Wire meets garden sheers

aniceoneDecember 30, 2011

This might be the stupidest question ever asked here. I lived in apartments my entire life until a couple of months ago when I got a 50s ranch house in So California. So, today I decided to cut down some sort of climbing plant that was growing up around the fireplace/chimney and up to the roof . I could see it really gripping and splitting the bricks and did not want it to rip up the shingles. I was cutting up pieces of it - well, there were a couple of wires going around the chimney, which were originally white, but painted brown in places. I did not cut it all the way through, but I clearly notched the coating. No idea what these wires are - a couple of them go around the edge of the roof. Electrical and Internet work fine (at least for now, it is dry and sunny), so I kind of hope this is cable or Dish TV wires, which are not in use. I am not sure who to call or even how to explain what the problem is, so I will probably get quoted 5 or 10 K to rewire the entire house. I would put some electrical tape on it, but that would require climbing higher than I feel safe doing. Any suggestions??

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Oops, I meant shears...

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 2:45AM
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You'd hardly be the first person who has done this. From your general description, I'd say the wire is likely some kind of television or telephone. Can you see any markings on the wire?

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 7:27AM
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Posting a picture of the wire would likely result in better advice.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 7:29AM
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Ron Natalie

OH, for a second there I thought you were talking about the curtains.

If they're running up towards the roof I suspect they may have been for an external TV antenna (you know the kind of thing people had before cable TV or satellite dishes). Often, these antennas were strapped to the chimney for support. It might be a run to the satellite dish.

It could be some hack cable TV or phone wiring install (I've seen real goofy things done by these installers). It's very unlikely they are anything to do with the power.

There's almost certainly "nobody" to call on a single family house. The wiring is past the point where it's your responsibility. If nothing you care about has ceased to function, I wouldn't worry about. If you decide to get satellite or cable in the future, the installer will have to figure it out. More often than not they'll ignore ancient wiring of unknown state and install new anyhow.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 7:31AM
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Whatever the wire is, it's low voltage or a ground wire for something. It wouldn't be power for anything like lights or outlets around the house.

As stated, it's most likely for an old antenna or something now obsolete. Since everything is still working fine, I wouldn't worry about fixing it.

With that said, I would at least wrap it good w/ some electrical tape to ensure it's protected from the environment. It might be old, but if it's still attached to something, then error on the side of caution for only a few pennies.

For the extremely concerned, wrap it in rubber tape first, followed by electrical tape. This ensures a waterproof fix.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 9:50AM
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Thank you so much for all the suggestions! Saltcedar, I did take pictures right away, but have to get the camera connector from my work desc (my phone camera is not very good).

Bsspewer, I want to do the tape, but that would require me going to the top step of the ladder which I am not entire sure is a good idea; me falling on a concrete patio migh cost a bit more than pennies :(. And actually I am not sure my ladder is long enough to reach the wire with my hands; the lopers I was using to make this mess have really long handles! However, I feel really stupid calling a handyman with this. And of course now it looks like it is going to rain.

I have traced where the wires go and I am 99.9% sure it is a Dish TV cable - the thing is still on the roof, but not in use. Since I do not have the service, the cable is not connected to anything in the house; it is just sitting there. Is it worth it tryign to pursue the fix, or is it safe to let it go?

Again, thank you all so much!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 2:13PM
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I'd just cut it.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 2:30PM
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Electricalkid - why would you cut it?

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 2:58PM
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Ron Natalie

Electricalkid - why would you cut it?
That way if it was something important you'd find out about it right away. I like the idea of just taping it up and letting it go.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 3:48PM
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That way if it was something important you'd find out about it right away.

Yeah, that's what I thought :).
Is there any coating that can be sprayed or painted, since I can't quite reach it to tape it?

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 3:57PM
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agreed w/ Electricalkid..cut it.

If you're not willing to tape it up and protect it from the environment, then cut the thing so any future endeavors to use the dish and it's existing wiring won't lead to headaches. With a cut wire, they'll know right away what the problem is.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 4:26PM
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Plus if it's cut It's easier to remove, :P

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 4:55PM
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Assuming it is old antenna cable (round, not flat). If you cut through the outer insulation, water will get in. Eventually the cable will go bad.

If you're not using it, then just leave it alone. If you ever wish to activate the Dish, or go DirecTV, have the cable replaced by the installer.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 5:22PM
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It is most definitely round. Given that I made quite a mess with my handywork so far, I really would rather not touch anything else unless I have to! :)I might make another attempt with the tape, but leaving it alone/having professionals do it later seems like a good idea!

Looks like my parents (both extremely handy) were right, my hands do grow out of my ... wrong place.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 6:15PM
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I'm sorry, but there is just some bad advice going on here.

No, if you don't know what a cable is, you just don't "cut it" based on assumptions. And even if unused, why would you want the other end of a cable just flapping in the wind outside of the house?

Just leave it - it was only a cut on the outer insulation.

If it is unused, and needs to be used again, it can be replaced or simply terminated with two new fittings and a barrel connector.

BTW - Outdoor antennas are not a thing of the past and OTA (over the air) broadcasts produce the the most pristine HDTV broadcasts available.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 11:34PM
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Thank you yosemitebill, your input is appreciated!

Happy New Year all!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2011 at 2:14PM
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