Is My Overhead Service Upgrade Legal? 

 June 10, 2022

By  Rob Swyrd

I guess it has something to do with the way I was brought up, but I cannot stand seeing people ripped off by contractors doing things that are unsafe and may jeopardize the lives of innocent people. Rules and regulations imposed by local, provincial and federal jurisdictions regarding electricity are in place to ensure installations are safe. Lately, I have come across a few overhead service installations that have been done illegally and unsafely.

Here is an example of what was done in one situation. The pictures that were sent to me, indicated that the installation was not done with a permit because of the infractions that were very obvious.

The proper procedure for service upgrades is that once the quote is accepted, we apply for an electrical permit with the city of Edmonton. With today’s high demands on electricity, people today are upgrading to 200 amp incoming power instead of the normal 100 amps. New demands like car chargers and hot tubs are what’s driving the increased need.

Here is where we have a small speed bump. If you, the client needs a 200 amp overhead service upgrade, I the contractor, am required to contact Epcor engineering and ask for permission. The engineers then investigate the overhead system in the area to determine if the existing infrastructure can handle the additional demand. As a huge amount of infill houses are being built, it puts additional strain on the Epcor distribution system because almost everyone is going to 200 amp. If you need 200 amp for your upgrade and it is found that the local transformers are “saturated”, then Epcor issues you a quotation, typical $10,000.00. This means that if you want the free upgraded Epcor power to 200 amp, Epcor must upgrade the transformer in the alley to carry the extra load.

Once the permit has been issued, Epcor must be scheduled to shut down the power in order to upgrade the outside electrical equipment and panel. Once the new equipment has been put in, a city inspector comes out to determine if the installation meets the safety requirements. If so, he puts a sticker on the meter box and calls Epcor to come back and re-energize the overhead service.

Three things are wrong in this picture. First, the fact that the conduit on the wall is not high enough to provide a safe clearance over the backyard, it needs to be 3500mm minimum. Second, the anchor point of the wires coming in from the alley must be below the top of the conduit coming up from the meter. And finally the most obvious, there is black tape wrapped around the splice points above the eavestrough. When Epcor re-attaches the service after an upgrade, they use a compression style of splice, they would never do this.

Robart Electrical Services (in a 24-month period) did over 250 service upgrades. We are Edmonton’s top producers and someone you can trust.

Rob Swyrd

Master Electrician

Rob Swyrd

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