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Water in the panel


kurt
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This one has me going. I have no idea how water is getting in.

The arrow is pointing at a water drop that's coming out of the center of the SEC. There is no water coming in through the conduit or service ell. I didn't pull the meter (obviously).

Is it possible that water is running down the service drop wires, into the wiring connection, and then some version of water seeking it's own level forcing water to run up the inside of the SEC and into the masthead?

This panel was sopping wet inside, and there wasn't any indication of water coming from anywhere........(?)....

Very strange.

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tn_201046231431_waterdrip.jpg

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Kurt,

What's to stop a wind-driven rain from sending water in through the weatherhead? How do you KNOW it's not getting in that way. I know I couldn't determine that during a home inspection.

I'd estimate that I see evidence of rainwater entering about 10-15% of the panels I've ever looked at. More often than not, that's how it happens.

Jimmy

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I often see water get into panels by 1. penetrating the top of a poorly sealed meter base 2. getting behind a meter base that isn't sealed where it meets the exterior wall allowing water to run the length of the jacket, or 3. just running the the length of the cable under the meter base because it slopes downward (without a drip loop) before it penetrates the outside wall or foundation. It seems less likely it's entering at the weatherhead since there would be a break in the jacket at the meter connections within the meter base.

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If it's entering the weatherhead, wouldn't it be running into the panel through the conduit? Same thing with a break in conduit, which wasn't broken.

All the water I could see was running out of the center of the SEC in the panel. The conduit and all other physical connections were bone dry.

I suppose the meter could be full of water, and it's running into the wire, but that would mean there'd be water running out of the conduit into the panel.

I see water stains in a fair number of panels; it's relatively easy to trace it to entrance through the weatherhead. This isn't that way.

Think about this.....all the water was running out of the center of the wire. I could see it dripping out of the main lugs, but the wire sheath was bone dry. Water was running down the bus, apparently from the main breaker lugs.

How's it do that?

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I had this happen on my last house and posted about it several years ago.

We all scratched our head for quite a while. Even more disturbing was that my service was underground lateral - no exposure to the elements.

After a while, the best answer I could get was from the utilty company; they postulated two things: 1) while the cable is sitting on the drum in the yard, a tremendous amount of water can enter the cable and 2) water is somehow generated via condensation and actually transmitted through the cable where it finally exists and drips--right in to the panel.

Sounds whacky but it was the best answers I could get at the time.

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If it's entering the weatherhead, wouldn't it be running into the panel through the conduit? Same thing with a break in conduit, which wasn't broken.

All the water I could see was running out of the center of the SEC in the panel. The conduit and all other physical connections were bone dry.

I suppose the meter could be full of water, and it's running into the wire, but that would mean there'd be water running out of the conduit into the panel.

I see water stains in a fair number of panels; it's relatively easy to trace it to entrance through the weatherhead. This isn't that way.

Think about this.....all the water was running out of the center of the wire. I could see it dripping out of the main lugs, but the wire sheath was bone dry. Water was running down the bus, apparently from the main breaker lugs.

How's it do that?

Maybe water's dripping onto the upward-facing center of the wire inside the meter can.

I'd have opened the can.

- Jim Katen

(Utility company seal? What utility company seal?)

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It has to be entering below or at the meter, there is no way water is penetrating that wire above the mast.

What was growing against the siding in that area? Looks like something was removed or trimmed away from the house. Or did you just have a nice windy rainstorm today? We had some nice thunderstorms up in Milwaukee last night.

The conductor shown has not turned green so it is most likely fairly infrequent that this is occurring, probably just the wind and rain.

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Maybe water's dripping onto the upward-facing center of the wire inside the meter can.

I'd have opened the can.

- Jim Katen

(Utility company seal? What utility company seal?)

I would've, but the harpy listing agent was screeching about everything. I even tried to sneak out and do it surreptitiously, but she knows me and kept following. I did my little thing of running the stairs up and down until she gave out, but I still couldn't get to the meter without being shadowed. The answer is in the meter box. No particular matter, this deal isn't going through no how; the joint's a dump.

Barlyhop, the wire was green; quite a bit. I didn't want to stick my camera in the panel to show all the stains and rust, but the thing was running water, and apparently has been doing it for a long time.

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That's what I keep thinking........the bugs are about 3" higher than the top of the masthead, water seeks it's own level, etc.......

But then, how's it getting through the meter socket to "pump" into the entrance cable?

I may have to go back there and pull the meter; the explanation is in there.

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I'll throw in my two bits....just a wild guess. The photo of the weatherhead seems to show the top end of the neutral at a higher elevation than the weatherhead, not so for the two ungrounded conductors. Gravity and capillary action might send the water down through the mast inside the conductor. Also, meter boxes around here usually have a single vertical clamp for incoming and outgoing neutrals. In fact, when I wire them, the wire goes straight through. It's not cut, just the insulation, but the wire is vertical where the insulation is cut so water could flow right through.

Never seen it happen in over 25 years, so It's a wild guess. Fix it by taping the top end of the neutral so water can't get in.

Marc

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The connection between the cable and the top of the meter housing has a pretty hefty grommet in these parts. I don't suppose much water gets past it. What is it like down in VA?

I'm sure that they start out with a grommet, as you say, and then later fails and gets puttied up with plumber's putty. As that dries out and separates, it acts like a funnel and channels it in. I only see moisture intrusion like that on older homes, and it's usually getting in at the meter base or below it due to an improperly routed cable through the wall. I am usually able to see the track coming right out of the jacket and onto the main lugs.

I'll run across that about three or four times a year.

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Somewhere in this thread is the mention of possible condensation - could it be possible that the line is heating up (maybe damaged, some of the strands broken?) and where the wires are exposed in the meter, if it's cold there than condensation could be forming on the wires, dripping back through the covered wire, dripping out the end in the panel like the picture shows. I would think if this is happening, it would only be an intermittent problem (cold times that hit the dew point) but maybe there could be a temperature difference in the two lines coming in (assuming the drip is only on one line) that could be detected. May indicate damaged incoming wiring? I realize that it's a bit off the wall, but possible? Thoughts - -

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Probably capillary action Kurt... Weatherhead is not as high as it should be. Capillary action can do some interesting things... I would have recommended that the meter box be opened and evaluated (if the tamper seal was intact). If it was not intact, (the tamper seal), I would have pulled the meter cover off...

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