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Thread: Electric Meter Service Drop

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    Default Electric Meter Service Drop

    I have a question for you guys; I have been thinking about how to connect to the electric service drop.

    When you direct connect to the meter, you have the pos red lead connected to the meter and your black neg lead to the ground rod. If it is a perfect situation your signal will travel to the transformer and then back to your transmitter through the ground.

    The question I have is; isn't the meter grounded? You can't unbond it so wouldn't your signal just return to the transmitter? Or does some signal still travel to the transformer so you can locate?

    What does your signal travel on when hooking up to Electric? Is it the neutral or Ground of the cable itself? I am thinking that the cable coming from the transformer to the house has a ground close to the outer side of the cable, and then a Hot and Neutral? Maybe the meter is grounded through the ground of the cable coming from the transformer?

    My curse in life is that I think to much into things and can't rest until I completely understand them.

    Semper Fi,

    Bob

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    Default Re: Electric Meter Service Drop

    Your signal travels on the common ground while locating the electric. Yes when hooking up you lose part of your signal to the ground because you cannot unbond the electric.

    For me electric is still the trickiest to locate. One thing to remember is that the tel and tv share a common ground with the electric. Because we cannot isolate the electric it is good to try to isolate the other utilities away from the electric. If you unbond the other utilities you will decrease your chance of bleed off. Another good thing is check your depth often. A very shallow depth normally means your bleeding off on the tv or tel drop.

    Hope this helps. Good to see such well thought out questions by someone still in training class.

    Jim

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    Senior Member Hurricane9's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Meter Service Drop

    When you locate electric, you are actually locate the neutral. Hopefully those cables were twisted or taped together. Unfortunately that's not always the case. You described the textbook setup to locate the electric. The meter is grounded, and so is the neutral. Since there is a better ground going towards the transformer, or substation, it's best to locate electric from the out ends whenever possible.

    One big thing to watch for is catv grounding out to the electric meter. It's a great ground for them, and they do tend to do it. If you see it grounded to the meter, then make sure you disconnect it before you locate the electric, otherwise you will pick up the catv drop.

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    Default Re: Electric Meter Service Drop

    Wow, talk about quick replys!!! Thanks alot guys; we haven't gone over Electric yet but I wanted to get a better understanding for when we do. We did go over it briefly and I did learn to locate from the Out Ends and also to unbond the other utilitys.

    I am fortunate to have a Great Instructor; the guy really cares about getting us to understand this all. I have been asking a lot of questions and he never seems like I am taking up his time. I thought that I would give him a break on this question.

    I will pass along your Great tip Goldenboy on the depth check!

    Semper Fi,

    Bob

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    Wag
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    Default Re: Electric Meter Service Drop

    I didn't catch where you're training/hired on, Bob. I'm in Indy w/ SM&P.

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    Wag
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    Default Re: Electric Meter Service Drop

    When it comes to Electric, there are more "special" situations than any other utility, and you won't learn them in training. After 10 months locating, I'm still learning different ways to get electric to run. Streetlights are sometimes a bitch. Either have to turn the signal way up, or run it from the opposite end (transformer). Even had to have Elec. company out on Wed. to direct connect me in the transformer. In loading docks/other areas w/ nothing but pavement, you have to find interesting spots for your black lead. And you'd think a major H.P. Switchgear cable would run, or at least powermode, but some don't and are essentially unlocateable. Checking depth is mostly reliable... But conversely, here in Indy where we locate for phone, catv, various f/o's, gas, power, and water, if we need to locate catv drop and it's not bonded up at the other end correctly (or runs up a pole), then cranking up the signal will get it, but also other things grounded (like electric). Depth may determine it, but catv MAY be buried joint w/ power...
    Ah, the joys of locating (Ah, the confusion of newbies).

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    Default Re: Electric Meter Service Drop

    Why is everyone reluctant to lift the ground to achieve isolation? What do you think will happen? The ground as three purposes--1) Over voltage protection--Don't remove the ground during a lightening storm. 2) Voltage stabilization--Since your neutral runs to the utility transformer, which is grounded, you have not lost your ground reference. 3) Current path in order to facilitate the operation of overcurrent devices If your locate is not on a steel frame building (for example, a home, than you are not likely to short anything to ground. If you have a steel frame building and something shorts to ground during your locate, than you could have a problem. I think the decision depends on the nature of the structure and its use.

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    Default Re: Electric Meter Service Drop

    you have to really be careful when locating power because of the bad grounding system.....most of the buried's are fairly deep!!! use extreme caution!!!
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Default Re: Electric Meter Service Drop

    Electric is the only utility that I locate in 512 (less than 1 Mh.) at all times when I can get continuity. With most everything using electric as a common ground. It is the only way I can be positive. Catv and Tele drop will always steel a little signal, but I can always pinpoint it. If that doesn't work, I end up having to couple.
    STRESS: The confusion created when one's mind overrides the body's basic desire to choke the living daylights out of some idiot who desperately deserves it.

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    Senior Member sprayandpray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Meter Service Drop

    I have good luck locating the services with my coupler - just make sure that the catv or telephone drops are not inside the coupler.
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    Default Re: Electric Meter Service Drop

    Quote Originally Posted by testtech View Post
    Why is everyone reluctant to lift the ground to achieve isolation? What do you think will happen? The ground as three purposes--1) Over voltage protection--Don't remove the ground during a lightening storm. 2) Voltage stabilization--Since your neutral runs to the utility transformer, which is grounded, you have not lost your ground reference. 3) Current path in order to facilitate the operation of overcurrent devices If your locate is not on a steel frame building (for example, a home, than you are not likely to short anything to ground. If you have a steel frame building and something shorts to ground during your locate, than you could have a problem. I think the decision depends on the nature of the structure and its use.
    And if there is some sort of a "leak" to ground? Think of it this way, A car battery with a dirty top can and will slowly drain down, This is due to the dirt on the battery holding enough moisture for a small amount of current to conduct thru. Now bump that up to a house drop with who knows how old connections in the meter socket, a 13.8 k trans that's been shifted by a plow or a car wreck or just plain old.
    As I tell the line crews when I am on a fault, I got knocked across the room when I was 4 trying to plug in the Christmas tree lights. I DON'T screw with power anymore! lol

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    Default Re: Electric Meter Service Drop

    Quote Originally Posted by Wag View Post
    When it comes to Electric, there are more "special" situations than any other utility, and you won't learn them in training. After 10 months locating, I'm still learning different ways to get electric to run. Streetlights are sometimes a bitch. Either have to turn the signal way up, or run it from the opposite end (transformer). Even had to have Elec. company out on Wed. to direct connect me in the transformer. In loading docks/other areas w/ nothing but pavement, you have to find interesting spots for your black lead. And you'd think a major H.P. Switchgear cable would run, or at least powermode, but some don't and are essentially unlocateable. Checking depth is mostly reliable... But conversely, here in Indy where we locate for phone, catv, various f/o's, gas, power, and water, if we need to locate catv drop and it's not bonded up at the other end correctly (or runs up a pole), then cranking up the signal will get it, but also other things grounded (like electric). Depth may determine it, but catv MAY be buried joint w/ power...
    Ah, the joys of locating (Ah, the confusion of newbies).
    I hear you Wag, I know there is a lot of learning to do; that's why I love this forum!!!!

    Semper Fi

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    Senior Member big boots mcghee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Electric Meter Service Drop

    Quote Originally Posted by Wag View Post
    When it comes to Electric, there are more "special" situations than any other utility, and you won't learn them in training. After 10 months locating, I'm still learning different ways to get electric to run. Streetlights are sometimes a bitch. Either have to turn the signal way up, or run it from the opposite end (transformer). Even had to have Elec. company out on Wed. to direct connect me in the transformer. In loading docks/other areas w/ nothing but pavement, you have to find interesting spots for your black lead. And you'd think a major H.P. Switchgear cable would run, or at least powermode, but some don't and are essentially unlocateable. Checking depth is mostly reliable.
    I've been locating power for almost 10 years and it continues to humble me on a regular basis. After 2-3 years I thought I had seen it all and knew it all when it came to power. Hook up in 8 khz at various points, maybe do a power sweep here & there, and I thought that was it. I couldn't have been more naive. Nowadays, I absolutely love the challenge that locating power brings on an almost daily basis. All I can say is trust your signals, trust your equipment, and paint confidently when you do things right. There are more buried facilities out there that run out of the ordinary than you can guess.
    My boots may be red but I'm no clown.

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    Default Re: Electric Meter Service Drop

    USMCSS--You cannot be shocked if you lift a ground. If there are wiring errors or shorts on the system, then current may be present on the ground conductor. Its potential or voltage to ground is zero. You can put your hand on it and nothing will happen. If you are concerned about detecting the presence of fault current, simply place a clamp-on ammeter on the ground conductor and you will then know. You mentioned a fault on the utility transformer as a possible source of overvoltage during locating. This transformer has its own ground. I think we are talking about lifting a premises ground and not a utility ground. If you lift the utility ground than a tracing signal placed on the premises neutral could not get back to ground. You can't lift the utility or other primary source ground and expect to trace the neutral.

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    Default Re: Electric Meter Service Drop

    Quote Originally Posted by testtech View Post
    USMCSS--You cannot be shocked if you lift a ground. If there are wiring errors or shorts on the system, then current may be present on the ground conductor. Its potential or voltage to ground is zero. You can put your hand on it and nothing will happen. If you are concerned about detecting the presence of fault current, simply place a clamp-on ammeter on the ground conductor and you will then know. You mentioned a fault on the utility transformer as a possible source of overvoltage during locating. This transformer has its own ground. I think we are talking about lifting a premises ground and not a utility ground. If you lift the utility ground than a tracing signal placed on the premises neutral could not get back to ground. You can't lift the utility or other primary source ground and expect to trace the neutral.
    Testtech, I think you have my question confused with someone else; check my question at the top again. But thanks anyway!

    Semper Fi

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