Knowhow-Now Article

Repairing Broken Underground And Above Ground Electrical Wires

Any damage to an underground wire requires the repair skills of a licensed electrical contractor or the electrical power company in the community that have the skills, knowledge, expertise and authority to handle the problem. Nearly every state in the union requires a general contractor or subcontractor have a digging permit in order to do any type of digging that can cause an electrical break.

In fact digging a hole or trench without the proper permit could generate a backbreaking fine. It is always imperative to check with the local underground utility department in the community to obtain guidelines on digging in the area.

That being said, there are many reasons that an underground electrical conduit can be destroyed or damaged. Usually, it is a result of environmental conditions, or aging wires. To be safe, all the repairs need to be handled properly to ensure they are done correctly.

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The first step in tackling any type of broken power line is to make sure that the breaker to that specific line has been turned off. Next, the broken line will need to be carefully dug up and secured. All portions of the wire will need to be cleaned of its insulation back approximately 3 inches to expose the wire.

The wire must maintain its cleanliness until the repair is complete. The electrician will then place both ends of the strip wire in a protective exothermic-weld stove. Filled with a firing powder, the electrician will then light the stove and allow the weld to react. Only after it is completely cooled can it be held.

For any repair of an electrical box above the surface, the process is much different. It follows traditional construction national electric code. All wires must be pulled apart, stripped away, and exposed, only after the power has been tested as off. This is often performed using a voltage tester for determining that the power has been safely turned off.

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All wiring in the box needs to be re-attached. All like-colored wires are attached together meaning that black goes to black, and white goes to white before using the appropriate size cap to hold all of the wires together. In addition, if there is a green screw in the box, a bare wire must be attached to it and firmly attached to the grounding wire(s).

Many electricians will then use electrical black tape to wrap around all of the attached wires to ensure that they do not move out of their sleeve. Next they will push the wiring back into the box to ensure they are firmly in place and not pressing up against any wall including the faceplate. Only then do they secure the faceplate to the outside and tighten it with the screws.

In both incidences, the electrician or the electrical power company will then turn the circuit breaker back on. They will then test the system to make sure that the wires are working properly to ensure the safety of everyone that comes in contact with the wire.

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