Replacement meter socket only

Jraef

Moderator
Staff member
I don't do a lot of residential work, haven't since the late 70s, but I'm doing a small repair project for my daughter's neighbor. Their lights were flickering a lot, starting about an hour after re-applying power (they had turned off the main out of an abundance of caution). I was just going to look everything over, assuming a bad or corroded connection somewhere, but I found nothing. So I told them to call PG&E to see if it was something on their side. They came out today and pulled the meter, finding that the meter socket was badly burned. The PG&E guy told them that it's too old to find a replacement socket (mid-60s construction) and they would need a whole new box and everything. It's a 100A GE meter/main unit, but unfortunately it's semi-flush, so embedded into the stucco wall. I think I can just swap out the socket itself and not have to rip out the box from the stucco. Has anything changed that much that it would be hard to find just the socket for a 50 year old GE meter/main unit? Can they refuse to reconnect to it if they don't like my work?
 

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
These kind of things often turn into a can of worms. At 50 years old, what does the panel look like? Betting fuses. So I would go at this the right way and take this opportunity to do a new service and upgrade to 200A. They'll thank you for it later.

Assuming you can find the "guts", yes, they can refuse to reconnect it. Around here you will have to pull a permit and have the AHJ inspect first before the POCO will reconnect.

-Hal
 

Hv&Lv

Senior Member
I agree with hbiss on this one...
the guts can be found, the PG&E guy doesn’t know.
its just how far and wide do you want to search.
theres a guy in my town his dad was an EC and had a basement full of brand new old stock. A pack rat of sorts
I have got brand new old 60 amp round bases from his dad before he died and replaced the guts in some myself

the can of worms was opened when PG&E got involved...
your little repair project just grew exponentially I’m afraid
 

ritelec

Senior Member
If the lugs still good whats preventing you from removing alittle wire and reusing that conductor? (or rubber taping and reuse whats there..)(maybe even just tighten the screw?)...you nailed it in your first post.

around here line is customer.
 

Hv&Lv

Senior Member
Well, I couldn't open the meter socket without breaking the seal, that's why I told them to call. Here's the picture they just sent, it looks like it's actually the conductor, not the jaw. Most likely when PG&E put in the new Smart Meter about 3 years ago, they disturbed everything and that connection got loose. Who owns the line side conductors on an underground service? Isn't it the utility up to the meter socket? maybe what he was telling them is that they will not pull new conductors and reconnect to that old meter socket.

It's a 900sq. ft house, a 200A service is overkill IMHO... besides, at 37.5 cents/kWh, using that much power around here sends you into the poor house!

Just depends..
im with ritelec here.
have them kill it, clean the terminations and retape it.
im betting the screw is loose. That would be the root cause anyway.
 

ptonsparky

Senior Member
That lug is shot. You might get it to work for a while with a new set screw, but it’s time. Chances are it will seize up on the way out.
 

kwired

Electron manager
That lug is shot. You might get it to work for a while with a new set screw, but it’s time. Chances are it will seize up on the way out.
Discoloration tells us it has been hot, metal has lost it's temper. You might be able to clean it up and make it work "better" but it will fail again.

Must be copper conductor or else it likely would have destroyed the conductor as well.
 

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Well, I couldn't open the meter socket without breaking the seal, that's why I told them to call. Here's the picture they just sent, it looks like it's actually the conductor, not the jaw. Most likely when PG&E put in the new Smart Meter about 3 years ago, they disturbed everything and that connection got loose. Who owns the line side conductors on an underground service? Isn't it the utility up to the meter socket? maybe what he was telling them is that they will not pull new conductors and reconnect to that old meter socket.

It's a 900sq. ft house, a 200A service is overkill IMHO... besides, at 37.5 cents/kWh, using that much power around here sends you into the poor house!
Around here I can cut the seal and pull the meter if I suspect a problem. The seal is a joke anyway, with a smart meter they will know when you pulled it and plugged it back in.

You are going to have to remove the cover so you can get a good look and work on it. Maybe you are right. It doesn't look all that bad in there. But the thing that disturbs me is that the jaw is twisted to the right meaning that the bakelite may be burned.

And by the way, if you have a 200A service obviously you aren't going to use 200 amps. They'll use exactly what the did before. A 200A service isn't that much more than a 100 material wise and nothing more in labor. What it will do for them is increase resale value because it allows A/C, water heaters etc that weren't around in the 60's. I haven't installed a 100A service in 30 years. Most buyers want to see a new 200A service today.

-Hal
 
Last edited:

GerryB

Senior Member
That meter socket doesn't look bad at all compared to what I've seen up here in the Northeast. Must be the weather. I've had them so corroded and rusted you couldn't attempt to turn the set screw without spraying it 20 times with W-D.
(I didn't see anything burnt unless they meant the stabs on the meter?)
Your problem is I would think if they are nervous and turning the power off they wan't it done right away. I would definitely try turning that set screw if you haven't already. If it is loose you will buy them a lot of time.
 

Jraef

Moderator
Staff member
All the major appliances are gas though. The only large electric load is the A/C.

Thanks for the help guys. They need it done tomorrow morning and I have a regular job, so I'm backing away and letting a pro do it. I told them to let him find them a meter. They had the guy call me and he agrees that the PG&E guy is full of it. He is just going to buy a new plain 4 jaw socket in a box, pull it out and mount it in the existing can.

Now I think I'm going to hire him to come and fix all the stupid little things at my house that I never get around to...:p
 

growler

Senior Member
They had the guy call me and he agrees that the PG&E guy is full of it. He is just going to buy a new plain 4 jaw socket in a box, pull it out and mount it in the existing can.
Be interesting to see how this turns out.

I'm not all that familiar with GE meter sockets because that's not commonly used here but I have had to rebuild other brands and they have changed a lot over that time frame. I keep parts from good meter sockets when doing service upgrades from 100 to 200 amp for just such jobs as this. You can often rebuild a meter socket if you have the parts but I don't know of any place to buy part for a 55 years old meter socket.

When he tries to mount new guts in there I doubt if the mounting holes will line up so he would be forced to use self tapping screws and if an inspector see those he may not approve. I have seen it done but I didn't like it. My problem with it is that self tapping screws in an aluminum box doesn't hold very good ( most of those old boxes were AL).
 

kwired

Electron manager
Around here I can cut the seal and pull the meter if I suspect a problem. The seal is a joke anyway, with a smart meter they will know when you pulled it and plugged it back in.



-Hal
That depends on how they set their system up.

Outside of intended data transfer communication activities I believe most those systems will "ping" all the meters in the system periodically as as self test of the system communications. Can be very effective at troubleshooting as you can tell quickly that if a large area failed the test, you already have taken a big step in isolating where the problem may be.

Some may only be set up to perform that ping once, twice maybe four times a day, or maybe every hour, and a manual ping can be done when there is troubleshooting activity going on.

If you pull meter and reinstall it between those tests they will never know it was removed. One failed test may not always result in dispatching technician either, multiple failed tests likely do though.
 

Hv&Lv

Senior Member
If you pull meter and reinstall it between those tests they will never know it was removed. One failed test may not always result in dispatching technician either, multiple failed tests likely do though.
Yes, we will know it was removed. It’s checked on blink counts that we do everyday
We read ours four times a day for voltages and blink counts.
we don’t intentionally look for pulled meters, but if I get a report that had a group of meters on the same line with no blinks except one, chances are something is going on.
usually someone has called or do call to say what they have done, and we go reseal the meter. No problem.

the flag is when it fails reads and has more blinks than “usual”.
here someone may be pulling the meter and bridging for short periods. Found that before...
 

norcal

Senior Member
Since PG&E had Smart Meters installed, only pulled one once to replace a damaged panel on a Sunday afternoon, & resealed it as the seals they use are easy to pull apart & reinstall, and did a disconnect of the overhead drop but was no need break the meter seal to swap out the roof jack because of reroofing, in both cases PG&E never came around.
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
We're specifically not allowed to replace meter parts because they're not listed to be field replaced, according to the AHJ. The POCO won't re-energize without an inspection, and I'm not about to swap a meter can or internal part hot. :happysad:
 

kwired

Electron manager
We're specifically not allowed to replace meter parts because they're not listed to be field replaced, according to the AHJ. The POCO won't re-energize without an inspection, and I'm not about to swap a meter can or internal part hot. :happysad:
Are meter sockets even required to be listed? I know there are some that are not listed, rural POCO's use them all the time around here, but they are combination type units with meter and disconnect and no overcurrent device.
 

Knuckle Dragger

Master Electrician Electrical Contractor 01752
We're specifically not allowed to replace meter parts because they're not listed to be field replaced, according to the AHJ. The POCO won't re-energize without an inspection, and I'm not about to swap a meter can or internal part hot. :happysad:
We are expected to disconnect and reconnect the overhead electrical service hot at the point of attachment at the residence.
 

Hv&Lv

Senior Member
We are expected to disconnect and reconnect the overhead electrical service hot at the point of attachment at the residence.
I’m surprised at the differences In procedure around the country..

we have some electricians that will do that, others that won’t. We will happily disconnect for work. We will even reconnect immediately as long as there is an inspection within a reasonable time and everything looks good. The inspectors will call us to tell us it’s all good...

now, we don’t do that for service changes or panel replacements... that requires an inspection before reconnection.

mostly for simple repairs like we were discussing here.
 

Knuckle Dragger

Master Electrician Electrical Contractor 01752
I’m surprised at the differences In procedure around the country..

we have some electricians that will do that, others that won’t. We will happily disconnect for work. We will even reconnect immediately as long as there is an inspection within a reasonable time and everything looks good. The inspectors will call us to tell us it’s all good...

now, we don’t do that for service changes or panel replacements... that requires an inspection before reconnection.

mostly for simple repairs like we were discussing here.
It is interesting and frustrating when you are used to doing it one way and find out that you can't in another jurisdiction. The major POCO's want us to register and get a UA # from them, with an description of what we doing at the residence or building.The local inspector will not inspect without that UA#.
There are some local (town run) municipalities that are won't allow us to disconnect or reconnect, but those are the exception.
I was trained to be expected work on almost anything live. That was the late 70's early 80's. I have no idea how many service upgrades we did without permits ( that change in the 80's though) Don't get me wrong the company did excellent work and we highly critical of each others work to bring out the best product.
 
Top