An older home has a strung electrical main. The main connects with exposed lugs on the roof above the deck. Not only is the height and location unsafe, while working on the roof today I noticed that the insulation on the main electrical lines is deteriorated. This is before the meter and my main breaker.

Here you can see the exposed main lugs. This is about 8.5' from the deck surface. Somebody carrying a tall object such as a pole or a ladder or a piece of pipe could easily hit these.

exposed main lugs

I am in the process of re-locating the main for the home to a different, safer location. At that time I will need the power company to handle and relocate this main line. However, I am quite concerned above the safety of this line as-is. You can clearly see the deteriorated insulation in one of the legs of the wire. The neutral is completely exposed and the red conductor is significantly worn.

deteriorated insulation

Is there anything I can do to address this until the utility company can relocate the line? I was considering a spray-on electrical insulator. I am not properly equipped to actually be in contact with this wire to apply tapes or paint-on insulation.

  • 15
    Don't touch it. Slowly walk away and call an Electrician, or the local power company. You do not want to mess with this. Remember, there is no overcurrent protection on these lines, if you touch them you will be shocked until the transformer blows or the line burns.
    – Tester101
    Sep 6, 2012 at 1:46
  • 4
    +1 for the don't touch warning. I would add don't go near it. Don't try to do anything to it. Typically the power company is resonsible for this part of the service. Call them explain the situation they will most likely send someone out quickly.
    – mikes
    Sep 6, 2012 at 1:54
  • 2
    @MatthewPK The contractor should always be the one to pull the permit. If they won't it's a major warning sign that you should not be using them (eg, maybe they have no license/insurance so can't get a permit themselves). Ref articles.chicagotribune.com/2009-10-23/entertainment/…
    – gregmac
    Sep 6, 2012 at 18:09
  • 1
    @gregmac you're right usually. In this case the contractor is my dad ;-)
    – Matthew
    Sep 6, 2012 at 18:10
  • 2
    If your dad is a licensed electrical contractor, shouldn't he already know the answer to this? Sep 9, 2013 at 19:59

1 Answer 1


No. There is nothing you can, or should do to fix this.

Don't touch it, don't go near it, don't even look at it anymore. Get off the roof, and call the local power company or an Electrician.

Service entrance cables do not have overcurrent protection and will shock you until the transformer blows, the wire burns and breaks, or contact with the line has been broken. All of which will likely happen long after you are dead.

  • 9
    In this case, maximum safety is to do nothing. My lineman grandfather would tell you to run in the opposite direction, find a phone and give his boss a call. Sep 6, 2012 at 2:32
  • 3
    The most likely danger is that a wire will short, it will scare you, and you'll fall off the roof.
    – dbracey
    Sep 6, 2012 at 3:10
  • 5
    WHAT TESTER SAID! DO NOT TOUCH!! Sep 6, 2012 at 12:15
  • Hey, I'm dropping by PK's house later. Do you guys think it's OK to touch those lines?
    – dbracey
    Sep 6, 2012 at 15:40

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