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What happens if you have a serious electrical problem and can't pay? Not 'my outlet doesn't work'; more along the lines of sparks shooting out of the wall or something else catastrophic.

I'm thinking of a situation where the house is still energized (it's not the POCOs problem or the POCO comes out and tells you it's your problem). Can the POCO make you turn your power off (or shut you down) till you fix it? Can the POCO fix it and charge you?

Lots of places have 'funds' for people who can't pay their heating bills. Are their funds for people who have to fix this sort of stuff?

Also, what if you are part of an unit of housing (townhouse, condo, apartment, etc) can you be forced to fix something?

Thoughts from my peeps?
 

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The first thing most people do when sparks are shooting out is call the fire department.
Once they kill the power, it then takes a permit and inspection to restore power.
That's how it works in my area.
I have never heard of a fund to help people for repairs.
Most of the time, it could be a church or other organization to help with the bills.
 

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Depending on the circumstances, I suppose I would do the job and work out a payment plan, if you are truly needy. If I show up and you are driving a Bentley and live in a 10,000 square foot mansion, well, then I want my money! But I have taken a check and held it until the customer said they had the funds available.

I know how it is to be in a bind with money, and I'd hate to think that someone would have a major electrical issue and not be able to get it repaired.
 

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Yes, they can shut the power off
POCO fixes what is there problem, not usually inside the house
It's up to the HO to get the problem fixed & pay for it
Townhouse, Condo, Apt etc if it's a danger to other units they could make repairs & put a lien against the property I guess
And if the bylaws state keeping the unit in good repair etc they could also force repairs as it could effect other properties value

No law says you have to have electric power
Some people work off solar power, wind etc
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Me, I haven't burned anything down yet. And, with the exception of service entrance (ohh, scary!) I'm my own electrician. My contractor chuckles every time he walks by the sign that says - 'no touching breakers unless you talk to Leah first'.

I'm just interested in what happens if...
 

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Homeowners insurance wouldn't cover that?

In a freak October snow storm in '97, a branch fell on the power line leading to our house from the road. It pulled the pipe (mast?) attached to the house that goes into the meter. It was hanging there on about a 45* angle. Two days later the power company came out and shut our power off. The insurance company paid to have it fixed and for the new meter.
 

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One house water was coming in thru the feed wire
Water was dripping out of the main panel
Several breakers were rusted & would not trip
Insurance paid for everything

I guess it depends upon what causes the problem
If you have old K&T and that causes the problem insurance may not cover it
I know some insurance companies will not insure houses w/K&T
 

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What happens if you have a serious electrical problem and can't pay? Not 'my outlet doesn't work'; more along the lines of sparks shooting out of the wall or something else catastrophic.

I'm thinking of a situation where the house is still energized (it's not the POCOs problem or the POCO comes out and tells you it's your problem). Can the POCO make you turn your power off (or shut you down) till you fix it? Can the POCO fix it and charge you?

Lots of places have 'funds' for people who can't pay their heating bills. Are their funds for people who have to fix this sort of stuff?

Also, what if you are part of an unit of housing (townhouse, condo, apartment, etc) can you be forced to fix something?

Thoughts from my peeps?
Here in Louisville, anyway, if you called the FD about sparks flying, etc. they would probably throw the main breaker, call LG&E (the local poco) and Matro building permit/inspections. When the utility company got there they would cut the power until inspections cleared it for a reconnect.

You'd be sitting around in the dark until you fixed it. If there is some sort of hardship/relief fund for emergency repairs, I've never heard of it.
 

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Homeowners insurance wouldn't cover that?

In a freak October snow storm in '97, a branch fell on the power line leading to our house from the road. It pulled the pipe (mast?) attached to the house that goes into the meter. It was hanging there on about a 45* angle. Two days later the power company came out and shut our power off. The insurance company paid to have it fixed and for the new meter.
Only if it was caused by something that was covered. If a falling branch ripped off your outside breaker panel/meter, the would cover it. If you sawed through your wall and ripped through your main electrical wire probably not. Or if a rodent chewed through your electrical wires, probably not.

It's hard to imagine how something like that could happen without someone or something having taken action. Electrical wire doesn't just disintigrate or disconnect themselves from outlets or termination points, unless the work wasn't done correctly in the first place. I suppose if a breaker goes bad or corrodes you could get sparks out of it, but if you can't afford a $10 replacement breaker and an an hour bill from an electrician to replace it then what are you doing owning a home?

And if it's an issue of work not done correctly in the first place, then you need to find and sue whoever did the work, built the house, inspected your house and didn't find it, or the last person that owned the house.
 

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Only if it was caused by something that was covered. If a falling branch ripped off your outside breaker panel/meter, the would cover it. If you sawed through your wall and ripped through your main electrical wire probably not. Or if a rodent chewed through your electrical wires, probably not.

It's hard to imagine how something like that could happen without someone or something having taken action. Electrical wire doesn't just disintigrate or disconnect themselves from outlets or termination points, unless the work wasn't done correctly in the first place. I suppose if a breaker goes bad or corrodes you could get sparks out of it, but if you can't afford a $10 replacement breaker and an an hour bill from an electrician to replace it then what are you doing owning a home?

And if it's an issue of work not done correctly in the first place, then you need to find and sue whoever did the work, built the house, inspected your house and didn't find it, or the last person that owned the house.
I dont know many electricians that will come to your house, during an emergency, and only charge you for an hours worth of work. The electricians I know will charge a minimum amount, even if it takes them 10 minutes. This was a hypothetical question regarding extreme cases, maybe a elderly person on a fixed income that cant afford a $5,000 bill from an electrician.
 

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I dont know many electricians that will come to your house, during an emergency, and only charge you for an hours worth of work. The electricians I know will charge a minimum amount, even if it takes them 10 minutes. This was a hypothetical question regarding extreme cases, maybe a elderly person on a fixed income that cant afford a $5,000 bill from an electrician.
I guess.. I just can't imagine too many cases that would require an emergency response from an electrician. If your breaker suddenly on its own starts throwing sparks in the middle of the night you shut off the power at the main breaker and call an electrician the next morning. If it's the main breaker throwing sparks you call the electric company and they cut your power until an electrician can get to it.

But I suppose if you really really needed it fixed right then, like you had $10,000 in kobe beef in your basement freezer then yeah you might want to do the midnight call to an electrician to get it fixed. And in that case, yes it would be extremely expensive. But if you had $10k in kobe beef in your freezer and you can't afford to pay the poor guy maybe you can pay him in beef instead?

The going rate for any work around here comes with a minimum 1 hour fee, plus materials, and sometimes a truck fee or transport/fuel fee.

And like I said, how do you get a $5000 bill from an electrician, barring a severe rodent infestation that happened to chrew through every electrical wire in your house, that would not be covered by home owners insurance or not leave you a path to sue someone else for improper work. A bill that large for an existing structure is either going to be natural disaster caused, your own stupidity caused, or someone elses stupidity caused.
 

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If the situation is hazardous, the POCO will disconnect. If it is their wiring, they will repair it at no charge.

If it's your issue and you can't afford to fix it, life sux sometimes.
 

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Reflections on social help

This thread has more in common with Social and legal applications rather than technical. In general terms. A utility will shut the power to a house or building if in their opinion there exists an immediate hazardous condition. No. They don't repair internal wiring. Additionally. In large cities, the Utility (power supplier) can't be called upon (just like that) when the customer THINKS they have a problem! They always recommend that a LICENSED Electrician be called first. And if that professional determines that the problem originates in their lines, then, after being provided with the License # of the person who takes responsibility for the diagnosis, they will come out and restore power. However, if the determination was incorrect, The Licensee will be held liable for @ least $500.00. The amount the Utility claims cost them to send a crew!
In Condos, if the problem is in a "Common Area", all the residents are (theoretically) liable and will be charged, either directly or through a special fund!
 
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