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Underground Electrical Service Wire Problems

Updated on August 27, 2011

 Underground electrical service is a desirable scenario because there is no chance of tree limbs or storm damage affecting your home's direct power supply line.  However, there are a few issues that are common with underground electrical service. 

Water Leakage

The underground service cable requires that a piece of conduit be ran into the home where the main service breaker is located.  This is typically in the basement where the main serviced panel is located, or, in southern states, the garage.  If the main service panel is located in the basement there is a chance of water leaking into the electrical panel, creating a dangerous situation. 

Many times the electrical contractors who install the underground service do not install the conduit all the way to where the service cables connect to the meter.  Instead, the conduit sticks up above the soil line and in or two, which will move throughout the course of the lifespan of the house, eventually sinking and allowing rain water to flow into the conduit and directly into the service panel.

Ground Hogs/Rodents

In some jurisdictions, running the underground service cable to the house from the utility box does not have to be encased in conduit.  This opens up the chance of ground hogs and other burrowing creatures to accidentally gnaw into the cable and create a short.  If this occurs, the power to your house could be gone with few ways to remedy the situation except to run a new line.  This is also very common where conduit is not used from homes to out buildings or garages as mice and chipmunks will chew on the cable where it is exposed.

Insufficient Depth

No matter where you live, the ground is continuously shifting.  If the main service line is buried too shallow in your yard and you hit it digging with a shovel or someone else hits it digging, the likely hood of them being severally electrocuted is high.  It is important to have diggers hot line mark all wires and pipes before digging anywhere in a yard.

Underground utilities offer less hassles than overhead service lines, but there are still issues that can arise.  If you see any of these issues, call your electrician immediately.


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