Friday, November 30, 2007

Electrifying Heights, New Haven, CT

The wire that brings electricity into a home is referred to as the service drop conductor (blue arrow). This is connected to the service entry conductor (red arrow). The point at which they are connected (yellow arrow) is most often the demarcation between the homeowners' responsibility and the utility companies' responsibility. The minimum safe height from the ground of these components is 10 feet for the service entry conductor (yellow) and 12 feet for the service drop conductor (blue).

This particular service drop and entry was suspect on initial inspection. The lowest point of the service conductor, the drip loop, is less than 9 feet from grade. This can be determined by counting the bricks. The width of each brick is 2 ¼ inches adding a mortar joint brings it to about 3 inches. This method is better than using a metal tape measure to check the height and a lot safer! There are 33 rows from grade to the bottom of the drip loop. 33 x 3 = 99 ÷ 12 = 8.25.

This would then mean the service drop is also too low. The margin of his rough estimate (over one foot) is certainly wide enough to warrant further evaluation by an electrician. The service entry conductors' height will likely need to be extended to fall within the safety parameters previously discussed.

Taking risks with electricity is never advisable. Minimum safety requirements are in place to protect people from serious injury or death. A knowledgeable home inspector can heighten your awareness of potential problems and spare you shocking surprises after your purchase.

James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC