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Greg Johns WIN Cookeville

Old Satellite Dish With Electric Personality

So, let’s talk safety. Again. You’ll see, more times than not, most of these posts written by me will have some relational theme of safety. Such repetition may appear redundant. It is. Safety is a very important theme for home ownership – for you, your loved ones, and your house. Safety equates to longevity, health, and general sense of fiscal peace (yes, I believe in such a thing). With that said, let us continue – So, I was on this roof the other day:

I am up on this roof, in wet weather, reviewing the roof surface, and I see an old satellite dish at the rear of the home attached to the roof (there’s a separate, bone-brained issue here – we’re ignoring it). As I walk nearer to this back corner of the roof, I notice the main electrical service line. This is the main feed from pole – transformer – to the structure’s exterior electric meter. So, live, dangerous current. The service line is very near the satellite dish and, upon coming within 12 inches of the dish, I realized the metal edge of the old satellite dish has worn through the black protective sheathing of the service line AND the service line is firmly wedged into the satellite dish. I promptly step back. Metal to metal, plus high voltage, equals a very dangerous situation.

I immediately came down from the roof surface, called the listing/selling agent, informed her of the issue and then went inside and talked to the sellers. The sellers asked what they should do. I informed them to count their blessings and call the utility company, pronto. When the utility company technician arrived, I shared the picture I took (see above) and he immediately began addressing the issue. In the end, the only reason the house never caught fire is because the metal satellite dish was attached to the asphalt shingled roof (read, not conductive). A metal roof would have resulted in a very different experience.

All this, and I had stood within a foot of the satellite dish – even closer to the arm that extends from the dish. That experience was a reminder for me to count my blessings. Had I touched that satellite dish, my day could have gone in a significantly different direction (I bet it would have cleared my sinuses …). I barely had the presence of mind on a wet roof, on a cold day, to quickly process the information around me.

Now, in my professional opinion as a home inspector, this issue would have been averted if the utility company had responded appropriately to the past phone calls from the sellers complaining of ice-laden branches falling on the service line and reducing the clearance of the service line to roof. Or, if the old satellite dish had been removed appropriately when no longer in service … or, not installed atop the roof to begin with. Through all of this, I “hear” prevention. These are choices we make every day as home owners, as humans, that can have tremendous impact on how we experience life – or how long we get to experience life. In the living moment, these “things” taken individually feel small and insignificant. However, the confluence of variables and events is inevitable – what we think will never happen … well, we should know better. We only have control over a fraction of life’s experiences. Preventive maintenance is how we manage said control.