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Thread: Is it a "vault" that I am looking for?

  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    Default Is it a "vault" that I am looking for?

    Got called because a gardener got shocked by some wires in among some plants.

    Turns out: 50 year old galvanized comes up, next to it another goes down toward switches controlling pool lights and other wires for a pool pump.

    A weather proof box had been erroneously installed below grade. It long ago rotted away and was torn off the conduit.

    There are three or four wires that pass from one conduit to the next with almost no slack. So I cannot replace the box.

    I am inclined to find a fiberglass vault to envelop the conduits, say 12" deep, with an open bottom and a lid that says "electricity!" on it and some bolts to make it tough for kids to open it.

    I'd install it such that it stood about two inches above grade. I'd pour three or four inches of gravel in the bottom of the pit.

    I simply cannot believe that I can pull the wires out of the conduit, I am sure it is beat. I am looking for a solution to make the wires safe and keep them dry.

    Is it a "vault" that I am looking for? Anybody got a url where I can view one?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    Nobody? No suggestions?

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    DIY Senior Member Smooky's Avatar
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    I often see junction boxes at pools that are 12 inches above grade. A vault is something you would put water pipes such as a pressure manifold in, not electrical connections at a pool. For liability reasons, in this case I would hire a licensed electrician.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    You want to do this on your home, or someone elses? Neither is a good idea, and the later could get you sued should something happen, and would not pass code, as I understand it. You cannot use things in an electrical circuit that have not been tested and certified for their operation. Then, you have to install it according to accepted methods and procedures.
    Jim DeBruycker
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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    An "open bottom" vault with gravel in it will NOT keep the wires dry. And have you addressed WHY and how the person got the shock?
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    I would start by getting the correct ground fault interrupt.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

    Cyber Security Protection for Windows C:\ > WWW.WinForce.Net

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    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    An "open bottom" vault with gravel in it will NOT keep the wires dry. And have you addressed WHY and how the person got the shock?
    There is a wire that has lost all it's insulation and is just sticking out.

    It serves nothing but to shock people, and has been disconnected at the panel.

    The rest of the problem is the rest of the problem, if you see what I mean.

  8. #8
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smooky View Post
    I often see junction boxes at pools that are 12 inches above grade. A vault is something you would put water pipes such as a pressure manifold in, not electrical connections at a pool. For liability reasons, in this case I would hire a licensed electrician.
    The fact remains that the whole installation dates back to 1970, and there is about $25k worth of concrete and retaining wall between the fault and the panel.

    The customer wants to pay $500 or $1000 and get something that is safe.

    Please look back at my description and see the issues at hand: there is not one chance in hell that I can pull fresh wire thru this rotted conduit.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    It's time to pass on this job! One that cannot be completed in a safe, code-compliant manner should be one you are willing to pass up. It's likely they would not like an overhead run, but that could be done without disrupting much if any of the landscaping (other than the visual effects!). If the wires and conduit are that degraded, it needs to be replaced. I do not know, but it may be possible companies that can run a cable through the conduit, then pull a new piece of pipe in (as is sometimes done for water pipe replacement), might be able to pull a new piece through. THat would require being able to pull the electrical wires out, as you'd never (as you already said) pull new wires through it.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  10. #10
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; it may be possible companies that can run a cable through the conduit, then pull a new piece of pipe in (as is sometimes done for water pipe replacement), might be able to pull a new piece through. THat would require being able to pull the electrical wires out

    It would be the miracle of the century if that could be done in any code approved manner, or materials.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  11. #11
    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    quote; it may be possible companies that can run a cable through the conduit, then pull a new piece of pipe in (as is sometimes done for water pipe replacement), might be able to pull a new piece through. THat would require being able to pull the electrical wires out

    It would be the miracle of the century if that could be done in any code approved manner, or materials.
    I absolutely agree, there is no technology that is going to router thru rusted 3/4" galvanized in anything like the path that it currently takes, and create a path in any way useful.

    This is why I really prefer plastic to galvanized.

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    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    OK, here's the thing:

    Underground services to houses can come up in vaults. These vaults are pretty big and a bit expensive.

    I worked on a repanel that was exactly that: the utility's line only came just so far, and they insisted that we trench out about 30' to their feed.

    The two conduits curved up and ended in the vault. The cables were spliced and insulated by the utility. The power was switched on.

    That was for a 200 amp panel. I need something to stand in for a rotted 4x4 exterior box that got buried in the flower garden.

    I am going to get this done. I just want to get a box that is small enough to do the work.

    Oh, and the conduit end only about 2" below grade. If the vault is 12" deep, the wires will stay dry.

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    DIY Member ImOld's Avatar
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    The term you are looking for in residential is handhole or Quazite box, rather than vault.

    I'm sorry to say but your plan, as presented, would scare the life out of an electrician due to the total disregard for the NEC.

    Wires in any exterior conduit get wet, if for no other reason than condensation, therefore requiring THWN or other wet rated wire.

    Where are jwelectric or Speedy Petey who I know are licensed and working electricians?

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Depending on the inspector, modifying this requires bringing things up to current code...probably can't do that without new wires and conduit.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Senior Member Homeownerinburb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ImOld View Post
    The term you are looking for in residential is handhole or Quazite box, rather than vault.

    I'm sorry to say but your plan, as presented, would scare the life out of an electrician due to the total disregard for the NEC.

    Wires in any exterior conduit get wet, if for no other reason than condensation, therefore requiring THWN or other wet rated wire.

    Where are jwelectric or Speedy Petey who I know are licensed and working electricians?
    The wires are getting wet any way you figure it. The conduit is rusting away underground. The wires are almost certainly living in dirt, not in a valid conduit. Whatever wire is in there is in there. Again, I am certain that it would be impossible to pull fresh conductors in there.

    I suppose I should install GFI breakers in the panel.

    Problem is: the electrician who put in the 200 amp 20 space, 40 circuit panel managed to find 40 circuits or close to it (if you count the 240v branch circuits as two circuits, there are 40 circuits). In other words, there are 20 tandem circuit breakers in there. There simply is no room for any full width breakers.

    Possibly I could look very closely at the circuits, (of course the markings are faded out) and join some circuits that are over serviced to free up some slots.

    Essentially, the option is to jack up all sorts of concrete and maybe tear out a retaining wall. I grant you that even if my solution is installed, the circuits are going to fail eventually when something underground breaks the conductors, or the insulation just rots away.

    At that time the customer is just going to have to bite the bullet and let the concrete get jacked out and some PLASTIC conduit installed.
    Last edited by Homeownerinburb; 07-15-2013 at 09:49 PM.

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