This week CWC Electric, LLC performed a residential electrical service call at a home located in Topeka, Kansas, which had suddenly lost half of it's power.
Upon inspection, our service electrician discovered the home's meter can needed to be replaced due to damage and arcing within the meter enclosure. The meter can was approximately 60 years old and beyond it's normal lifespan.
At some point, a bird had gained access to the enclosure and built a nest which later caught fire.
In the picture above, the lug on the far right is discolored due to extreme heat. The lug would have had to be red hot (900 to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit) to cause such extreme discoloration. According to witnesses, the wren family that occupied this nest escaped without injury.
Newer meter cans are more weatherproof. While the meter can is the responsibility of the homeowner, the local utility company has jurisdiction over the can size, style and installation.
Meter can defects may include:
1. Moisture, water or rust inside the meter base;
2. Missing knockouts on the meter base;
3. Broken or cracked conduit at the meter;
4. Loose connections within the meter base, the base pulling away from the building wall or loose mounting screws;
5. Inadequate fastening of the base or mast to the building;
6. Evidence of tampering;
7. Evidence of burning or arcing;
8. Broken meter glass.
The meter was moved to a new location in order to meet current electrical code. The entire job took less than three hours and the power was restored the same day.