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  1. #1
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    Default Underground Service Settling.

    Here's a couple of photos of an underground electrical service with a telescoped underground service conduit. Other than the obvious fact that backfill settling has pulled the lower conduit down about six inches, and there is no exterior grounding rod system ground, everything else looked okay with the meter box and what could be seen of the service. I'm concerned however about how much cable slack is usually left to account for this sort of settling, and are the cables possibly about to pull out of the lugs in the meter box. Is this a legitimate concern, does anyone ever say anything about this, and at what point should something be said?

    As you can see, the same thing has happened to the adjacent gas service, and I'm already calling that one out as needing correction. Thanks for your input on this!

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Underground Service Settling.

    Extrene situations call for extreme measures. I would call for that one to be checked and repaired if needed. I've never run into that myself but never say never.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Underground Service Settling.

    Something has happened unexpectedly and quickly. Look at the CATV cable, it has even been pulled. I have seen sinkholes do the exact same thing around homes. That looks like an older home as well, so that is something that has not been around for a long period of time.

    I find the service conduit pulled, broken or not even connected to the meter base often. But it is normally on newer homes in the 10 and under age. In my area we have so much rock that when it is removed for the utility trench the dirt backfill has a tendency to wash if it is not done properly.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Underground Service Settling.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Something has happened unexpectedly and quickly. Look at the CATV cable, it has even been pulled. I have seen sinkholes do the exact same thing around homes. That looks like an older home as well, so that is something that has not been around for a long period of time.
    "Something has happened unexpectedly and quickly." "Quickly" to me, in those photos, means 'since the house was last painted' ... which could have been 10 years ago. Other than the paint lines, there is nothing to indicate a time frame over which something took place.

    Could it be a sink hole? Sure, but for someone to have slipped a piece of PVC up into the outer conduit (metal? PVC?) that far to serve as an expansion joint (intended or accidental expansion joint) I am thinking that it has happened before and the last time they "fixed it" by putting in the allowance for expansion.

    I would recommend the power company check inside the meter can.

    I find the service conduit pulled, broken or not even connected to the meter base often. But it is normally on newer homes in the 10 and under age. In my area we have so much rock that when it is removed for the utility trench the dirt backfill has a tendency to wash if it is not done properly.
    I used to find rigid metal conduit rusted clean off at ground level - I used to find that so often that I recommend EVERY HI check it when they see metal conduit riser instead of PVC ... if you see rust, check it, it is likely severely rusted (little metal left at the rust), rusted through (holes), or completely rusted off - if you find any of those conditions then the riser needs to be replaced.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Underground Service Settling.

    Might have something to do with that downspout dumping right next to the gas meter.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Underground Service Settling.

    Good responses, and thanks! And yes, I did call for both utility companies to check out what is happening there. I think Jack hit the nail on the head with his observation of the downspout. If you look real carefully, you'll see the opening of an underground drainage system for the downspout, but they've quit using it for some reason. There were no water stains or evidence of leaks in the basement, and the terrain is relatively flat, with no obvious sign of a sinkhole starting.

    That gas pipe can't go down any farther. The inside end is up against the sub-floor, and the next section of pipe is bent. Someone mentioned these electrical setups with galvanized pipe. I had one of them this last spring that pulled a meter box right off the wall when it settled.

    Thanks again for confirming my thoughts on this one.


  7. #7
    Loren Sanders Sr.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Underground Service Settling.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Chambers View Post
    Good responses, and thanks! And yes, I did call for both utility companies to check out what is happening there. I think Jack hit the nail on the head with his observation of the downspout. If you look real carefully, you'll see the opening of an underground drainage system for the downspout, but they've quit using it for some reason. There were no water stains or evidence of leaks in the basement, and the terrain is relatively flat, with no obvious sign of a sinkhole starting.

    That gas pipe can't go down any farther. The inside end is up against the sub-floor, and the next section of pipe is bent. Someone mentioned these electrical setups with galvanized pipe. I had one of them this last spring that pulled a meter box right off the wall when it settled.

    Thanks again for confirming my thoughts on this one.
    The plumbing to the gas meter would be of more concern to me. Not likely done by a plumber with credentials. Those pipes appear to be severely rusted. I would definitely paint liquid soap diluted to show the bubbles of a potential leak and not only at the joints. Natural gas is also dangerous. On second thought, I would suggest the gas line underground may need to be replaced. If I were an inspector I would write it up, at least. I am not an inspector but have years of experience with natural gas.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Underground Service Settling.

    Soap bubbles will not show a potential leak, they will only show an active leak.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Underground Service Settling.

    I think the best way to check the gas lines is to pressure test them.
    In my area, if the gas has been turned off for 6 months or more, the gas company requires a pressure test before they turn gas service own.
    Using soap bubbles or even a sniffer you may not be able find and test every connection.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Underground Service Settling.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    Had one last weak that the smell was so strong I did not even get near it with my sensitive gas detector. I have never used soap.
    Mercaptan added to natural gas is so strong and pungent a smell it is pretty easy to determine a leak, where the leak is, takes the proper use of the gas detection device.
    As you can see clearly it does not matter what shape it is in all of them should be checked thoroughly.
    Sounds like that one had a leaking or ruptured diaphragm in the regulator.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Underground Service Settling.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    Look close at the picture Jerry and you will see what some others don't care to miss.
    Totally useless response ...

    Are you referring to the high pressure tap off before the regulator ...

    Or the white thing into the regulator vent ...

    Kevin, instead of your guessing games, which may be your way of saying that you think you know something you don't and therefore you don't want to expose your ignorance, you really need to "man up" and say what you see and what you believe ... if you are wrong, you learn something, if you are right, we may learn something ... but your guessing games just keep making you look sillier and sillier ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Underground Service Settling.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Totally useless response ...

    Are you referring to the high pressure tap off before the regulator ...

    Or the white thing into the regulator vent ...

    Kevin, instead of your guessing games, which may be your way of saying that you think you know something you don't and therefore you don't want to expose your ignorance, you really need to "man up" and say what you see and what you believe ... if you are wrong, you learn something, if you are right, we may learn something ... but your guessing games just keep making you look sillier and sillier ...
    I agree
    Kevin, if you have something to say, just say it.
    I'm not into "Quizzes" either.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Underground Service Settling.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    I agree
    Kevin, if you have something to say, just say it.
    I'm not into "Quizzes" either.
    Obviously, Kevin does not know what it is and he is also obviously afraid to say what it is in case he is wrong.

    If he knew and was sure he knew, I would show and tell us ... what other conclusion can we come to than he is not sure that he is right.

    (sigh)

    We'll have to avoid Kevin so we don't get sucked into threads like that Internet Troll Jim Abrams did - I do believe that Kevin is working toward being a CIT (Certified Internet Troll) and the only cost involved in becoming a CIT is respect, not money ... one can't buy a CIT certification ... one can only earn the CIT certification, and Kevin is passing the first level CIT test ...

    Guess I'll have to start ignoring Kevin's posts (I don't use the "Ignore" feature, I just use my built in "ignore" feature when needed ... such as now).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Underground Service Settling.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    Good as this only applies to those learning. The picture is exactly what you should do on an inspection and you should circle it.The connection between the main body and the vent is black around the circumference and is leaking. No other connection shows this so precise as evidence.
    Link has been provided to show what happens.
    "The connection between the main body and the vent is black around the circumference and is leaking."

    All these years I have seen many with black (dark) joints and not a single one has leaked - guess all those joints did not realize that they were supposed to be leaking ... guess they never went to school.

    Kevin, did you also notice that the link you posted said to use a TIFF 8800? That picks up all kinds of things ... SOME of which are actually leaks ... I know, I USED to use one.

    If you want to find a leak - use a leak detection liquid which is non-corrosive (many soaps are corrosive, so using a soapy mix may not be a good thing - make sure to THOROUGHLY rinse off any residue after testing with soap, not easy to know if you rinsed off all the residue or not).

    But NOW I KNOW that when I see black (dark) at the joints that it IS a leak (an if the joint is NOT leaking ... do I tell it to go to school so it can learn that it is supposed to be leaking if it is black). Gosh, what school do I send the joint too (and, no, it's not that kind of "joint").

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Underground Service Settling.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    Jerry you even failed to read my post correctly. Go put me on ignore please.
    For those to care to read the document this is in there.
    The black stains at the flare fitting and copper tubing at the left side of the valve (photo at left) were pointed-to by the gas delivery driver as evidence of a history of gas leaks.
    Maybe "a history of gas leaks" was in your mind, but what you actually typed and I read is in bold below.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    Good as this only applies to those learning. The picture is exactly what you should do on an inspection and you should circle it.The connection between the main body and the vent is black around the circumference and is leaking. No other connection shows this so precise as evidence.
    Link has been provided to show what happens.
    "is black" and "is leaking" ... nothing in there about "a history of gas leaks"

    And, from that link you provided (bold is mine) "Some service technicians point to stains on piping as an evidence of a possible chronic leak in the gas line at this point." ... that means that *some service technicians do not point to stains on piping as evidence of a possible chronic leak in the gas line at this point*.

    Now, which "some" is the most, or does the first "some" mean "others" do not, or does the first "some" indicate that a few do and most do not, or ... Kevin, you really are stretching what you are reading.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Underground Service Settling.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    P L E A S E put me on ignore.
    Kevin, I agree with you 100%
    Done

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Underground Service Settling.

    Any idea when that house was last painted and when that electrical service was installed?

    - - - Updated - - -

    And, what did the water connection or any other underground services look like?

    Last edited by tj glenn; 10-23-2014 at 11:05 AM. Reason: Additional question

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