Home>Discussions>ELECTRICAL & LIGHTING>how does water get into a fuse box?
13 posts / 0 new
Last post
how does water get into a fuse box?

Had a home inspection done this week and when inspector removed the "faceplate" of fuse box, there was water sitting in bottom of box. ??? Also some rust on some of the screws. How does water get into a fuse box? He looked outside and wondered if it was traveling down the outside of the wire, into some cracked sealant around meter. Granted we've had many days of rain, but still seems quite a distance to travel. By the looks of rust, this has happened before.

Aside from having a licensed electrician check it out asap, does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions. Most people don't ever "look" behind the faceplate of fuse (circuit) box. Aside from
opening the door and flipping some on or off, if need be, I didn't know that faceplate even came off.

Is this gonna be expensive to "fix" and prevent from happening again? :(

Re: how does water get into a fuse box?

I assume you're talking about your electric panel box, and that it's mounted outdoors.

You can do the following:

1. Completely seal the box. If your power supply runs down from the roof, use outdoor putty to seal around the opening. Also use weatherstrip around the box opening.

2. Build a tiny sheet metal cover on top of the box, to protect from the rain. But build it in such a way that no rain hits the panel box.

Good luck.

Re: how does water get into a fuse box?

Also check where the wires come into the box. Sometimes the water can travel along the bundled wires for quite a distance. The tiny gaps between the wires helps the water travel.

An electrician may not be the best person to help you as this is a water issue and not an electrical problem. As Semi wisely notes below, special skills and tools are required for electrical work. Once the problem is diagnosed, select the appropriate repair person.

Re: how does water get into a fuse box?

Crylakel, do you have SE cable feeding your meter or a conduit with a mast head?

I've seen water travel inside of the cable, into the meter and end up in the service entrance panel.

SE cable (large grey bundle the power company attaches to) should either have a service head fitting or a gooseneck (drip loop) at the end to prevent rainwater from entering the cable.

The end preferebly should be below the power company leads and taped with a self-sealing weather resistant thermoplastic.

If your SE cable needs work you may wish to call an electrician because special insulated gloves, ladder, hardhat etc. are required and the work could be very dangerous.

Good Luck from Wilsonville, Alabama
Maurice Turgeon, http://thesemi-retiredelectrician.com

Re: how does water get into a fuse box?

If your box is indoors, but on an exterior wall, the water could be from condensation. The damp air inside the house hits the cold surface of the back of the panel, condenses, and fills the bottom with water and rusts things out.

If possible, it may be wise to place insulation behind the electrical panel.

I'd think that it would be unlikely at this time of year, unless you live in a particularly cold area of the country.

Re: how does water get into a fuse box?

In my case, the original home builder used the wrong gasket on the meter pan (the box where the electric meter is) and water traveled down the main wire that connects to the utility company's transformer. Once inside the meter pan, the water went along the main wires (inside conduit), through my foundation, and into the main load center (circuit breaker box).

During an inspection prior to adding on to our house, it was raining and when the general contractor opened up the panel water dripped out from in-between some of the circuit breakers.

When I had the load center replaced, the electrician put in the correct seal and used a putty-like compound (I forget the name but read the package and it was rated for this) to build an additional seal over where the wire enters the meter pan.

I had to change my load center because we needed additional capacity, but even if we hadn't needed to for that purpose with the rust inside the load center I probably would have any how.

Re: how does water get into a fuse box?

> I've seen water travel inside of the cable, into the meter and end up in the service entrance panel.

There's a puddle of water inside the service panel and we spotted 3 or 4 drops of water, dangling off some of the wires. We had a lot of rain in the last couple of days (4-5"). The seal @ top of the outdoor electric meter is brittle and pulling away.

Re: how does water get into a fuse box?

If the compression seal above the meter is the source of the water you may be able to use a brick of "duct seal or a tube of silicon calking to plug it, at least until you can plan a better repair.

Again, if there is any sign the SE cable or wiring inside it is brittle don't touch it...call an electrician. There is at least 10,000A of energy in those wires which can create a huge fireball if they touch each other.

Good Luck from Wilsonville, Alabama
Maurice Turgeon, http://thesemi-retiredelectrician.com

Re: how does water get into a fuse box?

Yes, am gonna apply a temporary "patch" to the top of meter since that seal is pretty beat up, & it looks like another week of rain. Got an electrician coming out tomorrow to take a look.

If water is traveling down the wire from the main power line to house, or getting in from the meter, am thinking why wouldn't the electric company be responsible since its their "wiring" & meter?

Re: how does water get into a fuse box?

Regarding your last question:

In my area, the power company owns the meter only. The wires from the street pole to the meter and the wires from the meter to the rest of the house are owned by the homeowner.

Only the power company can connect your wires to the street pole. Any bypassers (squaters) are usually prosecuted and denied service. The rest of the wires are your responsibility.

I was once in Venezuela, and was shocked to see how many squaters steal power from the poles. Was told that it's a widespread problem in S. America.

Re: how does water get into a fuse box?

When the neighbor's tree limb "took out" my power a while back, the electric company "rerouted" the wire from power line to house. This now "steep-er" pitch from main line to house (main line is higher than the house) is one of the "places" the home inspector thought could be the culprit (he thought water could be running down the wire faster, and since the "loop" at end isn't slacked enough, the water is flowing up into the connection @ house (not sure what its called, but there's a lil'metal-like flap covering where wires run along the side of house to the top of the meter box).

Just find it hard to believe that water is coming down from there, through meter, into service box (plus the service box is probably another 6-8' from the meter) and nothin' has shorted out?

Realize water has a sneaky way of creeping into any "weak spot", but the logistics of this seem a lil'much. Hopefully electrician has some luck figuring this out. But still think I'll call electric company about rerouting that wire so there's more of slack in line. Just in case .... what's the worse they can say - "not our problem"?


Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.