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Service mast not encased in metal


MelB
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I did an inspection yesterday on a 100 year old house in Chicago, and came an electrical issue I haven't seen before. The whole house seemed to have been wired well, with a couple of exceptions. I haven't ever seen electric service without a mast before. It was just flex cable, like UF, but had the correct size aluminum wiring for a 100 amp service. Has anyone seen this before? I'm guessing that it was put in when the addition on the back of the house was built. The service comes in, drops down through the addition, clamped to the wall in the room, then goes through the floor, travels along the floor of the addition to the meter which is on the exterior wall of the addition, then travels back into the basement, into the service panel.

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Travel internationally and you will see all types of wiring, structural and plumbing nightmares. In crude third world countries they often "steal" electicity by tapping into the power poles. It is very dangerous and 100% illegal. In the case with the photo, it is suggested that it be brought up to current standards without any questions or grand-fathering sidetracking. In short it is much better to have a proper mast at a proper location than none at all.

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Kurt has said many times that Chicago has its own unique rules. I'm guessing like interior wiring, SECs are also always in conduit there.

We have very, very few masts here. They're only on itty-bitty buildings that aren't tall enough to get the required clearance from grade, street or driveway for the service drop.

What you have there in pic 1 & 3 would be acceptable here, except the service head wouldn't be considered rain-tight installed on its side like that.

The panel would not be acceptable on its side though, because breakers that are *down* are *on*.

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The main purpose of the a mast is to raise the service drop so it meets at least minimum height requirements. Lack of a mast is not a problem by itself unless the cable is too low.

The fact that the SEC uses the interior of the building to travel from one point to another before coming back out through the wall to a meter, that doesnt sound right.

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Our local AHJ and several codes editions have a minimum distance from meter base/hub to main disconnect. One local jurisdiction would allow the photo configuration, but would require physical protection or conduit from meter base to disconnect and that would have to be no longer than 36" on a horizontal plane. We have seen hundreds with cloth cable drop to a screwed onto siding meter hub, then 1 1/4" conduit horizontally for a foot or so, then a main disconnect and the same crappy cable leaving disconnect box 25' to another main and panel.

All service entrance equipment is regulated by tooooooooo many people. My take has always been; I report anything I just plainly don't like or isn't sensible. This is one area that I have no problems telling clients that this is just MY opinion. Never got into trouble yet.

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