The last thing I want to do after a long day has to climb up on my roof and replace the electric wire from pole to house. But it has been nearly 6 months since the last time, so I’m sure it’s time for me to get back up there.
The worst part?
Having to figure out how to get that heavy cable across my rooftop!
The average person spends most of their day indoors, but they may not realize that the electricity comes from a power plant and is sent through an electric wire to your house.
The cable carries electricity to your appliances, TVs, computers, and more. In the event of a storm or other disaster where you lose power for some time, there are precautions one can take to reduce any potential harm done by this temporary lack of electricity.
This blog post will explore what precautions need to be taken when dealing with a power outage situation with regards to food storage and refrigeration among other things! It’s all about being prepared!
Basics of Residential Electric Service Drops
If you’re like me, then your knowledge of electricity and how it works maybe a bit hazy. That’s why I thought it would be helpful to briefly go over some basics regarding the delivery of electricity from the power plant to your house! The electric wire that delivers this power is called a “drop” because it’s hanging down from a metal pole.
From there, the electric line is connected to the house through an entry box and an “add-on” service package, which may or may not be included in your initial agreement with your power supplier. Your meter should also be near this entry box somewhere on the exterior of your property wall. The meter monitors the amount of power you use and sends this information back to your supplier where it’s recorded.
Back to that electric wire, There should be a rubber sheath around the cable to protect it, and most drops have insulation on them as well. However, if exposed, water can get inside causing corrosion or even complete failure of the power line.
There are two wires inside the cable that can be dangerous, so it’s important to never touch them as well as any metal part of the connection point to your house.
Service Drops Provide All Power to Your Home
This is an important distinction between service drops and overhead power lines. A service drop can be either 120 or 240 volts depending on a variety of factors, but it’s always “split-phase”, meaning that two wires carry the electricity to your home instead of one like you have in a standard 110-volt outlet. The voltage (120 or 240) and the number of wires (one or two) depend on whether you have a detached home or an apartment building.
Service Drops vs. Buried Power Lines
Buried power lines are those that are hidden underground after leaving the pole, but they can still be accessed (for repairs) from a manhole cover on your street, which has an access point to get inside. The cables themselves may or may not have a rubber sheath and/or plastic insulation coating depending on their age and condition. However, since they’re underground, they do not need this extra protection!
These power lines run directly to your home, but you still have the same two wires inside that can be deadly if touched. So just like with a service drop, it’s important to never go near any of the metal poles or other access points along the way (manhole covers, etc.) unless there is an emergency.
What about Service Drops?
Since it provides all of your household’s power needs, you don’t want to be without it. If the line is hanging in a position that allows water and leaves to fall directly on it, then the sheath will eventually wear away until the bare wires are exposed. At that point, trees, branches, or even the wind could whip it around, causing a short circuit and knocking out all your power!
The best way to prevent this is by trimming trees or branches that are near your service drop. At the very least, make sure they’re not touching the wire.
The Service Head and Service Point
The service head is the connection point from your drop to your house and should be kept clean of any dirt or debris that could cause a short circuit. The service point is located where this wire connects inside your entry box, which can also get dirty so it’s important to periodically check that as well. A long-handled screwdriver will do the trick!
The Drip Loop: Your Drop’s Best Friend
The drip loop is a U-shaped bend in the wire just above ground level, and this one simple design element does more to protect power lines than anything else. It keeps any water falling from rain, leaves, or snow from reaching the electric line itself (which carries enough electricity to kill you) by allowing it to fall to the ground around it.
Another great feature of a drip loop is that it slows down the water, which creates enough resistance in the wire for the circuit breaker in your entry box to detect a problem and shut off your power before any damage can occur! So make sure you have one on your service drop.
Service Drop Height Requirements
This can vary depending on where you live, but two things are typically true. First, the line itself needs to be at least 10 feet above ground level, and 10 feet from any structure below it like a porch or deck. The National Electrical Code (NEC) is designed to ensure public safety and includes these height requirements for service drops. Service drops that are mounted on a mast or bracket above your roof peak can be as low as three feet above the roof, but anything lower than 10 feet needs to have a drip loop added.
Service Drop Safety Tips
Again, service drops provide all of the power for your home and need to be treated like any utility line! You should never climb under, around, or on anything that supports it. In addition, you should never attempt to raise the height of a service drop (by attaching additional wires), but if you need to make any repairs then be sure to call an electrician for help.
Service Drop Repairs
If you notice that your service drop has any bare spots or tears, then you need to have it repaired immediately. This is also true if there’s any loose wiring. You could be without power for days if the weather causes a short circuit and your line gets damaged!
Now that you’re an expert on service drops, the exterior electrical wires in your home, and how they all work together, feel free to share this page with your family and friends. They’ll probably find it interesting too!