My electric meter box is pulling away from the house. ground has sunk. How expensive will this be??

Discussion in 'The Bench' started by jay3000, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. jay3000

    jay3000 Well-Known Member

    So, this has been happening slowly for many years, but isn't getting any better. The underground cable has sunk over time (20 years) and is pulling downward on the box. The top of the box has has broken the screws and is leaning out about 3 inches from the house. The bottom of the box is still attached.

    The power company will take no responsibility, and claims that it is entirely my problem. Funny thing is that they claim I own the box, but their lock/seal is on it. Well, if it's my box......

    Anyone have any idea what would be involved to fix this, and a wild idea of what it will cost to fix????

    Thanks again to the smartest people on the internet.

  2. 72STAGE1

    72STAGE1 Runnin' with the Devil

    Open it and remove the screws and then re-attach it at the height that the cable will allow, being careful to not touch the lugs, just use some heavy gloves if your clumsy, just be slow and its simple really, you are doing nothing wrong, they will put a new tamper lock on it when ever they come back around, there's no penalty.
  3. faster

    faster Well-Known Member

    Electrical contractor time. Unless you are very familiar with code and 220 single phase. $300-$500 should cover it.

    If you attempt it yourself the power company will pull the fuses on the pole so you can work safely and then come out when your done to power it back up.

  4. DeeVeeEight

    DeeVeeEight Well-Known Member

    Reply number one, not so good.
    Reply number two, very good.
    hwprouty likes this.
  5. steve covington

    steve covington Well-Known Member

    If you are a customer from DUKE Energy Progress, they will cut off your power at the nearest pole/ transformer, and the work can be done by a QUALIFIED electrician. I hope that your box and service is up to current electrical code... If not up to code, expect a bill of around $1,200. Yep, New box, new feeder line, new ground lines, etc. Happened to me October 2015. And it was actually a good thing. The power line from the main line where it attached to the house down to the meter itself was so degraded (Hey, it was only at least sixty years old), that I'm surprised that it had not shorted out and burned the house down.
  6. 64 skylark mike

    64 skylark mike Well-Known Member

    Reply #1 probably won't work if your breaker box is on the opposite side of the wall. There will be wires going from the meter base through to the breaker box. If you try to move the meter base down, those wires will be too short to move, plus they should be in a conduit nipple that ties the two boxes together. That pipe nipple might be what's keeping the meter base from turning loose already.

    You might get lucky and be able to dig next to the house big enough to raise the service wire and conduit riser back up to the right height. Unless you are very familiar with electrical and codes etc. as mentioned above, probably should get an electrical contractor. Some electric providers require this type of work to have a permit and electrical contractor involved. And won't turn your power back on until the inspection is done. Check your area requirements.

    Definitely needs repaired before it stresses the wires enough to short stuff out.
  7. 72STAGE1

    72STAGE1 Runnin' with the Devil

    I never saw a nipple on a house install, but true there may be not enough slack in the feeder, but I was thinking only 6-10 inches was needed then I would certainly remove and re-attach and save hundreds of dollars, its really not dangerous with appropriate common sense. But guys today aren't like I was raised, put boots on and do things like men, most are too scared and have lots of money, I on the other hand can't stand to pay anybody to do anything outside of a each his own.

    And BTW for $1200 I'll come to your house and do it!!!!!!!
  8. 64 skylark mike

    64 skylark mike Well-Known Member

    All of the ones I have been around have a nipple or at least a bushing connecting the meter base and breaker box when they are back to back. But I haven't seen them all lol!
    I helped our electrician repair a similar situation just a few months ago. It was quite a project, but we did it in one day. And yeah, it can be done safely, but I wouldn't recommend somebody that's not pretty familiar with service panels taking on a project like this.
    I try to do as much of my own stuff as I can too, and some things are better left to the pros. I applaud you 72 Stage 1 for being comfortable jumping in with both feet! But sometimes it's not just a matter of being scared, but also knowing our limits.
    These comments aren't made to cause a ruckus, hopefully nobody is offended.
    72STAGE1 likes this.
  9. John Codman

    John Codman Platinum Level Contributor

    X2! You might be able to do it, but if there's a problem down the road you may be holding a very large bag of nasty stuff even if the problem isn't directly related to your work.
  10. yachtsmanbill

    yachtsmanbill Well-Known Member

    Generally (ahem) theres a mechanical joint through the penetration, i.e. from the meter fixture to the panel inside. Usually code requires this stuff all be in a dedicated feed conduit. Here. the pole line drops to the peckerhead, down to the meter, through the wall with 1-1/2"(?) conduit into the back of the service panel inside. Ours is 200A 220 single phase supply.
  11. jay3000

    jay3000 Well-Known Member

    The problem is the the box feeds into the house through the back, and needs to stay at the same height/location that it is. The line feeding it from the bottom with grey PVC has sunk. Not sure how an electrician will make up the extra inch or two needed to get the box where it belongs.

    Not sure how deep, but maybe the best solution is to dig until the buried line can be pulled upward slightly???
    72STAGE1 likes this.
  12. 64 skylark mike

    64 skylark mike Well-Known Member

    This is what I was talking about earlier, in post #6, when I suggested digging up next to the house and try to raise the service wire and conduit riser. With enough clearance dug around the service wire, should be able to raise it all back up where it belongs. Might have to dig along the wire, (or conduit if it is fully encased in conduit) several feet to get it to move.
  13. yachtsmanbill

    yachtsmanbill Well-Known Member

    Theres a few questions that are now gonna enter into the picture; Whats the soil material? Is there concrete over it? Was the box lightly fastened into the external sheeting or anchored with some big honkers into the studs or sill plate? I am guessing its all underground service to the street?

    No utility is going to want to make a 3" splice at the inlet. They will want to run a new service line to the end user (your meter). Beside being on the hot side, theres load loss/heat to deal with a splice. They are going to want to work with an installer to replace the line, make the service taps at the street and on and on.

    That's the ugly end.

    Is there enough wire in THE SERVICE PANEL to pull some out to make it up? If the issue hasn't worsened in a few years, I'm guessing the line and meter has stabilized. You may get away with remounting the meter box (if mounting substrate is poor, consider a treated lumber mounting plate), and moving the service panel over to meet the incoming feed. Is everything in rigid conduit or armored flexible cable? Up here Romex is the rule and makes things muchhhh easier!

    Just a few points to ponder. It never cast in stone unless the code cops get wind of it. I replaced a screw in fuse panel in my last house with a 16 breaker box myself (didn't pull a permit!) but passed inspection when selling the house. It aint rocket science, just switches in the launch center.... ws




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  14. JZRIV

    JZRIV S.W. PA - Farm Country

    Without seeing a picture of the meter box with meter removed its not possible to access exactly what needs done but nothing can compare to an onsite inspection. There are three main areas of concern. The conduit itself, permanent damage to meter socket, and if there was any allowance for looped/extra wire inside meter base that would prevent strain on the lugs as the conduit and wire pulled away. This would be the primary concern because stress on the wires/lugs will cause a sudden major failure and you don't want to be in a rush finding someone to fix it when/if that happens so preventive action is needed.

    They make expansion boxes that can be installed between meter base and ground. Nothing more than a junction box with an expansion fitting to allow further movement without pulling on wire or meter base. Box is installed, new longer wires are spliced onto original feeders from junction box to meter with plenty of excess. This practice is generally acceptable though codes can be different depending on locality so you have to check.

    Call a competent contractor to come out asses and quote. It won't cost you anything. At least you'll have professional evaluation from someone who was on site even if you choose not to hire them. Ask if there is any possibility for a short term temporary fix that will avoid a catastrophic failure if you don't have money to fix it permanently right now. Only after a full inspection can options be determined.

    In most cases, your power company will require an inspection to code be done after any work is completed that requires them to disconnect and reconnect power. they will not reconnect until inspection is complete so that must be coordinated in a timely manner after work is done but if a contractor is doing work they will handle that.

    When I installed my underground service I left as much extra wire looped in meter base as possible and did not cement the 3" PVC conduit fitting coming into base of meter thus allowing it to settle slightly without straining the meter base.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
  15. yachtsmanbill

    yachtsmanbill Well-Known Member

    X2 Jason... after re-reading the OP, it seems as though the feed conduit has pulled out of the bottom of the meter case. An expansion terminal box would make absolute sense here, but as its on the utilities' side, that would be a job for a contractor. I don't mind doing my own stuff as long as I can verify Ive shut off supply up to to and including pulling the meter off the stabs. This job is on the hot side from the utility and would really need them to open the taps at the transformer ... JMHO... ws
  16. TWO72"s

    TWO72"s Silver Level contributor

    If you have extra wire in the meter socket you might be able to add some pvc or nipple to the pipe coming up from the ground. That would be a good spot for an expansion fitting and may cure your problem. Another option would be to measure the height of the meter box , then go to the supply house or home depot etc. You can look for a different brand meter socket that is longer than yours and replace it. I also would recommend having an electrician do the work for you.
  17. jay3000

    jay3000 Well-Known Member

    It appears that the PVC pipe is in some way connected to the box itself. Not sure, but it has not pulled out of the bottom at all. The box was connected to the sheathing with 4 screws. The PVC goes straight down into the clay, and is probably buried to a depth of about 3 feet or so. I guess I will get someone to come and take a look. It's not going to fix itself..

    Running a whole new wire would be a HUGE problem
  18. white72gs455

    white72gs455 Going Fast With Class!!!

    Those wires are not fused and WILL KILL YOU if you make the wrong move. When I do these under ground installations on new homes, I mount the meter socket and all the piping except the one that the utility installs their wire in. I do have to leave the pipe for them. It most likely is a straight piece of conduit with a loop of wire below. Shouldn't cost more than 2 or 3 hundred for a couple hours work max.

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