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Old 06-03-2012, 10:04 PM   #1
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Neutral wire size?

Hi guys, I am having voltage difference in my house. The power company guy told me it is your neutral wire from breaker circuit to the meter. And I am responsible for the replacement of the wire or should I say wires. What I want to know is if I have to change all three wires or can I just change the neutral wire(its better to change all three but I am short on money). Secondly which size of neutral wire should I install (for my knowledge so I can check the prices of cable) since I can't read the print on the existing cable. I have a 1800 s/f 2 story house.


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Old 06-03-2012, 10:27 PM   #2
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IF the wires are separate conductors installed in a conduit, then you may replace one of them without changing the others.

Highly unlikely that such a wire would go bad, however.

If the conductor itself is bad, it's usually a concentric bare conductor consisting of several strands wrapped around the other wires as part of a cable assembly. Type SE cable. If this is the case, you have no choice but to replace the whole thing.

Some questions that come to mind are (in no particular order):

1) What size is your service equipment (200 Amp?)?
2) Type and size of entrance cable (type SE, or ?)?
3) Length of cable from meter box to service panel?
4) Copper or aluminum?
5) Did POCO confirm the neutral is good at the meter box?
6) This job is usually NOT a D-I-Y project, as you are going to have to tie it into an existing meter box, and it may be live and dangerous to deal with.



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Old 06-04-2012, 07:55 AM   #3
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Most likely the problem is at one (or both) ends of the cable. A loose connection there can quickly lead to burning away of the cable end and/or the clamp or lug to which it is attached. Do you actually see significant voltage differences, hot to neutral, as you measure at the big lugs in the panel where the neutral you are questioning comes in?

However cables that run underground can suffer metal damage from corrosion in the middle if for some reason, perhaps due to burrowing animals, the insulation gets damaged.
The good conscientious technician or serviceperson will carry extra oils and lubricants in case the new pump did not come with oil or the oil was accidentally spilled, so the service call can be completed without an extra visit.
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Old 06-04-2012, 10:37 AM   #4
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I pull meters all the time to replace wires like this. But this is not really a DIY project. Even with the meter pulled there are are live unfused parts inside the meter socket. And old meter sockets can have old brttle parts that break easy. You need to decide whether it can take you losening and tightening the lugs again.
With Electricity there is the right way to do it and the dead way. Just because it works does not make it safe.
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:01 AM   #5
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A DIY will not have the proper training or protective equipment to pull a meter.
Answers based on the National Electrical Code. Local amendments may apply. Check with your local building officials.
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Old 06-04-2012, 03:32 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
A DIY will not have the proper training or protective equipment to pull a meter.
My thoughts exactly. Hire a pro.


All responses based on the 2011 NEC.
If you live in New Jersey click here. All other states click here.
Please check with local, county and state officials as laws may vary.
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