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I recently figured out that the "megameter" line item in Xactimate should really be "Megger Meter".
A Megameter has nothing to do with electricity. It's a tool for astronomy. (you can Google it).
Megger, however, is a UK company that has been making electrical test equipment for almost 100 years. The Xactimate photo shows a device with a hand crank, so it can be cranked up (like a Russian battery free flashlight) and then used to test a rewired building with higher than normal voltage. As a brand name "Megger" is probably not the "official" name of the device just like "Band-Aid" is just one brand of self adhesive bandage.
My contractor freind says it is a two man job- one to do it and one to watch at a safe distance with 911 on speed dial. He also says the hand crank type is not used anymore.
Questions for "Sparky"*
1) How does it really work? 2) Is it always/sometimes used? 3) Is it a code requirement? 4) Does the electrician write up a test result? 5) How long does it really take? 6) Is it something that PAs put into their estimates that doesn't happen in the real world or is it really needed? 7) What is the real name?
* (If you see an electrician on a job site always refer to him as Sparky. He will appreciate your attempt at comraderie)
I appreciate any input.
Leland, the only times I have run into this issue involve fire claims when the city or county insist on the meggar in order to pull a permit or the local utility requires it to restore temporary or permanent power. The test is fairly expensive $500 - 1500 depending on the size of the building you are testing. Not every electrician is approved to do them but the local utility company can provide approved companies. The test itself doesnt take long to do however waiting for the report written by the testing company can sometimes be delayed. Basically they blast the system and the test reveals faults within the lines. It does not however identify if the problem is related to the claim damage or preexisting issues. I have never had a carrier dispute the cost for this test if it is required to repair the covered damages however, if a PA put it in one of their estimates, I would certainly verify that it is needed and required. I think you will see it on commercial buildings with a good deal of structural damage. Hope this helps
Megger is a generic term for mega-ohm meter, like Romex is commonly used for non-metalic sheathed cable. Megger is a mfg. It is used to test the dielectric quality of an insulated conductor. It can also be used to drive worms from damp earth and cause fish to jump out of water (like a crank telephone).
It is pretty simple to use. The wire is disconnected from all devices, isolated from any grounding system or device connected to the megger, and then a voltage is hankcranked into it. The better the insulation, the longer the wire (now a capacitor) will hold the potential voltage.
The voltage selections for a good megger are high enough to kill and can destroy any equipment accidently still connected to a circuit, so it is not a test for a novice.
Usually, only high current conductors, large service or supply conductors are megged, but some picky commercial or tele-communication companies require a meg test for even small and low voltage (120 volt) systems before they will entrust connection to their equipment.
For residential use, systems of 400 amps at 240 volts or less, meggers can be used to test questionable insulations but generally a simple continuity test will seperate the shorted wires from the usuable ones.
Sometimes a megger is used to Hi-pot large high voltage wires that have been in a state of disconnect or non-use for a period of time. Water exists in all raceway systems to some extent. Conductors in use will keep transient moisture dried out, but over time it can creep into systems disconnected for construction or maintenance. A skilled electrician or engineer might be employed to crank increasingly higher voltages into one of these at rest conducting systems to dry it out over a day or two before use to avoid damage to a damp leaky but otherwise useable system with a sudden high voltage connection. Note:this procedure is very rare and usually involves an engineering company even for very large sophisticated electrical contractorsl.
I suppose it could be used to dry out a wet residential system, but I've never heard of it. It would be cheaper and more reliable to just replace a residential wiring system exposed to that kind of moisture.
How long does it take. It takes about sixty seconds to crank a test plus ever how much time it takes an electrician to disconnect all devices to each wire tested. Multiple device circuits would require disconnecting each device and testing each segment of that circuit.
That should be about all you should ever need to know about meggers, except don't touch a recently megged wire end until it has been drained of potential. They can hold residual voltages for a while.
Hope that helps,
Wow, great info. Thanks. Maybe you can get Xactimate to correct their mispelling.
If there is a fire that melts/shorts out the service panel and destroys part of the building wiring, does it need a megger test after rewiring?
Every time? Some of the time?
The reason I ask is I want to put this in my estimate if it is really needed/actually done but I don't want to just throw things in. My coworkers usually put this in the estimates so I started doing it also.
Do city inspectors require this testing? It seems like it might be a good idea for liability reasons, both for the electrician and carrier. We've probably all had claims where the carrier told us to put something in that might not absolutely neccesary but doing so would reduce liability exposure.
I have a claim right now where 220 volts is coming out of an outlet that is supposed to be 110. I don't know much but I'm guessing that means some wires are shorting out inside the wall. The service panel started on fire after the transformer on the pole off the property started on fire.
I think I will end up paying for some rewiring, including drywall etc. If you were doing the estimate would you put in the Megger test?
Under what circumstances would you NOT allow for the Megger test?
Valleri- thanks for your reply- It looks like you posted it at the same time I was writing my last post- thanks for answering my questions.