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Insurance/Warranty question : Newly purchased house - meter housing needs replacement

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rated:
Seems drama never ends with a newly purchased (constructed in 1978) house.

Part of my house lost power the other day. A lot of digging later, I've pinpointed the issue to one of the four jaws holding the meter being loose - thanks to the utility lineman who came to investigate, for pointing out the loose jaw discolored from sparking.

Long story short, I need to replace the meter housing. I don't like sparks in my electrical system. Cost (disconnect/reconnect, permit, parts, labor etc etc etc) is $1000+. While at it, if I replace the entire panel and upgrade service also, then cost is $2000+.

Questions:
1. Are these types of issues typically covered by homeowners insurance?
2. Any suggestions for home warranty, or insurance rider(s) like this for the first 2/3 years of ownership that can help me save money on issues and surprises like this?

<Edited to add>Clarification. The house is newly purchased, but not new. It was constructed in 1978 </Edited to add>

Member Summary
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Statute of limitations

ellory (Jun. 16, 2017 @ 8:08a) |

I was waitin for that. What took ya so long?

atikovi (Jun. 16, 2017 @ 8:21a) |

Depends on the state. I think you're clear though, most homes are sold as-is.

henry33 (Jun. 16, 2017 @ 12:32p) |

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rated:
This would be covered by the builder on a new house.

If the house is just new to you, you're screwed.

rated:
1. I doubt it. Even if it was a covered loss, I doubt the cost is greater than your deductible.

2. No. Home warranties aren't with the price.

rated:
Huh - seems my only option is to suck up and pay up!

The main panel was shoddily done. So let me see if it makes sense to re-do even that (at $1000 cost diff) more cleanly this time, and upgrade the service level with more amps.

rated:
Be sure to get a couple of estimates.  Rates on this kind of work can really vary.  Make sure you hire a competent and licensed electrician though.  One recommended and/or referred through your electric utility might make for a faster response through the permitting and inspection process and might not necessarily be more expensive.

rated:
1. This isn't a loss/occurrence that would be covered by HO insurance.
2. Doubt it, and if there is, it would be exorbitant and better to self-insure.

rated:
Homeowners won't repair this... they will pay to replace your house when it burns down as a result.

rated:
Any suggestions on websites/resources where I can "learn" more about practical electrical stuff?

Long time ago - I had taken a few EE courses as part of my engineering coursework - up to 2XX level. So a lot of the "theory" is familiar to me. But often the electricians talk stuff that confuse me more than it make sense, e.g.
1. Electrician: "You have two legs, 120V each. Together that is 240V.". Me: "Huh! The two phases are 120 degrees apart. So power factor will mean it won't exactly add up - but will be quite a bit different. Where is the 240V coming from?". Electrician: "No Idea".
2. Electrician: "Can't do anything about the flicker". Me: "Can't you put a capacitor in the circuit"?

I'm sure the electrician at the other end of the conversation is as, or more frustrated than I am in these exchanges.

Any website/resource that will help me get up to speed with the basics of the hands on stuff?

rated:
puddonhead said:   
1. Electrician: "You have two legs, 120V each. Together that is 240V.". Me: "Huh! The two phases are 120 degrees apart. So power factor will mean it won't exactly add up - but will be quite a bit different. Where is the 240V coming from?". Electrician: "No Idea".


 

  I do believe residential services are 180 degrees out of phase, 120 degrees is for a three phase commercial service.

 

rated:
woowoo2 said:   
puddonhead said:   
1. Electrician: "You have two legs, 120V each. Together that is 240V.". Me: "Huh! The two phases are 120 degrees apart. So power factor will mean it won't exactly add up - but will be quite a bit different. Where is the 240V coming from?". Electrician: "No Idea".


 

  I do believe residential services are 180 degrees out of phase, 120 degrees is for a three phase commercial service.

 


These are exactly the type of details I am hoping to find more about!

They seem so damn difficult and confusing to sort out from all the internet material   

Any suggestion of a good place/website for this? 
 

rated:
Just google house electrical service. What do you want to know?

rated:
woowoo2 said:   1. Electrician: "You have two legs, 120V each. Together that is 240V.". Me: "Huh! The two phases are 120 degrees apart. So power factor will mean it won't exactly add up - but will be quite a bit different. Where is the 240V coming from?". Electrician: "No Idea".

220/221 - Whatever it takes


  

rated:

rated:
If you're thinking about having your service upgraded, have them check the wiring in the house as well - if it's crap, that would be the time to get a re-wire done.  Also, I'd suggest thinking about whether or not you want a backup generator with automatic transfer switch (assuming you plan to stay in the house for a number of years).  I did all of it at the same time, haven't ever regretted the generator -  only my neighbors do, when they see me streaming netflix while they're lighting candles....

rated:
The doityourself forum is fantastic!

Wonder why I never discovered it before..

rated:
puddonhead said:   Any suggestions on websites/resources where I can "learn" more about practical electrical stuff?

Long time ago - I had taken a few EE courses as part of my engineering coursework - up to 2XX level. So a lot of the "theory" is familiar to me. But often the electricians talk stuff that confuse me more than it make sense, e.g.
1. Electrician: "You have two legs, 120V each. Together that is 240V.". Me: "Huh! The two phases are 120 degrees apart. So power factor will mean it won't exactly add up - but will be quite a bit different. Where is the 240V coming from?". Electrician: "No Idea".
2. Electrician: "Can't do anything about the flicker". Me: "Can't you put a capacitor in the circuit"?

I'm sure the electrician at the other end of the conversation is as, or more frustrated than I am in these exchanges.

Any website/resource that will help me get up to speed with the basics of the hands on stuff?

  
man, I'm as theoretical as you can get: a CS major who double-majored in EE so that I could study more information theory. But still, I'm really mad at how badly you understand electricity.

there aren't 'websites' that will bring you 'up to speed'; your knowledge is fundamentally deficient. electricity is not a hobby. please consider this before you wire a circuit that will kill somebody.

rated:
Feedback noted. Any constructive suggestion?

Paying an electrician $100/hour to troubleshoot a dead receptacle seems a complete waste of money to me.

Yes, I have a dead receptacle that I plan to troubleshoot myself. And no - I don't plan to run a new wire without an electrician - too many unknowns about practical stuff.

<rant on> The comment/question about capacitor was made in all seriousness - but I did realize immediately after the absurdity of that "line of thinking" in the context of AC (and not DC). So no - I'm probably not quite as thick as that question may make it appear. But "stupid questions" like this are, I think, par for the course from someone who did some math and read some books a decade+ ago and now trying to decipher real world applications. </rant off>
 

rated:
dcwilbur said:   
woowoo2 said:   1. Electrician: "You have two legs, 120V each. Together that is 240V.". Me: "Huh! The two phases are 120 degrees apart. So power factor will mean it won't exactly add up - but will be quite a bit different. Where is the 240V coming from?". Electrician: "No Idea".

220/221 - Whatever it takes


  

  There's not enough green in the world for you!

rated:
If you are looking for a basic understanding and how-to book, this is very Handy:

https://www.menards.com/main/home-decor/books/house-building-books/step-by-step-guide-book/p-1444444103347-c-6320.htm?tid=1868795119200510266&ipos=2

rated:
puddonhead said:   Feedback noted. Any constructive suggestion?

Paying an electrician $100/hour to troubleshoot a dead receptacle seems a complete waste of money to me.

Yes, I have a dead receptacle that I plan to troubleshoot myself. And no - I don't plan to run a new wire without an electrician - too many unknowns about practical stuff.
 

  
My 1978 house had a bunch of worn out outlets. You push something into them and there's little or no resistance. I replaced a few of them before I moved in, now I wish I'd spent a morning replacing every outlet in the house before I moved in. I'm still coming across outlets that don't feel secure when I plug something in and adding them to my monthly home repair list.
All of them were wired by the original electrician using the 'push to connect' jaws in the back instead of the more reliable screw terminals.

Find an electrical website that shows you how to disconnect the old outlet and install a new one.
Cut the power from your breaker panel, replace the outlet with a new one, and see if that fixed your problem.

rated:
Your chances of electrocuting yourself are surprisingly low. The chance of you setting your house on fire (maybe a decade later) is much more of a concern. Here's the thing with working on electrical components. It's more important than pretty much anything else.

You HAVE to torque all the screws/terminals to the right pressure. Not tightening all the screws right is one of the most common reasons for electrical fires. I once had a conversation with a gentleman who consulted for court cases against electricians being sued after a fire. His first question was always "What brand torque driver set do you use?". "I go by feel" is NOT an acceptable answer.

rated:
There is certainly risk of killing yourself, injuring yourself or burning down your house. 100's of electricians die every year and they know what they're doing. Don't underestimate the risk.

Make sure the circuit is off before you touch it AND use a tester to ensure the circuit is off. Don't assume that because the breaker box says a breaker is for the front room that turning off that breaker will actually turn off the circuit in the front room. Panel boxes are often labeled wrong and/or circuits are changed with stuff added/moved without relabeling.

As long as your'e careful its not hard to do basic stuff and certainly worth learning.

rated:
woowoo2 said:   
puddonhead said:   
1. Electrician: "You have two legs, 120V each. Together that is 240V.". Me: "Huh! The two phases are 120 degrees apart. So power factor will mean it won't exactly add up - but will be quite a bit different. Where is the 240V coming from?". Electrician: "No Idea".


 

  I do believe residential services are 180 degrees out of phase, 120 degrees is for a three phase commercial service.

 

  
Residential is single phase. They don't really get into things like power factor. Basically the two wires coming to the house is 240 plus the ground wire, It's a sine wave, add them both up, you get 240, use one half and you get 120. Commercial is usually more like 2 phase but I suppose if you're big enough, you could get 3 phase. That's why you see 208 volts, that's 2 phase. 

rated:
Ground wire from electric company?  Adding them up because it's a sine wave?  2 phase 208v service? Could get 3 phase? Reading that post hurts my brain.

rated:
Welcome to homeownership, OP. This is why some people choose to rent. If you can't afford a 1-2k repair, I really hope your house doesn't leak during rainy season. That's when my homeownership bills skyrocketed (roof/windows/siding etc..).

I highly recommend this book by Black and Decker:
http://www.blackanddecker.com/en-us/products/power-tools/project...

Look for it online, shouldn't cost more than $20. Gives you a run down on everything you need to know (as a homeowner) about electricity.

rated:
mikk1 said:   If you're thinking about having your service upgraded, have them check the wiring in the house as well - if it's crap, that would be the time to get a re-wire done.  
  op house is 1978, the only possible issue would be aluminum wiring. Even if aluminum wiring, there are special connectors that can be used to avoid a total rewire.
My 1978 house had a bunch of worn out outlets. You push something into them and there's little or no resistance. I replaced a few of them before I moved in, now I wish I'd spent a morning replacing every outlet in the house before I moved in. I'm still coming across outlets that don't feel secure when I plug something in and adding them to my monthly home repair list.
this is the kind of thing you'd need to fix. I wouldn't bother with the wiring inside the walls unless there's evidence of shoddy workmanship on the wires or no permits pulled
While at it, if I replace the entire panel and upgrade service also, then cost is $2000+.
Post a pic of the panel. If it is original, some brands have bad rep and you should replace it

rated:
puddonhead said:   Seems drama never ends with a newly purchased (constructed in 1978) house.

Part of my house lost power the other day. A lot of digging later, I've pinpointed the issue to one of the four jaws holding the meter being loose - thanks to the utility lineman who came to investigate, for pointing out the loose jaw discolored from sparking.

Long story short, I need to replace the meter housing. I don't like sparks in my electrical system. Cost (disconnect/reconnect, permit, parts, labor etc etc etc) is $1000+. While at it, if I replace the entire panel and upgrade service also, then cost is $2000+.

Questions:
1. Are these types of issues typically covered by homeowners insurance?
2. Any suggestions for home warranty, or insurance rider(s) like this for the first 2/3 years of ownership that can help me save money on issues and surprises like this?

<Edited to add>Clarification. The house is newly purchased, but not new. It was constructed in 1978 </Edited to add>

  
Only thing that can come remotely close to insurance:  My local utility company PSE&G has worryFree contract - you pay per item like central air, heater, internal wiring etc. I don't know this is will be covered.   But you can check what is offered by your utility company.   I pay for heating unit/air con/gas fireplace - around $25 or something like that per month.  I find it very good as homeowner who is not too Handy with heater/air con/gas fire place.   Covers labor and most of small parts.    You can check with your local utility company -  could be good peace of mind for air con, heater etc.  Good thing about PSE&G service - I call them, they come within 1 day.   

 

rated:
You also have to check and make sure the line coming from the pole to your house will support a new service. Like someone else said, make sure you find somebody with insurance. Don't be afraid to ask for references as well. I just had my panel replaced/upgraded two years ago and the cost was about $1400. You definitely want the upgrade if you're going to be running power out to a shed or something like that.

My electrical utility sells coverage that covers everything from the weather head down to the meter and it's under $10/month I believe.

rated:
wilesmt said:   The chance of you setting your house on fire (maybe a decade later) is much more of a concern. 
  When I was 14 or 15 I installed three recessed lights in the ceiling of my parents basement rec room. That was back sometime in the 70's. Sold the place in '85. Don't think the house burned down yet, but what is the statue of limitations for stuff like that?

rated:
Statute of limitations

rated:
I was waitin for that. What took ya so long?

rated:
atikovi said:   
wilesmt said:   The chance of you setting your house on fire (maybe a decade later) is much more of a concern. 
  When I was 14 or 15 I installed three recessed lights in the ceiling of my parents basement rec room. That was back sometime in the 70's. Sold the place in '85. Don't think the house burned down yet, but what is the statue of limitations for stuff like that?

  
Depends on the state. I think you're clear though, most homes are sold as-is. 

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