One of the projects we decided to tackle this spring in conjunction with painting the exterior of the house was to switch from overhead to underground service for power, phone, and cable.  It’s something we’ve talked about doing pretty much the whole time we’ve lived in the house and we figured it would be good to get the work done in conjunction with painting since we knew the switch over would leave behind plenty of patchy paint and holes to fill.

I feel like I keep sharing the same “before” picture over and over, but here it is again:

Our official "before" picture.

Our official “before” picture.

And here’s one that (kind of) shows the positioning of the telephone pole relative to the house:

The distance from the house to the telephone pole, which is surprisingly difficult to get a good picture of.

This picture is like playing “Where’s waldo?” with a telephone pole – it’s the crooked one with the coil of white wire on it toward the right side of the photo.

We started out with power, phone, and cable coming from the bottom of the ravine, up the hill to a very crooked (and privately owned – ugh) telephone pole and then over to the house.  Power and cable actually attached to the house at the same point (above the power meter) while the phone line ran separately to the corner of the house by the sunroom doors.

The power company pole at the bottom of the ravine.

The power company pole at the bottom of the ravine.

While it would have been great to be able to bury everything all the way down to the power company’s pole at the bottom of the ravine, that would have involved directional boring (rather than trenching) and just didn’t seem worth the effort or money.  Instead, we decided to focus on just the distance from the telephone pole at the top of the ravine to the house.  Initially, we planned to keep the crooked telephone pole, but the more we thought about it (and the more people we talked to), the clearer it became that we should probably replace the telephone pole at the same time.  With the counter weight of the wires heading to the house being removed once we buried them, the electrician and our contact at the power company were concerned the pole would continue to lean toward the ravine and fail sooner rather than later.  So, we decided to just do it all at once.  We signed all of the paperwork with the power company at the end of March and started waiting for our work orders to get to the top of the queue and be processed … which happened a couple of weeks ago.  (Apologies for all of the cell phone, through-a-window pictures!)

Getting ready to dig the hole for the new pole

Getting ready to dig the hole for the new pole

The auger all the way in the ground.

The auger all the way in the ground.

Setting the new pole.

Setting the new pole.

The process started when a pole setting truck from the power company showed up in our driveway with a brand new 30′ telephone pole that was set as close to the old one as possible.  Since the new pole would be supporting the weight of the wires going down to the ravine, but have nothing on the other side to counter-balance it (since we’d be burying everything from the pole to the house), the power company suggested that we install a guy wire to help make the pole more stable.  We were really concerned that the guy wire would take up a ton of space in the yard, making the new pole feel really imposing, so we opted for a “sidewalk guy wire” that goes straight down, parallel to the pole, and anchors to the ground a lot closer to the pole than a traditional one.

The new pole and guy wire.

The new pole and guy wire.

The process of setting the new pole only took a couple of hours and it was pretty interesting to watch.  The truck did all the heavy lifting, from digging the hole for the new pole to lifting and guiding it into position until the “pole foam” was in place to hold it permanently.

Only a couple of days later, the electrician came out to do some pre-work for burying the electrical service.  This included installing the underground meter pedestal outside and doing some other miscellaneous work in the basement (including installing a new outlet for our new tankless water heater so it no longer runs off of an extension cord – woo-hoo!)

The following week, the power company and electrician then came back out to bury the electrical service to the house.  Part of the trench was dug by hand in an attempt to avoid hitting the power lines that run from the house to the garage (which, was unsuccessful, by the way) and the rest was dug with a trencher, which was super efficient, but left quite a mess.

Digging the trench.

Digging the trench.

 The electrician is putting electrical, phone, cable, and conduit in the trench before it is closed up.

The electrician is putting electrical, phone, cable, and conduit in the trench before it is closed up.

With the trench open, the power company laid in the new wires that would provide electricity to the house.  The electrician then threw some dirt on top and added phone, coax, and a conduit that we can use for exterior lighting in the future.  With everything in the trench, they then filled it in, made up the connections for the electrical service on both ends, and took down the old overhead wires.

Again, the whole process was really pretty efficient – it maybe four hours total.

The new electrical meter - now we just have to switch phone and cable over to the newly buried wires.

The new electrical meter – now we just have to switch phone and cable over to the newly buried wires … and clean up the yard.

As soon as the power company left, I made calls to Mediacom and AT&T to schedule appointments for them to switch their service over to the new telephone pole and the underground wire that was laid in the trench by the electrician.  Mediacom actually came out right away – after a really frustrating experience we had with them a few weeks back, we met the local field supervisor who told us to work through him when we were ready to switch to underground service, which we did.  And our experience this time was wonderful.  They sent 3 trucks, came when they said they would, completed the work really quickly, and there were no issues or complications.  Really, it was super – and I’m so glad.  We also made an appointment with AT&T, which wound up being delayed to the next day, but the work was completed last Friday and, with their piece complete, we are now, officially, underground for everything … and I can’t tell you how great that feels.

No more overhead wires!!

No more overhead wires!!

The house is still looking a little rough since so much paint came off with the pressure washing and the painters haven’t started working on the front yet, but I’m already forgetting what the house looked like with all of the wires coming in overhead and the mast for the power meter running all the way up to the soffit.  I think this will be one of those projects where we won’t truly appreciate the difference it made until we go back and look at old pictures and notice how much all cables, power meter, etc. stand out.

The last of the exterior wire clean-up is complete!

The last of the exterior wire clean-up is complete!

The new power meter.

The new power meter.

The new (straight!) telephone pole - now we just need to cut the old one down.

The new (straight!) telephone pole – now we just need to cut the old one down.

The house is still (obviously) a work in progress.  Overall, though, we are super thrilled with how smoothly the whole thing went.  My prediction a couple of months ago was that we would be going back and forth with the utility companies for the entire summer before we actually got the right people here with the right equipment to do the work.  I’m so happy to say I was wrong about that!

Now, we’re on to some landscaping work to get grass growing over that trench again … and we also get to cut down the old telephone pole (since it’s privately owned and all).  Sounds like a fun project, right?

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