4 Socket Electric Meter Base Replacement

Details and Photos About The Replacement of a 4 Gang Electric Meter Socket Base

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A view of the work site with mark down flags and paint to indicate the location of underground utilities
A view of the work site with mark-down flags and paint on the grass to indicate the location of underground utilities.

The building was built in the 1980’s.  With proper maintenance there would be no need to replace this electric meter base.  The gas piping is very close to the electric utility and would probably not be allowed today.  The gas pipes look as though they could use some maintenance as well.  On the left side between the bush and the window is the new meter base in a box and covered with a plastic sheet.

A new primed and painted backboard to support a new meter base
A new primed and painted backboard to support the new meter base.

The new board was installed using primed deck screws.  I also caulked the top and sides of the opening before putting the new board in place.

View of the new meter base on saw horses getting prepped for the installation. A two inch hole was made in the bottom with a knockout punch to accommodate the existing 2" PVC conduit coming out of the ground. Reducing washers are used to protect the concentric knockouts
View of a new meter base on saw horses getting prepped for the installation.

A two inch (trade size) hole was made in the bottom with a knockout punch to accommodate the existing 2″ PVC conduit coming out of the ground. 3″ x 2″ Reducing washers were used to protect the concentric knockouts from breaking loose.  This photo is from a different meter base replacement in the same neighborhood.

Temporary power for our tools is usually derived from another nearby electric meter base circuit breaker or from a willing homeowner.  A portable generator could also be used for temporary power, but they tend to be noisy.

The existing tenant load wires and the grounding conductor to the water pipe are sticking out of the wall. A reducing washer is sitting on the PVC conduit connector ready for the new meter base.
The existing tenant load wires and the grounding conductor to the water pipe are sticking out of the wall. neighborhood.

A reducing washer is sitting on the PVC conduit connector ready for the new meter base.  The #2 aluminum wires were too short to reach up to the new main circuit breakers.  Short pieces of wire were added by using split bolt connectors rated for aluminum.  This photo is from a different meter socket replacement in the same

The installed 5 gang meter base to replace the old rusty 4 gang base.
The installed 5 gang meter base to replace the old rusty 4 gang base.

Note the new intersytem bonding termination to the left of the PVC conduit.  A five gang base was used to accommodate the existing tenant load wires.  When the power company returned to restore power from the transformer, a meter person also arrived and installed brand new electric meters.  Stick-on numbers were added later on the black circuit breaker covers to indicate which breaker and meter were for each condominium.

To help preserve the new meter socket installation I caulked the top where it meets the building with clear outdoor gutter and flashing silicone caulk.  I also caulked around the top hub covers.  Those are the two areas I have found that water is likely to enter.  The 23/32″ CDX plywood backboard was primed and painted all around to help it last longer.  I always cut the board, and primed and painted days before the replacement so that we could focus on getting power restored as quickly as possible.

The completed installation of a new 5 gang electric meter socket base
The completed installation of a new 5 gang electric meter socket base.

The meter person from the power company put the new seals and locks on after installing the new electric meters.  I added some stick-on numbers to the black circuit breaker covers after this photo was taken.

The old ground rod with the utility connections on it
The old ground rod with the utility connections on it.

I left a loop of #4 green grounding conductor wire there in case the other utility companies wanted to connect to that rather than the intersystem bonding termination.

Because the ground rod was the only connection to earth I installed two new ground rods at least sixteen feet apart.  I also kept the connection to the existing ground rod because other utilities were connected to it.  I did install an intersystem bonding termination, but left it for the other utility company’s to make their connection to it.

One of two new ground rods with the grounding conductor connected to it.
One of two new ground rods with the grounding conductor connected to it.
The green insulated copper underground grounding electrode conductor that is connected to the ground rods
The green insulated copper underground grounding electrode conductor that is connected to the ground rods.
The other ground rod with the #4 copper wire connected to it
The other ground rod with the #4 copper wire connected to it.

I doubled the wire end over for better contact.  I drove the ground rods and put the grounding conductor in the ground a few days before so that we could focus on getting power restored to the building as quickly as possible.  I used a rotary hammer with a ground rod driver attachment to drive the ground rods.

A picture of the job site with tools and materials spread on the grass
A picture of a typical meter socket replacement job site with tools and materials spread on the grass.

I always laid down a plastic sheet to keep the tools from getting lost and from getting wet.

Tools Used to Replace a Four Socket Electric Meter Base

Tools on hand for the meter base replacement included a hydraulic knockout punch set, hole saws, reciprocating saw, circular saw, oscillating saw, cordless pistol drills, cordless angle drill, caulk gun, impact driver.  Also needed was a socket set, ratchet, and torque wrench to tighten the electrical connections.

Allen wrenches were used in addition to lineman pliers, Knipex high leverage diagonal cutters, screw drivers, Channellock pliers,  Half round files, knife, four foot ladder, and a work table.  Also used were a shovel, 4″ trench shovel, pick ax, pry bars, paint brushes, wire brushes, sandpaper, painter’s scraper to remove old caulk, extension cords, GFCI portable outlet box, goggles, gloves, and a hand truck.  I had bolt cutters and a large crimper available if needed.

The remains of the old meter base ready for recycling
The remains of the old electric meter base ready for recycling.

Looking at the rusting pattern inside shows that water was mostly entering from holes in the back rather then from the top cover.  However I have also seen instances where the top cover was the culprit.

Materials Used to Replace a Four Socket Electric Meter Base

Materials for this job included one 5 socket electric meter base – Siemens #SP4511RJB (I think this Part Number has Changed), four 2 pole 100 amp Siemens main circuit breakers (Type Q2100H), exterior primer, exterior paint, 23/32″ plywood, 2 ground rods, two ground rod clamps, #4 copper grounding wire, #2 aluminum THWN, aluminum rated split bolt connectors, rubber tape, black vinyl electrical tape, aluminum anti-oxidant compound, four 1 1/4″ chase nipples with locknuts and plastic bushings, one 3/4″ chase nipple with locknut and bushing for the ground wire entering the rear, 2″ and 2 1/2″ deck screws.

In addition 1 1/2″, 2″, and 2 1/2″ x #12 sheet metal screws, GE silicone 2 Gutter and Flashing caulk, intersystem bonding termination, small cable straps for ground wire, a button Romex connector for the ground wire, green electrical tape, white electrical tape, fender washers, stick-on numbers, foam backer rod, cheap plastic tarp for grass cover, pieces of wall insulation to stuff into the wall, and duct seal to fill the chase nipples to reduce the amount of cold air going into the wall.  I also had a can of Rust-OLeum industrial gray spray paint on hand for touch-up.

My post on concentric knockout removal may be useful to you.