Why is a leaning electrical service mast dangerous?

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

When the structural integrity of a service mast begins to fail and it leans further and further over—pulled by the weight of the service cables, with the mast as a lever—it can eventually rip the meter lugs from the insulator mounts and leave them dangling. An electrical short will often follow and, unfortuanately, there is no overcurrent protection at most electric utility meters. They are designed to withstand a large current surge, but not to stop one. The main breaker for the home is downstream and will not be triggered, so an electrical fire comes next.

    Here’s an example above of an electrical fire at a meter, one that was caught in time. It had a different configuration (underground service) and different cause (cable short between meter and service panel), but is an example of what can happen quickly with a short at a meter that does not have overcurrent protection.

    There’s also a secondary problem caused by the openings of the leaning service mast at connections that let rainwater run down into the meter box, corrode the interior, and damage the meter equipment.

    So the moral of this tale is: don’t wait too long to fix a leaning overhead service drop. Also, here’s a few of our other articles about electrical service drops: What is the minimum overhead electric service drop height/clearance to a house? and Can anything else be attached to a service mast for overhead electric service besides the service cables? and What is the electrical "service point" of a house? 

Thanks to Craig Eaton for help with this article.

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And even more links to a collection of some our other blog posts about ELECTRICAL WIRING:

Which house appliances need a dedicated electrical circuit?

Can a short circuit cause a high electric bill?

What is the maximum spacing requirement for securing NM-cable (nonmetallic-sheathed cable)?

Is it alright to just put wire nuts on the end of unused or abandoned NM-cable or wiring?

What causes copper wires to turn green or black in an electric panel?  

What are typical aluminum service entrance wire/cable sizes for the electrical service to a house?

Why is it unsafe to bond neutral and ground wiring at subpanels?

Should I get a lightning rod system to protect my house?

Why is a strain relief clamp necessary for the cord connection to some electric appliances?  

Does a wire nut connection need to be wrapped with electrical tape?

What is the minimum clearance of overhead electric service drop wires above a house roof?

What are the requirements for NM-cables entering an electric panel box? 

What is the color code for NM cable (Romex®) sheathing?

Why are old electrical components not always "grandfathered" as acceptable by home inspectors?

How can I find out the size of the electric service to a house?

Can old electrical wiring go bad inside a wall? 

What is a ground wire? 

I heard that aluminum wiring is bad. How do you check for aluminum wiring?  

What is "knob and tube" wiring?  

What is the code requirement for receptacle outlets in a closet?

   Visit our ELECTRICAL page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 

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