Water inside breaker box?

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Eddie_T

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I think there's some illegal activity going on. I would contact the NJ Board of Public Utilities for clarification on billing practices.
 

Sparky617

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Smart meters can work a number of different way, and telephone lines isn't one of them. They have ones that work over the cellular network and ones that actually send the data over the power lines. Or they can send a vehicle around their service area to collect the data as they drive by. Clearly it is much faster to have a car drive around my neighborhood than to have a meter reader walk all 260 homes in my subdivision. The cell collection system has challenges because of dead spots in cell coverage. If you're making a call and you don't get a signal you can move out of the shadow of a building, but if your meter is in a dead spot, it can't exactly move to a better location.

Our electric service has at least two components, same with gas service. The first is a set charge for providing the service, the second is usage based. The set charge covers the transmission lines, and other sunk costs to provide the service. Usage covers the cost of producing the electricity.

We've had smart meters for years now. The only dumb meter I have now is my gas meter. I can log on to a website and see my water usage on a near real time basis. Our water meters use a radio collection system the town utility department installed at many points around town. They installed a new meter with a radio antenna to support the system.
 

ekrig

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Everything that has been said in this thread is reasonable but I've found that unfortunately many things in NJ defy logic and reasonableness. It is a beautiful state but, generally speaking, the administrative ineptitude/incompetency/corruption is mind boggling. Rant over!

I'm with @Eddie_T that you should contest that bill because that is tantamount to robbery in my book. They don't get to make the rules as they go.

Coming back to the original topic: Since it seems that they don't let you address the issue, does this issue put your house/property at risk of damage because of the water or increased hazard of fire (water+electricity is risky...)? If so, I'd document the issue and report it to the electric company, your insurance company and town. Since they don't let you fix, I would think that either they need to fix or are liable for damages if they happen. I'd contact a lawyer to double check that too.
 

Sparky617

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Everything that has been said in this thread is reasonable but I've found that unfortunately many things in NJ defy logic and reasonableness. It is a beautiful state but, generally speaking, the administrative ineptitude/incompetency/corruption is mind boggling. Rant over!

I'm with @Eddie_T that you should contest that bill because that is tantamount to robbery in my book. They don't get to make the rules as they go.

Coming back to the original topic: Since it seems that they don't let you address the issue, does this issue put your house/property at risk of damage because of the water or increased hazard of fire (water+electricity is risky...)? If so, I'd document the issue and report it to the electric company, your insurance company and town. Since they don't let you fix, I would think that either they need to fix or are liable for damages if they happen. I'd contact a lawyer to double check that too.
It isn't that it can't be fixed, permitting may *REQUIRE* the work be done by a licensed electrician. There may be steps he can take short of replacing the service entrance but without pictures we can only guess.
 

bud16415

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It sounds to me that I agree with @ekrig. There is ether more to the story than the OP is relating or the electric company is being a PITA.



Find a lawyer and have him write a certified letter putting the utility on notice of the assumed risk put on the homeowner by their negligence in preventing them from fixing the problem and their inability to help the homeowner in fixing the problem. The utility has placed the homeowner in a catch 22 situation that may lead to fire, electrocution and or death. The letter is to be kept as a record when the eventual happens blame will be placed where it belongs.



It is totally ridicules that outside water is flowing thru the meter and following the entrance cable into the house and causing damage to the main panel. Water and electricity do not mix well and always ends in problems.



This is not rocket science and you are being pushed around by the low level folks at the utility company and a letter documenting what you have done needs to be seen at a higher level in the company. You pay your bills and you deserve better service.

Don’t dick around with these guys you need to go over their rank.
 

Eddie_T

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This sounds goofy but I would make a small drip hole in the cable sheath at its lowest point in the basement.
 

bud16415

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This sounds goofy but I would make a small drip hole in the cable sheath at its lowest point in the basement.
I actually thought about that also. The water is not going to have much affect on the coated conductors. I think he also has a ground in there by the looks of it that it might not be good for. But then who wants a bucket sitting under your main panel. It is something that shouldn't be that big of a deal. Where I live the first guy that came out would have sealed it up.
 

Eddie_T

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@bud16415 The PoCo workers in my area are nice to work with as well. They were troubleshooting my underground feed (approx 1000 ft) with a "thumper". I had a generator running in my drive back feeding a 240v receptacle just inside my garage door. I asked them if I should turn it off so they could hear better, they said they were good. They never once questioned how I was connected. I am sure they wore gloves and checked transformer for voltage before disconnecting primary leads and attaching the thumper.

I confess that I resent (and resist) authority as so many that have some authority tend both to flaunt and overreach it. It caused me minor grief in the army but I was smarter than the career boys and most often outfoxed them.
 
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Eddie_T

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It's not only the PoCo, the electricians in NJ sound a bit high and mighty too. In the south where they are not unionized I can find a good old boy that would do it for a couple of hundred (or less) if I furnish the parts. I hired an electrician to replace my panel since I needed it done in one day. The cost parts and labor was $600 and he wired it hot so I didn't chance a reinspection.
 

bud16415

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It's not only the PoCo, the electricians in NJ sound a bit high and mighty too. In the south where they are not unionized I can find a good old boy that would do it for a couple of hundred (or less) if I furnish the parts. I hired an electrician to replace my panel since I needed it done in one day. The cost parts and labor was $600 and he wired it hot so I didn't chance a reinspection.
I have done some work hot myself in my younger days, but I would never advise anyone on here to do such. On giving forum advice it is seldom the poster gives us enough clues to even advise working behind the panel.



You are correct in some places the power company guys will tell you go ahead and pull the meter and get going with what you need to do and that they will stop buy later and check things out and tag it. Other areas doing that will end you up in court. NJ seems to be one of those places.



I had a neighbor one day I drove past his place and I see auto jumper cables connected to wires on top of his mast. I pulled in and said Rick what the heck are you doing? He said oh my power got shut off and they (power company) told me to do this to get going. I said no way would they tell you that I didn’t just fall off a turnip truck. I told him do what you think you have to but you will get caught. Couple days later I see the cops loading him in the car in cuffs. He believed I turned him in. Maybe I should have but I didn’t. Ended up costing him big time.

I really feel the OP has reached his DIY limit and needs to play hardball to get someone’s attention.
 

louder

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As far as the power company goes, I've never gotten past talking to whom ever answered the phone, or the guy who comes out to replace the meter tag.
They are adamant that home owners may not touch any part of the service before the main breaker or beyond the meter. Any disconnect, meter removal or reconnect must be done only after inspector approval, any change to the main breaker panel requires an inspector's certification tag.
The one on the current panel is dated 1977. Not much in the house has been touched since then.

The meter box is the type that isolates the neutral from the box, so any water that may get into the upper cable up top, will follow the casing down through the box into the lower cable. The meter is 4ft below the roof line on an end wall, the service cable enters the top of the meter box, the cable from the meter leaves the bottom of the box and goes down about 3ft and into thebasement through the wall directly to the breaker panel straight below the meter. I think the majority of the water is from what gets in around the round meter glass itself.

The law says a homeowner has the right to repair their own home, when it comes to electric, it says the homeowner is responsible for everything up to the wires leading to the pole, if there's a pole on the property, the owner is responsible for the wires to the last pole on their land. The catch is that only the power company can made connections and install the meter, and they will only do so after it has passed inspection by the local electrical inspector. The problem is getting the inspector there when needed and getting the company out to reconnect in a timely manner. I was told 14-28 days for a disconnect, and the same for an inspection. The cost of a reconnect is $360, and the cost of each inspection is $87.50.
At this point I don't need a new service or a disconnect, I just need to stop the water from geting into the meter box or getting down the bottom cable. I'm sure a simple gasket around the meter would do the trick, but they wont allow it. My guess is that somewhere along the line the meters got smaller, and that created the problem. It obviously hasn't been leaking water for 43 years, so it has to be something that changed recently.
 

bud16415

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Again and my last comment.



Break it down it is like a dog chasing his tail.



You have a problem and they are telling you that you own the problem and then telling you that you cannot fix the problem and your attempts at doing that or suggesting what to do have met with being told you can’t.



You are locked in a cycle and you and your family are the ones taking the risk. I would make it perfectly clear to not the lineman or the person answering calls but to the power companies lawyers that they are being put on notice of their responsibility if something happens. Not because of what they do, but because they are preventing you from making your home safe. Trust me they don’t want a 25 million dollar law suit when you get electrocuted because they prevented you from stopping water coming into your home alongside their power.

This business that you can’t have a roof over your meter is totally absurd.
 

Eddie_T

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I can be an obstinate cuss when riled. I would add a shade sail to that end of my house. A sail that touched none of the electrical but shaded my lawn or deck chairs and accidentally diverted rain away from the meter. If they wanted it down take me to court my property. And maybe get a TV reporter on my side if they did

 
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tmiskimen

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There should be a weep hole in the bottom of the meter socket to drain away any water that may get into the socket to prevent exactly the problem you are having. Is it per chance plugged with dirt or the like? Speaking from 35 years of IOU meter experience.
 

Eddie_T

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My meter box has no drain per se but could drain around the ground wire which exits the bottom.
 

Sparky617

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One cool thing with the Smart meters I can call the electric company and have them kill the power to my house remotely, do the work, and then have them restore the power remotely. No need to pull the meter or dispatch a tech. When I added my new sub panel circuit and EV circuit I put the breakers in place before I pulled the wires into the panel so the bus bars were all concealed. Newer panels would have a main shut off to kill the power to the bus bars. Not required when my house was built in 1999. Pretty common here to have a main panel as part of the meter panel, and then a sub panel in the garage with most of the circuits. The main has my AC units' breakers, my garage sub, my range breaker (currently unused) and now my basement sub and EV circuit.
 

louder

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They acknowledge the problem, tell me its my responsibility to pay a "Licensed Professional" to fix it, (apparently one of their own), or, do it myself and submit to multiple inspections, a mandatory upgrade to current code throughout the house, and deal with possibly days or weeks without power.
All the prices I got were more than it would cost me to install a new service in a new home.
None of the 'Professionals' seemed interested in actually doing the job, at least not anytime in the near future, (likely so long as they have new work to do).
I was told by two 'Professionals' that if I replace the meter 'pan', and cable to the breaker box, it constitutes a 'new service' thus would need to be brought up to modern day code standards. That includes the installation of a new breaker panel, new service cable, new meter pan, and all new breakers, with would include two ground fault breakers, and 11 arc fault breakers, at roughly $88 each.
Since the house still has some two wire runs to lamp outlets in the bedrooms and living room, that wiring would also have to be replaced as well as any wiring with braided outer insulation.
The basement lighting has a thick, silver woven wrapped type of wire running to the overhead light fixtures, which are only still there as a back up. The individual wire is 12/2 vinyl insulated with a bare 14ga ground wire. Its not a problem, its not a fire hazard, its just older style wire. Its been here for 42 years and powers only four LED light bulbs in an unfinished basement. The wires leading to the stove outlet in the kitchen, 9ft above the breaker panel are made from the same stuff, but in 8/3 with a ground. Not hard to replace, but I'm not replacing something that's not a problem.
The bathroom has no outlets, just a single LED fixture over the sink. According to two 'professionals' bringing everything up to 'code' would mean adding ground fault outlets, all new wiring and a fan to the bathroom. This all came from two separate 'pros' who gave me estimates to replace the meter pan. None would just replace the meter pan, or the service cable since I figured if its disconnected on both ends and only 10ft long, why not put new stuff back up.
All quoted prices well beyond double the retail cost of any of it locally, not to mention I can buy wholesale from where I used to work.

I'm more than capable of replacing just about anything myself, but the prospect of being without power for a long period of time when its starting to get cold out is my big concern, especially when something as simple as an 18" strip of foam weather stripping would likely fix the problem inside the meter box.

There is drain holes in the bottom, there are four holes in a 3" square pattern around the center of the bottom panel, plus the lower edge is just flat, no wrap around, but the inside of the box is folded upward there about 1/2" or so, but the ends of that fold are not sealed tight, nor are the corners of the box.
The issue is likely the path water takes as it runs off the meter down behind the panel. Its likely dripping directly onto the open end of the cable.

The bottom line is the water needs to be either diverted away from the end of the lower SE cable, or prevented from getting into the box in the first place. At the very least, the end of the cable should be 'sealed' with something that keeps water out. I'm sure a big handful of sealing putty would do the trick, or even simply pouring some sealer over the open end of the cable.

The sail panel idea won't work here, we get too much wind ripping through here, I'd have to pour footings and support poles to keep it from taking off. (The neighbors 3x6 glass topped patio table got picked up and thrown across the street the other day, and all we had was a few 'windy' days. I've replaced the rear storm windows on my house now 10 or more times after they got broken by either wind pressure or flying debris from the field behind the house.
 

louder

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My meter box has no drain per se but could drain around the ground wire which exits the bottom.
This box doesn't have a ground wire, so no intentional holes other than the four screw holes fr a conduit plate on the bottom that aren't used since its got regular SE cable and a clamp.
Not even the neutral is connected to the meter box, the only neutral connection inside is wire to wire via two ring clamps with bolts. The meter lugs sit ontop of an X shaped plastic insulator secured by four screws countersunk in the plastic. No connection in the box is grounded in anyway.
The meter box is small, maybe 8x10" or so.
Its also buried into the siding, so only the face of the box is flush with the siding, the cable on top is also cut into the siding a bit.
I had a house in PA about 20 years ago and the SE cable was enclosed in square plastic rain gutter, it kept the sun off the cable and looked a lot better than a huge chunk of cable just hanging hap-hazard like on the outside of the house. I started to do that here, but they told me I cannot cover the cable, unless I replace it and use conduit, but they said conduit isn't an option because my installation would require a lateral run along the rising roof line. So no conduit, no vinyl trim around the wire.
 

bud16415

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One cool thing with the Smart meters I can call the electric company and have them kill the power to my house remotely, do the work, and then have them restore the power remotely. No need to pull the meter or dispatch a tech. When I added my new sub panel circuit and EV circuit I put the breakers in place before I pulled the wires into the panel so the bus bars were all concealed. Newer panels would have a main shut off to kill the power to the bus bars. Not required when my house was built in 1999. Pretty common here to have a main panel as part of the meter panel, and then a sub panel in the garage with most of the circuits. The main has my AC units' breakers, my garage sub, my range breaker (currently unused) and now my basement sub and EV circuit.
I don’t think I like the lack of LOTO protection with someone across the state having the ability to fire the power back on while I’m working on it at my end. Something comforting knowing the meter is pulled to me.
 

louder

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When I lived in PA years ago, one house I had had a switch on the meter box, there was a big handle on the right side of the meter box, with a lock ring top and bottom so if you turned it on, or off, you could padlock the handle in place. It kept it from either being turned on when you wanted it off, and prevented kids from just flipping it off as a joke.
The other place had switch boxes on the pole out front, the boxes were at eye level, the meter was on the house. The switch box was an emergency cut off in case of flood or fire, that house was on a lake, and all the houses in the area were set up that way. To kill your power, you simply walked out to the pole and threw the switch, and moved the double key tumbler padlock to the bottom position to keep it off.
The meter was then dead, as was the wires from the pole to the house. They considered anything past the pole 'customer owned', but more than once replaced those wires due to system upgrades over the years with no charge to me. The meter there was a small rectangular box with both analog and digital readout. It sat in a stand alone cast aluminum box that was connected to the main panel inside via heavy aluminum conduit. The customer had no access into the meter assembly, but did have access to the point where it connected to the main service from overhead, and to the lug secured wires at the access plate where the conduit entered the building. That house used to be an office before I bought it, so that set up may have been from those days, the electric bill there was cheap so I never bothered to change anything.
I don't think my summer electric bill there ever exceeded $60.
 

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