When an electrical problem occurs due to natural calamities or other reasons, we get confused about whom to call for repair and maintenance. But, before that, you should know a few things about the power lines for which you are responsible.
The House owner is responsible for power lines from pole to house. Since the wire is connected to a certain property, the owner must make sure that the wire remains in good condition. Also, if these lines need repair, the company will repair them, but you must bear the expenses for the same.
This guide will explain the house owner’s responsibility for the power lines connected from the pole to the house. Besides, I will also share information about how the line from the pole is taken to the house.
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Who is responsible for the power lines from the pole to the house?
During the old days, the electricity companies served only the local areas.
Electricity could not travel far away as it does in recent times.
But after that, things started improving.
Now, most houses have electricity from the grid, interconnected power supply areas, and users.
As the population increased, the power plants increased, and so did the demand for electricity over long distances.
Adding power lines over huge areas to link the cities with the power plants is easy.
But, distribution rights, responsibilities, and authorities come with these connections, and dealing with them is difficult.
These areas have also evolved.
The municipality is responsible for maintaining a particular locality’s main electric pole.
Once the line divides and invades our houses, the power line is the responsibility of the secondary utility companies, other service companies, and their parties.
After that, when the lines enter your property, the lines are now your responsibility.
However, there are some loopholes related to maintenance that the house owner must know.
When a power line is connected to a certain house, it is done by the utility companies of the specific locality.
So, they will only control the power line and the connections.
But, since the power lines run from the pole to your property, you become the power line owner and will be responsible.
If anything happens, the companies will repair it, but they will take the repair and maintenance charge from the house owner.
How does power get from a pole to a house?
There will be a set of poles past every house with one phase of power, i.e., at 7,200 volts, and a ground wire.
Sometimes, there will be 2-3 phases on the pole, but that relies on the house’s location in the distribution grid.
Every house will have a transformer drum attached to a pole.
In suburban areas, the distribution lines are under the ground, and each house will have green transformer boxes.
The transformer helps reduce the 7,200 volts to 240 volts.
It is the normal electrical volts required for regular houses.
The grounding wire is a bare wire running from the down of the pole.
Each utility pole will have this wire stapled in a coil at the base.
This ground wire is in direct contact with the earth, running around 6-10 feet under the ground.
You can see this if you observe closely.
Two wires run out from the transformer, and three to the house.
The wires running to the transformers are insulated.
Another bare wire running down the pole is the ground wire.
The two insulated wires carry 120 volts of currents each.
But, they are 180° out of the phase for which the difference between them is 240 volts.
So, you get to use both 120 and 240 volts.
The 240-volt wires enter a house with the help of a watt-hour meter.
It helps you know the amount of electricity consumed in your house.
It will further help the companies know how much you charge for those wires.
In older days, people used to have meter boxes to check their electricity usage.
But, with time, things got upgraded.
Now, the meters have become advanced and smart and can communicate directly with electrical companies.
The smart meter not only reads your meter but also knows about the power outage and speeds up the recovery time.
What wire gets from the pole to my house?
Several electrical wires from the poles enter a small plastic cover, drop down, and reach a meter of a home.
These wires are called service masts.
All the houses get their powers from the overhead wires, and they must have a service mast.
A service mast has some wires that transport the current from your city’s overhead wires to your house.
In simple words, two wires are connected from the pole to your house, neutral and live wires.
They are insulated and carry enough current.
Another one that runs down the pole is a bare wire, i.e., the ground wire.
Who is responsible for the low-hanging power lines?
The poles outside the houses will have an electric tank hanging with a transformer to decrease the voltage.
All the high-voltage wires are at the top, and the low-voltage wires are at the lower points.
If you find that these wires are lowering down to a position where you can touch them, it is not a good thing.
Sometimes, it might happen because of some tree branches and heavy winds.
These branches can make the lines fall, wear away the insulation, and create short circuits.
That is why you will find that people from power companies come to correct these wires.
So, whenever your power lines are bending too low, call the local utility company to fix them.
They will either solve problems themselves or recommend you a good electrician.
The utility is responsible for the wire from the pole on the street.
Still, you will be responsible for your house’s connector and the wire connected to the meter down the house.
Who is responsible for the overhead power lines?
Overhead power lines are also defined as service drops.
When there arrives a problem with the overhead power lines, the urgency for fixation occurs in two situations:
The tree branches
Suppose the overhead power lines are touching the trees from one pole to another.
In that case, it is the responsibility of the utility companies to fix the issues.
They must get rid of the trees near the poles, so they do not mess up with the wire lines.
But, if the power lines are going from the pole to your property, you are responsible for the maintenance.
It would be best to control the vegetation around your properties.
So, if you have trees around your house that may touch and disturb the power lines, get rid of them.
When the power lines enter your property, they will be connected to the masthead or inside your house.
The wires may drop in a drip loop for a capillary break.
As a result, this will transition between the lines of your local utility company and the house owner.
Service entrance conductors are the lines entering the masthead or the owner’s house.
A clamp and insulation will occur when a transition happens between the overhead lines and the service entrance conductors.
There will be situations like insulation falling off or plastic covers on the insulation missing, and you receive a shock hazard for this.
For all these reasons, utility companies will be responsible.
When this happens, you must call them several times to fix the problems.
Who is responsible for the service drop?
A service drop occurs due to the discontinuation of the low-hanging power lines like houses or telephone lines.
The reason for this could be tree branches or insulation problems.
You will sometimes notice company staff coming around and cleaning the branches close to the power lines to avoid any issues.
So, fixing a service drop and preventing it is the responsibility of the utility companies.
Responsibility for the electrical elements
Understanding which electrical components are whose responsibility is quite difficult.
So, to clarify, I have briefly shared some things related to electricity and the people responsible for it.
Responsibility of the electric companies
The companies of electricity are responsible for maintaining and repairing certain items, like:
- Wooden utility poles
- Overhead and underground power lines
- Electric service lines running between the poles
- Electric meters
House owner’s responsibility
The house owners have a lot of responsibility related to the electrical wires.
They must look after most of the equipment inside and around their properties.
Even if you own the wires around and inside your property, you should never attempt any work on your own unless you are an expert.
Always call for professionals to repair whatever is needed.
The house owner’s responsibilities are:
- A hood-shaped cap over the metal pipe connects the electric service lines from the pole to your house.
- The wires inside and around your property. It includes the wires connected with the Weatherhead and meter and the lines leading from the meter.
- The meter base protects the electric meter of your house.
- Access to the experts for repairing issues with the electric meter, service lines, or transformers.
- Granting access to the Oncor and Oncor contractors for inspecting your property, repair, and maintenance of your service lines, transformers, meters, and other electrical equipment. Though they make all attempts, that might not be enough. So, it is your responsibility to make the access too.
The low voltage lines running from the power lines to your house are your responsibility as the house owner.
Oncor owns the high voltage lines on the transformer and utility poles.
So, if there are any trees around your property, you must remove them, so they do not interfere with the power lines.
If you don’t remove them and something happens to the wires, you are responsible for the repair and maintenance fees.
Otherwise, the trees near the lines in the poles and transformers are the duty of your locality’s electrical and utility companies.
How do I identify the line company in my area?
While receiving a notice related to cutting or trimming a tree close to your property, you will find the name of the line company in the notice.
If you still can’t get it, you can use the Electrical Network Association’s online map to find the company.
Or, contact the retailer who takes up your electricity bills and find out the company of your area.
Also for Reference: National Electrical Contractors Association
Understanding which power lines are whose responsibility is quite confusing, especially if you do not have any idea about them. Simply put, the electrical lines in the poles are the responsibility of the electricity companies.
Once the power lines are connected to your property, it becomes your responsibility to care for them and bear the charges behind all sorts of repairs and maintenance.
The live and neutral wires are connected from the pole to your house. Another bare one going down the pole is the ground wire.
Whose responsibility is it if the power lines are pulled off the house?
When a power line is connected from the pole to your house, you must take care of its condition.
You took the connection from the municipality, and now, it belongs to you.
So, if the power lines are pulled off from your house, you must deal with it being the owner.
You may call an electrician, but you should bear the repair and maintenance charges.
Who is responsible for the power cable to a house?
It is the electric companies’ responsibility because they provide you with the service of power cables and electric wires.
Sometimes, it is the owner’s responsibility, too, as you must stay aware and share information with the companies.
Who is responsible for the service entrance cable?
Since it is inside the house owner’s property, the owner is responsible for it.
Sources: U.S. Department Of Energy