How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

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 links with answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about ELECTRICAL SERVICE:

What is the minimum overhead electric service drop height/clearance to a house?

 Why is a leaning electrical service mast dangerous? 

• What is the fireman’s switch emergency disconnect requirement for residential electrical service?

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

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

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

What is three phase electric service?

What is a reliable way to tell if the electrical service is 3 phase or single phase? 

What does it mean when I find buried yellow "CAUTION" tape when digging a hole in the yard?

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

What is the difference between the electric service to a mobile home and a site built home? 

What are the clearance requirements for an overhead electric service drop that is directly over or near a swimming pool?  

• What is the minimum size electric service to a mobile/manufactured home?

• Can anything else be attached to a service mast for overhead electric service besides the service cables? 

• What is the electrical "service point" of a house? 

Why is there a 3-phase breaker in a single phase panel with only two bus bars?

What is a service conductor?

• What is the difference between single-phase and three-phase electric service? 

• What is the minimum clearance under an electrical service drip loop of a house? 

     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. 

Thanks to Craig Eaton for help with this article.

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