The Cable Guy



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    So last weekend I'm digging in what's going to be my new garden and cut this little black hose that's buried about 4" under ground. I thought it was an abandoned drip line from an old watering system. No big deal. An hour or so later I'm taking a break and go to surf the web. No connection. As you might have guessed, it turns out the little black hose wasn't hollow. It was my TV and Internet cable line.

    I was heading to the hardware store anyway so I got some connectors to fix it up. I already had the cable. After an hour of work on what should have taken ten minutes I get the line temporarily fixed. After I get done digging up the new garden I'm going to have to seal up the connection and rebury the line.

    All of that is no big thing. But it led to the next part. The WTF part.

    As I was looking at the cables that had been attached to the house and noticed something kind of strange. The line that comes from underground didn't go directly into the distribution box. It went into one of these two cables that went around the back of the house. I was kind of wondering where they went anyway because I hadn't seen any connections on the inside on that end of the house.

    So I follow these lines. Starting on the south side of the house the wires go to the west and around the back. They go down the side of the house at the corner and then back up after the corner. When it gets to the door it goes over the top and then goes all the way to the other end of the house. Going up and down to get around doors and windows. Staying low for the most part so it's easy to put more nails in the siding.

    Around the corner and at the other end of the house is the power panel and the gas meter. The cable runs up near the front of the house to where the power panel is and there is a strait-though (barrel) connector. At that connector, a copper wire runs down to the ground rod for the power panel and gas meter. On the other end of the connector is another cable. It turns around and follows the first cable along the north side of the house, all the way along the back, and back along the south side and right into the cable connection box.

    In short, the cable guy routed 150 feet of wire all the way to the other end of my house and back just to pick up a ground.

    Later, as I was clearing some grass before I began to dig I tripped over an existing ground rod only a couple of feet away from the cable box. There is even a connector for a ground wire still on it.

    It's my guess that the latest guy to do an install came out and the ground connection had been broken by the prior home owner. He couldn't find the rod in the tall grass and didn't have another one on the truck. So I get a pair of cables wrapped around my house.

    Maybe. Just maybe, there were signal problems because of using two different ground rods. But I don't thing so.

    I haven't yet tried disconnecting the wires that go all the way 'round the back of the house and connecting the ground in the box to the local ground rod. But I will.

    I'd post picks but I've got a life. 

    MArk B.

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  •  I've heard of programmers paid by the line, but cable guys paid by the foot?



  • @Master Chief said:

     I've heard of programmers paid by the line, but cable guys paid by the foot?

    I haven't heard of cable guys paid by the foot either.  I have heard of Fruit by the Foot.  So if somebody has heard of cable guys paid fruit, I'm pretty sure we can use the transitive property.



  •  TRWTF is digging in your yard without knowing where utility lines are buried.  Imagine the fun if you'd hit a gas line or buried electric cable.



  •  Even if he got them marked I doubt that cable would've shown up on any plans the city had.



  • @Master Chief said:

     Even if he got them marked I doubt that cable would've shown up on any plans the city had.

     

    My understanding of "the way it works" is when you call Miss Utility (or whatever cutesy name they have for it in a given area), they don't even bother with the local government and go straight to the utility providers.  The providers are bound to mark any buried lines/pipes/etc. they have in the area of interest within (in Virginia) 48 hours.

    If you don't call Miss Utility, or don't pay attention to the marks, you bear liability for damages.  If, on the other hand, you hit an unmarked cable or pipe, the utility that should have marked it is responsible.



  •  It's"Call before you Digg" around here, and it's not a matter of looking up plans.  They connect a signal generator to nearby access points, and then have a little wand they swing back and forth to trace where the wires go underground.  I don't know how it works on plastic sewer pipes, but they mark that too.  Google for pipe and cable locator.

     Oh, and it's a seperate company that is paid by the utilities to do the marking - I assume it's much cheaper to pay them to mark stuff than to dig it up and repair it.

    If you hit a line or a pipe without calling  to mark it, you are responsible for the damage, but if you have it marked, and break something they missed, then the utilities are responsible.   The water input to my house evidently makes a weird turn out in the street before coming into my house... a digger broke the pipe last year, and the markings were way off.    Not good when you look out the window and see 4 guys standing around a newly water-filled trench.



  • Using two different grounding plates is asking for trouble. You really should use the same ground in the cable box, that you have in the power outlets.

    We installed some network equipment on a friend's house and he has the lightning rod (and metal parts of the roof) connected to different grounding plate than the power lines. And we noticed there was tens of volts between them -- during good weather. During storm, you can get much more.

    Now the cable that comes from outside has to be protected from having different ground levels at it's ends, but the coaxial and video cables that go to the TV are not. They have grounded shielding and it is normally grounded at both ends. If the grounds are different, not only it can degrade the signal, often significantly, but during thunderstorm sufficient voltage could build up to actually damage the electronics.

    Note, that it's not a problem for twisted pair cables (phone or ethernet), because they are not grounded except with a spark gap.



  •  How are you finding all of this out just now?  How did you not notice things like this when you were purchasing the house?  Did you not walk around the house and inspect it before you bought it?

     

    The guy who did my DTV install did the same thing: he burried the line about 4 inches deep right through, what will soon be, my wife's flower garden.  That was until I saw him doing it and made him fix it.  Installers are retards and they will place shit anywhere and put holes in your walls wherever they want if you're not watching them.  And no, they didn't file with the city as to where they placed the cable line.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Imagine the fun if you'd hit a gas line or buried electric cable.
     

    The sparks were pretty but didn`t last very long.

     



  • @notromda said:

     It's"Call before you Digg" around here, and it's not a matter of looking up plans.  They connect a signal generator to nearby access points, and then have a little wand they swing back and forth to trace where the wires go underground.  I don't know how it works on plastic sewer pipes, but they mark that too.
    The specifics vary by jursidiction.  In some places they will only locate the utilities in public space.  In the case of a water or sewer line, that's usually enough to guess where it is in private space.  But it wouldn't help in this case.  Further, while they may use a signal trace, they don't necessarily have to.  They may just identify what their records show as the location.  In the case of plastic pipe, newer lines -- especially water or pressurized sewer -- are typically installed with a tracer wire for signal traces.  Otherwise, they do look it up on plans or similar records, which, when you get back past about 1980, are usually wrong or complete fabrications.

    @notromda said:

    Oh, and it's a seperate company that is paid by the utilities to do the marking - I assume it's much cheaper to pay them to mark stuff than to dig it up and repair it.
    That depends, too.  There are some areas where the authority handles their own marking.   In my experience, this is most common with water authorities.  Either way, it's not that it's cheaper to mark than repair, it's that it's cheaper to hire someone else to mark than to do it yourself.  Utilities are required by law to mark lines in most jurisdictions.

     @notromda said:

    If you hit a line or a pipe without calling  to mark it, you are responsible for the damage
    Not only that, you could face criminal charges, especially if someone is hurt.   But the fines alone are enough to make it a bad idea: for example, on the low end, Washington Gas charges a flat rate of $1,030 for a repair, while hitting one of Verizon's fiber lines could run you $10,000 to $25,000.

    @notromda said:

    but if you have it marked, and break something they missed, then the utilities are responsible.
      Be careful in this assumption, though.  How far off a mark has to be before it is incorrect varies greatly by jurisdiction, and while they all tell you to call somewhere in the neighborhood of 48-72 hours before digging, be aware that they can often delay a marking for 15 days or more.  Find out the procedure where you live and give yourself a week's lead time to make sure the marking gets done.



  • My fun experience with buried cables was last year when Verizon went through the neighbourhood laying out their fibre. As luck would have it it wen right through our backyard (even though there is a common area no more than 10 feet from the cable - another WTF).


    The contractor doing the worked sliced though our irrigation system. In hindsight it looked like they tried to fix it themselves, then when the realised the couldn't do it, they made sure nobody was looking, taped it all up and just buried the mess, hoping that no-one would notice a failed sprinkler head. 6 months later when I turned on the system for the first time (ironically to check it after Comcast had relaid a cable) I discovered a wonderful new fountain in my yard.

    It took a few calls to Verizon to get some out to look at it as after all they hadn't been in my yard for 6 months - but I knew the leak was right at the location of where the Verizon cable was. When the inspector finally came out and saw the actual mess he started apologising and it was fixed within 24 hours.



  • I have no idea about the NEC, but the Canadian Electrical Code is pretty serious about grouding, and has provisions for stuff under 30 volts to follow as well.  Generally, your house is grounded to one central location.  It's been a while, but I am willing to bet code does not allow you to ground your stuff anywhere and everywhere.

    If this were the case, he should have run some 14 AWG wire to panel rather than run the cable to the panel to do this.  But that doesn't mean he had that much on hand.  If he didn't, it's safe to assume as a cable installer he had PLENTY of coax.  Which would lead to this situation.

     Just my 2 cents.



  • @amischiefr said:

    How are you finding all of this out just now?  How did you not notice things like this when you were purchasing the house?  Did you not walk around the house and inspect it before you bought it?

    In my experience, few people look at the wiring and piping around the houses they look at buying.  Not that I have anything approaching statistical significance, but out of about five different people with whom I've looked at houses, only one of them was interested in the utility lines.  Note that the one exception was not my father, veteran purchaser of houses - he just checked a random sampling of electrical outlets, under the sinks, and in the electrical box.  Admittedly, after his latest "find", I hope he'll be far more careful the next time.



  • @amischiefr said:

    How are you finding all of this out just now? How did you not notice things like this when you were purchasing the house? Did you not walk around the house and inspect it before you bought it?

    Like the other guy said, few people look. But I did. As a former contractor I took a good look at the house. I even hired a professional home inspector and had my step brother the pest inspector take a look. We found a couple of things but not much. In the last five years this is the only thing I've found that was a surprise.

    It's the stinking cable TV. It was well installed. Where it went didn't matter to me beyound it did go where I wanted it to.

    MArk B.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    TRWTF is digging in your yard without knowing where utility lines are buried. Imagine the fun if you'd hit a gas line or buried electric cable.

    The entire point of the post, and clearly stated directly in the text and indicated by the 150' of cable, the electrical and gas are on the NORTH end of the house where the ground rod is. The cable TV line in is on the SOUTH end.

    The water comes in on the front, or east, of the house just off center too the north.

    The power, gas and water all go under my driveway on their way to where they connect to the house.

    Utilities, including cable TV, are supposed to be burried at least 12" underground. Most places it's closer to 16".

    If you take into account that I cut the cable under the place where a yard edging block had been removed from, and other changes the prior owner had done like adding top soil, the cable was only 2" inches under the dirt at best.

    MArk B.


  • @SteamBoat said:

    Utilities, including cable TV, are supposed to be burried at least 12" underground.

    Utility cables are so frequently not buried in the prescribed manner that, while I was working at a company which insisted2 that its utility cables be buried 6' deep, and encased in a foot of orange cement1, people actually believed claims of "the network went down because a contractor performing parking lot or road maintenance backhoed the Internet connection."

    2 When downtime costs $100k per hour, you pay extra to avoid downtime.  When downtime costs over $100k per hour per building, on a campus with a lot of buildings, you pay a lot extra to avoid downtime.

    1 As I understand it, the utility companies were happy with this.  "You'll pay us to let you do our work for us, and just have us inspect it?  OK."

    0 What do you think this is?  C?  It's obviously not, as the subscripts are backwards.  C counts the *other* way.  There is no 0 subscript, so you can't be reading this.



  • At least you didn't knock out an entire state's phone and internet by digging through that cable, like what happened here last year. I was affected: my mobile phone had no signal for most of that day, though our landline and internet went through alternative companies and still worked. The funny thing is I drive through Molendinar to get to work... I thought I could see the cut cable and newly laid pipe but that might just be my imagination. :)



  • @morbiuswilters said:

     TRWTF is digging in your yard without knowing where utility lines are buried.  Imagine the fun if you'd hit a gas line or buried electric cable.

    Plus, if you'd called a digging hotline, you wouldn't need to take pics -- you could just post a scan of the map they'd send you. Where I live, the maps are free and digging without calling is illegal.


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