What I'm Seeing Now


Service-Drop Conductors Way Too Low

Service-drop conductors way too low.  It's a drooping loop!

Service conductor wiring brings electricity to the house.

In older neighborhoods they are often above ground.  In newer neighborhoods they are underground.

At this subject house the connection to the "telephone" pole had gotten lower and lower.

The loop was only about 12' over the street.

And about 8' over the front sidewalk at the street.

On the front of his house there was a front porch, with a small deck extending out with a staircase to the driveway.

From that deck I could reach up and only about 7' high was the service line!  And I could have easily grabbed it!

Obviously the electric company needs to be called to rectify this and raise this drooping loop up.

It's a wonder that a moving fan had not clipped the service conductors over the street.  Maybe one has!

The code is clear as to clearances.  The NEC defines it here:  230.24(B) Vertical Clearance for Service-Drop Conductors.  It says the conductors should be 10' over sidewalks and pedestrian traffic; 12' over residential properties and driveways; 18' over public streets and roads.

So, no matter what, over this deck the service conductors are very, very low!

My recommendation:  this would not be the responsibility of the seller to fix.  That conductor is owned by the electric company.  In this neighborhood the electric company owns the conductors all the way to the electric meter and the electric meter itself.  From that point the wiring is the homeowner's responsibility.  In this case the seller would have to call the electric company to have them come and fix this problem.  Because it is a problem!



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 7 commentsJay Markanich • May 08 2017 10:27AM


Good morning Jay. This is a problem in my town too which is older and not well maintained this way.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) over 3 years ago

The thoroughness of your inspections is the exception making you the Prince of Home Inspectors. Too bad you are not in our service areas; we could use you!

Posted by Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI, Presence, Persistence & Perseverance (HomeSmart Realty West & Lend Smart Mortgage, Llc.) over 3 years ago

Lots of that here. I had one the other day where it loked like the service wires were coing out of a tree, really bad. I explained to them what could happen during a storm or high wind event! The power company will butcher your tress to make clearance, so it would be prudent to be there!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 3 years ago

Adds a whole new meaning to the term "Zip line."  Or would that be considered a Zap line?

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) over 3 years ago

Sheila - the electric company won't just divine these things need to be jacked back up if the neighborhood doens't let them know.  It's likely the people here don't understand how dangerous this is!

Thank you, S&N!  But safety is a big, big deal.  And this is simply unsafe.  It's the first thing I noticed pulling up to the property.

There are so many trees here, Fred, that often they are an issue as well.  I have seen trees leaning on the lines so heavily I was afraid they would pull from the house!

A Frank Zappa Krappa line, Stephen?  Maybe I could get Wrench over here to work this out?  I'd go with Zappa line.



Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

Seven feet would be more than I could grab but waaaay too close to be safe !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 3 years ago

You could be carrying a light, 6' aluminum ladder and hit it, Sally!

And the code is the minimum safety standard.  It could and should be higher than the code!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

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