month's tip is by request. I had a request for a tip on
the correct clearances for overhead services. The request
included the comment that persons at the site many times
say "if it's wrong why hasn't the power company fixed
or disconnected it?"
the answer to that question is the meter readers are not
technicians. They are trained to read meters, not police
for safety hazards. Plus, most power companies do not have
staff to just patrol the streets looking for low residential
lines. I once owned a house in California where the service
drop passed over the rear yard for about 75-feet. I could
reach up and touch the lines with my hand (and I can reach
8-feet, that's it) from grade. I called the utility company
to re-tension the lines. I arrived home that day to a note
on my door that said "lines code complying and no hazard."
Of course they thought that was it. I copied from one of
their safety brochures the illustration of a person being
electrocuted by low overhead lines and the notice to call
them ASAP if this condition was observed. I sent that with
a photo of me touching the lines and an explanation that
a technician said this condition was "safe." Needless
to say the next day a crew was at my house re-tensioning
the service drop and one of the told me the previous technician
was being "retrained."
National Electrical Code has jurisdiction over the clearances
on residential property. Basically, the minimum clearance
over any residential property is 12-vertical feet. There
is an exception of 10-vertical feet for "walking surfaces"
which can be interpreted as sidewalks and yards. I use the
10-feet rule for areas that are clearly walking surface
and 12-feet for driveways and any area a vehicle might typically
below illustration from Code Check ® depicts the Code
required clearances from grade, driveways, roads (not a
home inspectors concern) roofs and other parts of buildings.
This should help assist with recognizing proper clearances
for overhead wires.
talk next month,
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