under the main breaker also need to be checked for looseness, heat damage, and/or oxidation. This is also best left to a professional.

__________________
Forget super sized fries. The Washington Redskins could promote healthy eating with First Lady Obama by choosing a (red skinned) turnip for a mascot.

Last edited by AllanJ; 03-03-2011 at 03:36 PM.
AllanJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-03-2011, 04:09 PM   #3
Licensed Electrical Cont.
 
Speedy Petey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: NY State
Posts: 6,876
Rewards Points: 2,106
Default

Do I need a new service line?


Based on those pictures, and the age of the equipment, IMO I would say a service upgrade IS in your best interest. If not now then sometime soon.

From those pics it is impossible to say if there is still a neutral problem.

Depending on where in NY you are $2k is reasonable.
Speedy Petey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-03-2011, 05:02 PM   #4
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Alden, NY
Posts: 49
Rewards Points: 35
Default

Do I need a new service line?


Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
I don't know how much it should cost but all the connections including the screws holding the wires on the breakers, the set screws holding the neutral and ground wires on the terminal strips (busses) in the panel should be tightened if needed. Also flip each breaker off, unsnap it from the panel, ans snap it back in. This cleans the contact underneath and, if the breaker appears loose, check for a deformed or burned contact underneath and change to a different slot if so.
Thanks.
I should have mentioned that the panel box was replaced 3 years ago (all new breakers and new cable to the ground) so it's in good shape. Everything else electrical is original. The electrician said he did check all panel connections while troubleshooting the neutral problem, and they were good.

...

Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
Check for voltage drop at the service wires (measure between hot and ground) just before they enter the big lugs in the panel. This will narrow down whether the 5 volt drop is happening in the service wires or further upstream towards the pole transformer versus in the branch circuit or further downstream towards the appliance.
The electrician checked there and above, and he said that the 5v drop is at the top. I'm not sure how to confirm that myself -- I'm reluctant to touch my $30 multimeter to the service wires. Is that safe? (I have a vision of me in flames shooting off the roof. )

Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
Based on those pictures, and the age of the equipment, IMO I would say a service upgrade IS in your best interest. If not now then sometime soon.

From those pics it is impossible to say if there is still a neutral problem.

Depending on where in NY you are $2k is reasonable.
Thanks. I'm just outside Buffalo, NY, far from NYC. When the guy was writing the estimate (he used a job-rate book) my wife and I speculated that it would be on the high side of $500. We wouldn't have been surprised at $1,000, but over $2k was a stunner.
BataviaJim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-03-2011, 05:20 PM   #5
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Alden, NY
Posts: 49
Rewards Points: 35
Default

Do I need a new service line?


In case it matters, the service wire goes into the garage wall. See photos.

Apparently the current code doesn't allow that. A new service would have to go outside the wall. I think enclosed in pipe all the way but not sure.
Attached Thumbnails
Do I need a new service line?-6.jpg   Do I need a new service line?-7.jpg  
BataviaJim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-03-2011, 05:48 PM   #6
Scared Electrician
 
Saturday Cowboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Colorado
Posts: 715
Rewards Points: 500
Default

Do I need a new service line?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
Based on those pictures, and the age of the equipment, IMO I would say a service upgrade IS in your best interest. If not now then sometime soon.

From those pics it is impossible to say if there is still a neutral problem.

Depending on where in NY you are $2k is reasonable.


agreed replace
__________________
Ragged Trousered Philanthropist


Please follow the code - its there for your safety no matter how inconvenient.
Saturday Cowboy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-03-2011, 07:06 PM   #7
Licensed Electrical Cont.
 
Speedy Petey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: NY State
Posts: 6,876
Rewards Points: 2,106
Default

Do I need a new service line?


Quote:
Originally Posted by BataviaJim View Post
Thanks.
I should have mentioned that the panel box was replaced 3 years ago (all new breakers and new cable to the ground) so it's in good shape. Everything else electrical is original. The electrician said he did check all panel connections while troubleshooting the neutral problem, and they were good.
That makes a BIG difference.




Quote:
Originally Posted by BataviaJim View Post
Thanks. I'm just outside Buffalo, NY, far from NYC. When the guy was writing the estimate (he used a job-rate book) my wife and I speculated that it would be on the high side of $500. We wouldn't have been surprised at $1,000, but over $2k was a stunner.
He used a job rate book to price a residential service change??? That tells me he uses flat-rate pricing. Those guys are almost always way high.
Considering this is only 100A, and is a mast service and the panel does not need to be replaced, I'd say $800-$1k is about right.
Speedy Petey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-04-2011, 02:34 PM   #8
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Alden, NY
Posts: 49
Rewards Points: 35
Default

Do I need a new service line?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
He used a job rate book to price a residential service change??? That tells me he uses flat-rate pricing. Those guys are almost always way high.
Considering this is only 100A, and is a mast service and the panel does not need to be replaced, I'd say $800-$1k is about right.
Yes, his company uses flat-rate for everything. They pitch it as a positive -- known cost up front.

Your estimate is more in line with what I expected, though at this point anything under $1500 would seem like a bargain.
BataviaJim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-04-2011, 03:10 PM   #9
Licensed Electrical Cont.
 
Speedy Petey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: NY State
Posts: 6,876
Rewards Points: 2,106
Default

Do I need a new service line?


Quote:
Originally Posted by BataviaJim View Post
They pitch it as a positive -- known cost up front.
That is the ONLY positive, for you at least.

Speedy Petey is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Lennox service valve questions leeh1212 HVAC 12 07-26-2013 09:59 AM
Help planning service upgrade FremontJoe Electrical 2 12-07-2010 04:02 PM
Wiring Size Calculations for New Service CorinthWest Electrical 7 12-07-2010 12:36 PM
electrical service line bmancanfly Electrical 4 07-21-2009 08:07 PM
2x100a sub on service main jambud Electrical 17 03-12-2008 10:31 AM




Top of Page | View New Posts

Copyright © 2003-2014 Escalate Media. All Rights Reserved.