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Painting Top of House near Electric Wires

Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:25 am
by leowis1
Hello All,

I'm having the top of my very old house painted by a painter, whom by his language I'm guessing does not have liability insurance. You know what I'm talking about! The guy is doing a great job. He's way up there on a 32' ladder scraping, sanding, caulking, and painting. Better him them me.

He will soon meet the electric wires that come into my house from the pole. Scary stuff. Especially with an aluminum ladder. I called the electric company and their going to put rubber sleeves around the wires, but that'll take a few weeks. I'm going to tell me painter to just stay away from that thing. I'll have to paint it....gulp! My question is this, once the rubber sleeves are in place, is it safe to go near this thing? Or should I just get spray paint and stay as far away as possible? The wires come in where there's dental molding, and I'm having each block painted differently. So a spray paint job will look awful, but that's a price I'm willing to accept to be safe.

Let me know what you think. Thanks!


Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:42 am
by Bryan
I have never done what you are looking at, but as an engineer, I'll tell you that you don't have to actually touch a wire to be shocked. Depending on the difference in voltage, electricity can arc through the air. If you are using a metal ladder and it is a humid day outside, that distance would grow. I have seen 440 volts arc over a foot! Please be careful, can the power company turn off the power for a few hours? I guess that depends on where the junctions are and who it would affect. Maybe someone here has some practical experience with this.

Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:46 am
by lrkrgrrl
Yikes. Bryan is right: you should only use fiberglass ladders for working around electrics. It's much, much safer. If you don't have one, rent one.

Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 12:27 pm
by Abuela
I'm getting my current house painted around the wires, and I've already decided that I'm just going to have the power turned off on that day.

Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 2:04 pm
by leowis1
I called the electric company about this matter. They said that they would put rubber sleeves around the wires. I requested that the electric be turned off. I don't want to learn the hard way the do's and don'ts of these things. They said that they will not turn the power off to a house, instead they'll "relocate" the gizmo somewhere else (around a chimney). I said fine! Just get it away from me. This will take a few weeks before they come out. I'll just have to paint that little section when that time comes.

Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 3:02 pm
by Jack Willard
Having taken a course last year on the dangers of both high and low voltage, I can tell you that I certainly learned that I am NOT WILLING to take the chance! I saw the video of the guy on an aluminum ladder getting roasted doing exactly what you are talking about! TURN THE POWER OFF!. :!:

Spray paint is a REALLY bad idea. High voltage will arc across spray paint just as if it were a wire if offers a path to ground. :twisted:

After I took that course, I started thinking REAL hard about the power feed to the house. I went out to look and be sure. The power is fed through underground conduit up to the electric service panel box. Great! I'm safe! :D

Reading the safety manual on my 50' boom lift made it real clear too. Do NOT get any closer than ten feet from any power lines!

I now think way different about electric service panel boxes too. That course was enough to scare the crap out of anybody! :twisted:

Be way careful. :!:

Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 3:16 pm
by jtjgvle
50' boom lift!!! I am jealous! If I had one of those my house would be painted, and the limb that has gently come to rest on the peak of my very steep roof would be off!!!

Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 3:32 pm
by leowis1
I saw the video of the guy on an aluminum ladder getting roasted doing exactly what you are talking about!
HOLY ****!!!!

I'm not going near it. I'll tell my guy to stop when he gets to within 10 feet. If I have to get up there in the near distant future AFTER the power company "relocates" the wires, painting an extra 5 feet is a no brainer. I will stay away from it. Promise!

Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 7:38 pm
by dennis
I'm not sure if I should feel really brave and adventurous, or really stupid.

I work around those lines all the time, with an aluminum ladder. :(

painting near wires

Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2006 10:31 pm
by kec01
Your local electric company should wrap the wires with rubber sleeve type things at no cost to you. They should put a line of them in place that more than covers the length that your painter will be working near. And, if the wires still are really near your house, the utility can also put an L shaped wood thingie in place that will push/pull the wrapped wires away from the house. I wouldn't let the painter get near that area until this is done. Our old house's chimney was about 10" away from the wires. We needed tuckpointing done and Xcel Energy in St. Paul did this easily and with short notice.