How Do Service Masts Get Damaged?

The weatherhead of a service mast

Service masts are usually damaged during storms. Storms can rip out the connection at the service point, disconnect the service entrance conductors from the service panel, or simply fry and mangle the wires at any point along the system. Generally, you’ll have to replace service mast components that storms damage.

Figuring out which parts of your service mast you’re responsible for repairing can be tricky. You aren’t responsible for repairing damaged service drops or electrical meters, for instance, but your are responsible for the weather head, service entrance conductors, and meter socket. Figuring out what kind of damage you have will help you identify your next steps accurately. Here’s what probably damaged your service mast during the last storm:

Fallen trees or branches

Tree fallen against home

This is probably the most common way storms damage service masts. During a heavy rain or storm, tree branches above or near service drop lines fall onto the lines. The weight and pressure of the branch pulls the service drop lines down and rips their connection out of the service point within the weatherhead in the process. When your service entrance conductors aren’t connected to service drops, they can’t transfer power to your meter and system.

As you know, you aren’t responsible for the service drops themselves. If the service drops near your home break, call your energy provider right away! You are responsible for the weatherhead, service connection, and service entrance conductors however–all of which attach to the service drops. When tree branches collide with service drops, they will likely rip something out or cause damage to parts you are responsible for. To avoid this potential damage, trim tree branches away from your service drops. Be very careful to stay well clear of the service drops themselves while you’re trimming.

Debris collision

Hail falling on a home's roof

Unfortunately, tree branches aren’t the debris that can damage your service mast. Your connected service drop lines aren’t the only vulnerable section of your exterior system, either. Debris damage damages service masts and their electrical equipment quite frequently. Garbage, hail, logs, and other projectiles could smack into your service mast, denting, bending, or breaking it. The weatherhead, “drip loop,” and upper body of the mast are all particularly vulnerable to debris damage.

The weatherhead guards the area where the service entrance conductors turn downward toward the meter. This component protects vulnerable wiring from rain. The drip loop is the section of wiring that coils just before entering the weatherhead. Drip loops also exist to keep rain out. If debris damages either of these components, rain water could damage the mast’s internal wiring or points of connection. You are responsible for repairing a damaged weatherhead or drip loop, but you should never attempt to do so yourself.

Wind damage

Power line bent by heavy winds after a storm

Any exterior component of your home is vulnerable to heavy winds, especially as it ages. Your service mast, meter, and other exterior electrical equipment are not exceptions. In particular, your service mast may be vulnerable to wind damage if you use guy wires to hold it up. If wind tears the guy wires holding up the service mast, the mast could bend or buckle under its own weight and positioning. When this happens, the internal wiring or connections could break.

Wind damage could affect any section of your mast or meter. This is particularly likely in older homes, where the mast may begin to rust or otherwise age. Wind damage to the body of the mast (or “riser cable”) won’t always damage internal components, but it’s important to address anyway. If your weatherhead, riser cable, or meter box looks dented, bent, or otherwise damaged, it’s important to repair it.

Power surges

Damaged power meter

As we’ve discussed before, there are multiple kinds of power surges. The kinds of power surges that could affect your service mast are exterior surges–which are the big ones. Power surges large enough to harm your mast generally happen–you guessed it–during storms. If lightning strikes a power line or pole, the excess voltage it introduces to the system could travel through the lines all the way to your service drops and service connection.

A big enough surge can completely fry your conductors, burn out the connections between them, or even start fires. If your power goes out during a storm and doesn’t turn back on when your neighbor’s begins to, then it’s possible your service mast was damaged by a surge. We recommend calling your energy provider to confirm that your power should be back on, then giving us a call to repair your mast.

No matter what your service mast was damaged by or what the nature of the damage is, we can’t stress enough that you should not attempt to repair your mast yourself. No matter how safe it seems, you should always assume your service mast is charged with voltage. Don’t touch it, and definitely don’t try to disconnect the wiring!

Instead, get in touch with EarlyBird whenever you think something may be wrong with your service mast. Our certified technical experts have the experience and knowhow they need to safely and efficiently fix whatever the problem could be. You don’t even need to know if you’re responsible for the problem or not. We’ll make sure it’s taken care of either way.

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