Strange Power Line Issue

Creeper

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Last Sunday and Monday we had a big rain storm on the East Coast, the same one that plagued the Dallas - Buffalo game. We had a lot of rain. Sometime around 6am Monday water alarms I installed in my basement went off. They detect water on the floor of the basement and sound an alarm on my phone so I can investigate and correct any problems before I incur significant damage, like a leaking water heater or broken sump pump. Anyway I jumped out of bed, ran down the basement and noticed water on the floor underneath the electric breaker box. I noticed the water was actually dripping out of the breaker box onto the floor. I looked above and around the box for a source of water. I found none, but clearly the water was coming out of the breaker box itself. I removed the cover from the box and noticed a pool of water on the bottom of the box. The weird thing is the water was leaking in from the main power cable itself. Somehow water had managed to infiltrate into the cable inside the sheathing and insulation. The cable was dry on the outside, but leaking water from inside which was dripping directly onto a couple of electrical connections to the circuit breakers. Of course it was the 50 amp breaker for the AC. The bottom of the breaker box, which is metal, is rusting considerable so this is something that has been going on for a long time, but not bad enough to be noticeable until this week. Obviously it only happens when it rains, and most rain is less severe than what we had last Sunday.

The utility company is going to send someone out today, but has anyone ever heard of or seen anything like this? I have had 3 houses in my life plus the houses I grew up in as a kid and I have never seen anything like this. I know water will find its way into a house if there is a way into the house, but this situations is the weirdest I have experienced. Water and electricity do not go well together so this is something that needs a remedy. I have a feeling this might be more than spraying some flex-seal on the cable outside, but who knows. Maybe that is exactly what they will do.
 

nightrain

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Last Sunday and Monday we had a big rain storm on the East Coast, the same one that plagued the Dallas - Buffalo game. We had a lot of rain. Sometime around 6am Monday water alarms I installed in my basement went off. They detect water on the floor of the basement and sound an alarm on my phone so I can investigate and correct any problems before I incur significant damage, like a leaking water heater or broken sump pump. Anyway I jumped out of bed, ran down the basement and noticed water on the floor underneath the electric breaker box. I noticed the water was actually dripping out of the breaker box onto the floor. I looked above and around the box for a source of water. I found none, but clearly the water was coming out of the breaker box itself. I removed the cover from the box and noticed a pool of water on the bottom of the box. The weird thing is the water was leaking in from the main power cable itself. Somehow water had managed to infiltrate into the cable inside the sheathing and insulation. The cable was dry on the outside, but leaking water from inside which was dripping directly onto a couple of electrical connections to the circuit breakers. Of course it was the 50 amp breaker for the AC. The bottom of the breaker box, which is metal, is rusting considerable so this is something that has been going on for a long time, but not bad enough to be noticeable until this week. Obviously it only happens when it rains, and most rain is less severe than what we had last Sunday.

The utility company is going to send someone out today, but has anyone ever heard of or seen anything like this? I have had 3 houses in my life plus the houses I grew up in as a kid and I have never seen anything like this. I know water will find its way into a house if there is a way into the house, but this situations is the weirdest I have experienced. Water and electricity do not go well together so this is something that needs a remedy. I have a feeling this might be more than spraying some flex-seal on the cable outside, but who knows. Maybe that is exactly what they will do.
I would be surprised to see this, but it sounds like your house service drop was spliced to the utility feed without a drip loop. Another possibility would be the meter box has lost its integrity.
 

Creeper

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I would be surprised to see this, but it sounds like your house service drop was spliced to the utility feed without a drip loop. Another possibility would be the meter box has lost its integrity.
I can check for the drip loop, but you may be on to something with the meter. The electric company installed a new meter a few years ago. They upgraded for some reason. But the box is sealed and I can't open it without breaking the seal. They'll be here today. I'll see what they find. Or at least they are supposed to be here today. It will be dark in 90 minutes so who knows. I just want an answer before it rains again, which is forecasted for Tuesday.
 

nightrain

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I can check for the drip loop, but you may be on to something with the meter. The electric company installed a new meter a few years ago. They upgraded for some reason. But the box is sealed and I can't open it without breaking the seal. They'll be here today. I'll see what they find. Or at least they are supposed to be here today. It will be dark in 90 minutes so who knows. I just want an answer before it rains again, which is forecasted for Tuesday.
Good luck!
 

1942willys

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Just because something is new does not necessarily mean its a good thing
 

Runwildboys

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I would be surprised to see this, but it sounds like your house service drop was spliced to the utility feed without a drip loop. Another possibility would be the meter box has lost its integrity.
I was thinking the drip loop too, but either there's a tear in the jacket inside the wall, or @Creeper is mistaken about it coming from inside the cable. It seems rather impossible for water to travel very far inside the cable.
 

Runwildboys

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I can check for the drip loop, but you may be on to something with the meter. The electric company installed a new meter a few years ago. They upgraded for some reason. But the box is sealed and I can't open it without breaking the seal. They'll be here today. I'll see what they find. Or at least they are supposed to be here today. It will be dark in 90 minutes so who knows. I just want an answer before it rains again, which is forecasted for Tuesday.
Keep us in the loop! (No pun intended...no, really!)
 

Runwildboys

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I have a feeling the electrical panel is mounted on the outside wall where the service comes in.
I don't think I've ever seen that with a house. He said his breaker box is in the basement, and I assumed the only thing on the outside is his meter. Definitely curious to read about the outcome of this one!
 

nightrain

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I don't think I've ever seen that with a house. He said his breaker box is in the basement, and I assumed the only thing on the outside is his meter. Definitely curious to read about the outcome of this one!
To better clarify, the box may be mounted on the inside of an exposure wall. The meter perhaps on the other side that wall. My panel is on an interior, partition wall.
 

Creeper

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I was thinking the drip loop too, but either there's a tear in the jacket inside the wall, or @Creeper is mistaken about it coming from inside the cable. It seems rather impossible for water to travel very far inside the cable.
No, I am not mistaken. I it definitely coming from inside the cable. I did not get a picture or video at the time, but the cable comes into the basement from the East wall. The panel is on the North wall. So the main cable travels about 3 ft from the East wall to the panel. The outside of the cable is perfectly dry. So is the point it enters the basement through the wall. But more importantly, if the water was traveling down the outside of the cable, why is there only water inside the breaker box? Believe me before I opened the breaker box I inspected every other possible path for the water to take because it never occurred to me the water could possibly be coming through the cable itself. Everything is dry except the inside of the box. Inside the box the sheathing on the main cable is stripped away and the contents of the cable are revealed - two black insulated and large copper wires which provide the main electrical service and a bunch, about 20 or 30, of what look like aluminum wires twisted around each other. The water can be seen flowing (slowly) among the twisted aluminum wires until it drips down into the box.

I waited around all day yesterday and the electric company never showed up. Typical. I am wondering now if they will be here today or next Tuesday (when it is supposed to rai, or ever. Their offices are closed so I cannot call until Tuesday.

I considered getting up on a ladder with a can of sealer but I have an aversion to being on an aluminum ladder near 220 amps of electrical service so I will wait.
 

nightrain

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No, I am not mistaken. I it definitely coming from inside the cable. I did not get a picture or video at the time, but the cable comes into the basement from the East wall. The panel is on the North wall. So the main cable travels about 3 ft from the East wall to the panel. The outside of the cable is perfectly dry. So is the point it enters the basement through the wall. But more importantly, if the water was traveling down the outside of the cable, why is there only water inside the breaker box? Believe me before I opened the breaker box I inspected every other possible path for the water to take because it never occurred to me the water could possibly be coming through the cable itself. Everything is dry except the inside of the box. Inside the box the sheathing on the main cable is stripped away and the contents of the cable are revealed - two black insulated and large copper wires which provide the main electrical service and a bunch, about 20 or 30, of what look like aluminum wires twisted around each other. The water can be seen flowing (slowly) among the twisted aluminum wires until it drips down into the box.

I waited around all day yesterday and the electric company never showed up. Typical. I am wondering now if they will be here today or next Tuesday (when it is supposed to rai, or ever. Their offices are closed so I cannot call until Tuesday.

I considered getting up on a ladder with a can of sealer but I have an aversion to being on an aluminum ladder near 220 amps of electrical service so I will wait.
Please do not go up on a ladder anywhere near your power cables. You may want to call an electrician. The power company is typically not responsible for your service drop. Did you see a drip loop where your house splice is and is the cut end of the exposed cable sheathing on the house side facing down at the splice

 
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Runwildboys

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To better clarify, the box may be mounted on the inside of an exposure wall. The meter perhaps on the other side that wall. My panel is on an interior, partition wall.
Oh, okay, yeah. They usually have the meter as close as possible to the breaker box. Mine is actually on an adjacent wall, but still only about 10' away.
 

nobody

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I don't think I've ever seen that with a house. He said his breaker box is in the basement, and I assumed the only thing on the outside is his meter. Definitely curious to read about the outcome of this one!
In my previous house, it was all outside, including the breaker box. That house was built in 1981. I found it re-volting. Fortunately my current house has the breaker box in the garage and all of the lines are buried.
 

SlammedZero

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Water can indeed get inside cables. When I did comm installs back in the day, all of the appropriate outdoor rated cable has what we called icky-pick inside of it. The stuff is sticky and nasty to work with.

For water to ride an electrical cable though, that sounds crazy. I'm pretty sure electric cable does not come with any water blocking as water isn't ever suppose to be there. You'd think you would be getting short circuits or sparks. Be careful poking around that and keep us posted. I'd be curious to see how that happened.
 

Creeper

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I have some pictures for anyone interested in this thread.

6gqlosz6_b.jpg


This is the connection to the house. the gray cable running down the side of the house runs into the meter, then through the wall into the basement.

QpYfpbEZ_b.jpg


This is the connection into the breaker panel You can see the silver cables have some corrosion on them. This is where I saw the water coming out of the cable.

oLjl3Djd_b.jpg


This last picture is the bottom of the metal break panel box. The water is dripping onto the last breaker at the bottom of the box.

It is not raining today so there is no water flow.
 

nightrain

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I have some pictures for anyone interested in this thread.

6gqlosz6_b.jpg


This is the connection to the house. the gray cable running down the side of the house runs into the meter, then through the wall into the basement.

QpYfpbEZ_b.jpg


This is the connection into the breaker panel You can see the silver cables have some corrosion on them. This is where I saw the water coming out of the cable.

oLjl3Djd_b.jpg


This last picture is the bottom of the metal break panel box. The water is dripping onto the last breaker at the bottom of the box.

It is not raining today so there is no water flow.
I can't see from your pictures very well, but it doesn't look like your weather head opening at the top of your service drop is closed off to the elements. Sometimes pieces of this fitting get blown or knocked off. If your meter box is located at or above the height of your electrical panel (EP), water can run down your conductors through your meter box and into your EP.

41hcLjC0vFL.jpg
 

Creeper

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I can't see from your pictures very well, but it doesn't look like your weather head opening at the top of your service drop is closed off to the elements. Sometimes pieces of this fitting get blown or knocked off. If your meter box is located at or above the height of your electrical panel (EP), water can run down your conductors through your meter box and into your EP.

41hcLjC0vFL.jpg
So who repairs this, an electrician or the power company? I just want it fixed.
 
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