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City Gal Gone Country

The trials and tribulations of going electric

Posted Friday, November 5, 2010, at 11:26 AM
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  • This may be helpful (at least that's the intent) but your post leaves out some details that should be worked out with the co-op's Engineering Dept.

    Ascertain what size pipe diameter they want (probably 3") be sure to ask about "schedule" that means in English, the thickness of the pipe walls, probably schedule 40 but ensure you check with the Engineers. The color must be gray - PVC is probably alright (white PVC is for plumbing).

    Ask for a precise location for the pad and dimensions.

    Measure precisely the length from where the co-op plans to source the power and when you make the pipe purchase be sure to specify to whomever you buy the pipe from, you'll be wanting four (4) 3" "sweeps." (What a sweep is, is a wide radius 90 - also PVC of the proper schedule) If the source power is an existing pole, you job will be easier.

    You'll need (preferably) a six pound hammer, a short piece of 2X4 lumber, "Probably" two cans of PVC cement, a full roll of duct tape, and (to ensure the ends of the sweeps remain precisely vertical) at least 8, 4' pieces of at least 5/16" rebar - and of course the proper amount of pipe to extend the length of your trench, 20' lengths (purchase 1 extra piece of pipe) individually, a roll of tie-wire. [you'll find it easier to ask the electrical supply place for a set of "linesmen's pliers" I prefer Kleins - but I hear Craftsman makes a good tool) and a hacksaw. Rags. 3, 3" PVC couplings (at minimum) a a "torpedo level" and a pencil.

    Place the pieces of pipe ("female ends" uphill) at the edge of your trench - this is simply a "back-saving method" not a necessity, but if your trench is wet at the bottom you can send my Christmas Card to Salem, 'General Delivery'.

    With your first piece of pipe extending about 4' or so past the source pole, begin your first run of pipe (which as I understand it, is downhill from the proposed pad) have your "hammer and 2X4 equipped person" standing on the uphill end and begin assembling your pipe - ensuring to use a rag to thoroughly clean debris/mud/cow-poop etc from the inside of the "female end" similarly clean the "male end."

    Thoroughly apply cement to the outside of the male end, inside of the female, then slip what should be the obvious end fully into the other with a twisting motion and hold for a period of oh, at least 10 seconds. For the first three or so pieces of pipe, this should be easily done without resorting to hammer and 2X4.

    It will be readily apparent as your "pipe-team" works it's way uphill assembling pieces when the point at which the male end seems reluctant to fully engage the female - at which point the "hammer and 2X4 person" needs to be stationed, equipment near at hand.

    At that point - one person at the previously joined end, the "hammer person" at the other - place the 2X4 so that it completely as it can, protects the edges of the upper end, then using the hammer, tap the 2X4 only until the person at the joined length "knows" the hammered pipe is properly fitted.

    Proceed joining pipe toward the location of the previously dug - but as yet unconcreted pad area (more properly, the "vault pit") where the duct tape should be waiting nearby).

    *Tip - when the co-op Engineer points out where the vault-pit should be - ask him (or her) where the two sweeps would be optimally located. Have two of the pieces of re-bar handy and while it wouldn't hurt to ask, "Please Sir/Ma'am, would you mind hammering the rebar into the ground in the proper places?" (Sometimes a polite request for a bit of manual labor works - but it can't be counted on - therefore, while the Engineer is pointing at the location, be ready with the hammer). But ensure the re-bar is planted in the Engineer's presence. Preferably obtaining a signature attesting to the fact the re-bar was planted while he/she was there. Also plant re-bar at the meter (load) location.

    When your source pipe run extends "about" 4' past the line (downhill re-bar) - and it's a good idea to ensure the downhill terminus remains extended past the source pole, then thoroughly duct-tape with several strips, covering completely the end of the pipe-run, for good measure, run an uninterrupted strip completely around the ends of the tape you've placed over the open end. Then go back to the source end and repeat the taping process. Kick the completed pipe-run into the ditch, making every effort to ensure the run is as straight as it can be.

    Repeat process until the load end (meter location) pipe-run is complete.

    One sweep at both the source and meter ends - two sweeps at the vault pit location.

    Here is where you will have to physically descend into the ditch (hopefully for the first time). Personal preference only, but I used to begin at the vault location.

    Prior to untaping the line-side pipe, align the sweep so that it abuts the the previously planted re-bar and using the torpedo level to ensure verticalness, align the sweep with the pipe-run and the re-bar accordingly - make a distinct pencil mark.

    Then with the hacksaw, cut the pipe and join both it and the sweep. Immediately tie-wire the vertical end of the sweep to the re-bar, check vertical with the torpedo level and when satisfied, pound another piece of re-bar into the ground opposite the original re-bar. Tie-wire again.

    *Tip. If there are (which I suspect there will be) some rocks handily nearby, you might place several at the bottom of the trench alongside the pipe.

    Then, using the cut end of the pipe, glue it into the sky-pointing end of the sweep so as to ensure the pipe remains extended a minimum of twelve inches above the surface level of the soon to be poured vault slab. (If you had to remove some of the tape to ensure a tight fit - repeat taping process).

    Repeat process for the load side (meter-location pipe).

    Next (and again depending on preference) repeat the steps for placing the sweeps at each of the remaining locations.

    Except for the proposed vault location - backfill ditch, then (again depending on preference) either prepare concrete in a wheelbarrow or call the Ready-Mix provider, and pour the slab according to the co-op Engineer's instructions.

    Since the only thing I know about concrete is that the Romans invented it, I'm not prepared to advise how long is must "cure" before the co-op will pull the conductors.

    Hope this helps.

    -- Posted by HDucker on Sat, Nov 6, 2010, at 3:27 AM
  • Something I forgot to place at the beginning:

    Though you only write the living structure is "quite a bit larger than 500'" you would probably be well served to do a load calculation.

    I take it to be a single electric supply meter? And just guessing here, but I suspect there may be plans for a future out-building shop type structure. The well will be at an elevation of 600' above mean elevation or above sea level? Appliances to be Energy-Star? But, and just guessing, your electronics load (computers etc) to be around 20 amps. Hot tub? Greenhouse? Being atop a mountaintop, a storm shelter - but then you've got a generator. And you know how to do without.

    I sure as heck hesitate (since there's a Marine at the ready) but I suggest planning on a supply of no less, than 250 amps. Probably closer to 300 peak demand. (My reasoning is because of the Co-op's requirement for a transformer pad). Well that and something left unsaid.

    Anyway, welcome to the neighborhood.

    -- Posted by HDucker on Sat, Nov 6, 2010, at 7:50 AM
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