Half-dead service

pharkusMarch 31, 2010

What's everyone's first thought when I state that one hot conductor of an underground service (to a mobile home) has simply ceased to conduct electricity?

What's the permanent fix? This individual is not interested in buying all new wire to go from the pole to his house. And by "is not interested", I mean, it simply won't happen. There's no way I can scare him into it. Is there some approved method for splicing the wire back together once we find the break?

There is most definitely 240 at the load terminals of the outside disconnect - and one of the hots is most definitely dead on the panel end inside.

As a temporary fix (overnight only, and because all of his lights except one are on the 'dead' side), I have disconnected and isolated the broken wire on both ends (unhooked, wrapped in tape, folded back, and taped again) and installed a 30A DP breaker with its load terminals connected together to feed the dead side from the live side. Of course he has no hot water...

Going back tomorrow - plan is to kill the power at the outside disconnect and dig up the cable, wherever it might go, hoping to find the break. I don't have any of those fancy non-contact wire-following break-finding gizmos, but I do have a shovel and it's only about 10 feet...

Any input? advice? I'm most concerned about what to do as a long-term fix. I'm quite capable of running a whole new cable but I doubt I can convince him to buy it.

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spencer_electrician

10 feet of cable will be a lot cheaper than a proper direct burial splice kit and time to splice a section of wire between the breaks. If it is really 10 feet and you have to dig to find the break, the cable would be under $50.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 11:32PM
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tim45z10

This happens all the time to aluminum wire.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 12:54AM
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wayne440

If the wire is direct burial AL, your customer (interested or not) will eventually replace the wire. It can be now, or later after 4 or 5 splices/repairs, but the "long term fix" IS replacement.

Don't worry about convincing him to replace it, simply state that if YOU make the repair, that the wire will be replaced. If he still "is not interested", take your 30A breaker and leave.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 6:53AM
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bus_driver

Dig it, man.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 8:43AM
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jemdandy

If he's unwilling to buy 10 ft of service entrance cable, pack you gear and go away, and let someone else deal with him. By the time you locate the break and splice, your labor will be more than 10 ft of cable.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 5:02AM
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hendricus

but I do have a shovel and it's only about 10 feet...

Plus 5'going down and 5' going up and enough in the box to make connections. All of a sudden it's 25' of cable.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 7:33AM
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pharkus

As hendricus indicates, the length of the cable is longer than the distance between the pole and the building.

In any case, as you might be able to tell from the fact that I posted pictures of the break... we found it.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 3:34PM
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hendricus

Ummm... where would we find the pictures?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 7:59PM
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pharkus

Right here - or you could click the thumbnail five posts before this, with the caption "Well THERE'S yer problem!"

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 11:41AM
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