Who’s Responsible for a Down or Sagging Power Line?

Kathryn Pomroy
Written by Kathryn Pomroy
Updated September 8, 2021
Powerlines running to row of houses
Thomas Winz via Getty Images

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You’ve probably never thought about the overhead power lines that crisscross your yard to deliver your home’s electricity. But if a power line sags or is damaged from icy conditions or falling trees, it’s suddenly at the forefront of your mind. 

When there’s a problem with your power line, know when you’re the one responsible and when it’s on the utility company’s shoulders.

When to Hire an Electrician

Most utility companies are responsible for the “service drop,” which are the wires that run from the utility pole to your home. This also includes the electric meter that measures your electricity use. 

That means in most areas of the country homeowners are responsible for other components, such as:

  • Insulator and weatherhead: The point where the electric lines connect to your home 

  • The service entrance cable: The wire that extends from your insulator to the meter and from the meter to your circuit breaker box or fuse box

  • The meter base: The box your meter is mounted to

  • The circuit or fuse box: The main service panel that houses your fuses or circuit breakers

But this breakdown isn’t black and white. Depending on where you live, the responsibilities can vary. So if you have a problem with your power line, your first priority should be to contact your utility company to determine who is responsible. 

How to Find an Electrician

Before you handle any type of electrical, including sagging or downed power lines to your home, hire a local electrician to do the work. Never attempt to address it yourself

Here are some tips for finding the right pro to fix your damaged power line.

Use Word of Mouth

One of the best ways to find an electrician is word of mouth. Asking friends and family for recommendations can help you find an electrician you’re confident in. 

Not all electricians work on downed power lines, and they may only be qualified to work on the electrical components in your home. Be specific in your ask when you reach out to a pro.

Look for Referrals

Referrals and feedback from customers are priceless. A positive referral from a homeowner who has had the same work done gives you greater assurance to move forward. 

Before Hiring an Electrician

More powerlines running to row of houses
barbara pisiolek/EyeEm - stock.adobe.com

Before hiring an electrician, get an idea about costs. Generally, electricians charge an hourly rate for a service call. The first hour usually costs more, possibly up to $150. Consultations and estimates also follow this pattern. Most electricians will also charge an hourly minimum to compensate for their trip to your home. 

Know Your Responsibilities to Get an Accurate Quote

Before you call an electrician to come out and take a look at the power line, call your utility company to find out what you are responsible for fixing. That way, you’re not paying for something that the power company is ultimately on the line for.

Check Your Electrician’s Qualifications and References

Checking an electrician’s references, qualifications, and licensure is the first step in ensuring they’re the right fit for you. There are several ways to do this:

  • Check your electrician’s website, which should list their certifications, qualifications, credentials, training, and licensure status

  • Look at the electrician's Angi profile to find information about your electrician’s past projects, services, feedback, and reviews

  • Request proof of licensure through your state’s Department of Labor 

Questions to Ask Your Electrician

Before you hire your electrician, ask them some questions first.

  • Who will be doing the work? Will it be the owner, a licensed electrician, or an apprentice? If the electrician uses a subcontractor, will they be insured and licensed?

  • Will you warranty your work? You'll want to ask what portion of the job they guarantee—parts, labor, or both, and how long the guarantee is effective.

  • How much experience do you have? Beyond simple house wiring, has your electrician ever tackled power lines from the pole to your house?

  • Are you up to date with the National Electrical Code? The NEC regulates electrical work in most states. A good electrician is current on the most recent edition.

Ask For Quotes

Gather quotes from at least three different electricians before hiring. Ask the electricians to break down pricing and explain in detail the work they will be doing. 

It may be tempting to choose the electrician with the lowest quote, but you’ll want someone who knows the guidelines for repairing power lines, and this person may not always be the least expensive.

Hiring Your Electrician

Once you’ve picked your pro, there are still some steps you need to take.

Get a Contract and Arrange Payments With Your Electrician

Never move forward until you understand what’s in the contract. Your contract should include:

  • An itemization of all work to be done, including the price for that work

  • When the job will be completed

  • Plans for any follow-up, if needed

  • The required deposit, if any

  • Payment schedule, terms, and method

Keep Records of Your Electric Project

Take photos of the wires to your home, your meter, fuse box, and anything else you believe you’re responsible for. Also jot down:

  • What work the electrician completed

  • How long your electrician worked on the project

  • Any changes in your electrical service, like if you had a power surge afterward or if you’ve been able to save on your electric bills since the electrician completed the work

  • All payments made

After Your Electrician Has Finished

As your electrician wraps up and you’re satisfied with the job and your costs, it’s time to leave a review. This will help the next homeowner choose the best electrician for their needs. Remember, only pay the final amount due after the job is inspected and completed successfully. 

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