What do I do with a downed wire/cable?
March 29, 2011 9:01 AM   Subscribe

There's a downed cable/wire in my building's backyard. It is similar to this previous question, but there is no serial number on the wire so I can't confirm what it belongs to. Also, one side is attached to our building and the other end is attached to...nothing. What do I do with it?

There are actually two cables. Both are connected to the side of our building, but I can't tell if they're connected directly to a gray electrical box that's right there or if they're tied around a wire that goes into that box. During the blizzard we had in February, the wires started sagging a lot, and then about two weeks ago (I know; I'm slow) the wires hit the ground.

The end that is not connected to anything is on our building's garage roof. It looks like they used to be wrapped around something, but whether it was another wire or the utility pole that's there, I don't know. No one in the building has reported issues with cable, phone, internet, or electricity.

I don't want to touch it. You have to enter our locked backyard to get to either end of it. Who do I call to check it out?
posted by bibbit to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
Since you don't know what it is, I think it's reasonable to call the Downed Power Line reporting number at 1-800-334-7661 from this page.

(assuming you are in Chicago as your profile states)
posted by davey_darling at 9:10 AM on March 29, 2011

You can always try calling 311 if you're in Chicago (or another location with a 311 service). Failing that, you could try calling the city another way: public works department perhaps? Or if you give us a picture or two, we can try to ID what sort of utility it might belong to. A close-up photo of the "gray electrical box" might help you figure out where it's going too.

Not touching it sounds like a reasonable and prudent plan, though it's most probably not dangerous. I wouldn't chance it though, and it doesn't sound like touching it is going to help you figure it out anyway.
posted by zachlipton at 9:53 AM on March 29, 2011

If you take a photo of the wire and post it here we might be able to tell you what it is and what to do. You could also just describe it, round, or flat, black or gray, ect.
posted by Felex at 9:58 AM on March 29, 2011

Response by poster: I can take a picture when I get home (ugh, should have thought of that). But the cable itself is black and round, and looks exactly like every cable strung all over the place in residential areas. The gray box on the side of the building has a mess of cables going into it and it kind of looks like the downed cables are wound around one of the lines running into that box. The other end of the cables (the end not attached to anything anymore) are all twisty, like they were also wound around something for a long time.
posted by bibbit at 10:17 AM on March 29, 2011

Best answer: I am an electrician. It is most likely cable TV RG6 wire. You should post a picture here, if you are not sure.

RG6 is low-voltage and not dangerous. Cable TV installers are notorious for wasting the wire, running extra feet of wire to avoid having to fish the wire in a difficult location. Cable TV installers also rarely take the time to demo old wire. They just leave the old wire there, and run new wire.

RG6 is not very valuable either. There is very little copper in it.

The price of copper is at any all time high right now. Theives are cutting down and scraping copper wire every chance they get. They will not waste their time with RG6.

If this wire was dangerous high voltage wire, you would have likely had a problem long ago. Hot exposed high voltage wire is unlikely to be there without creating a problem for several months.

If you can confirm that it is RG6 - then just cut it down.
posted by Flood at 11:17 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Result: the cable was attached to another cable which is also attached to nothing. I called the power company to have them take a look and it was not theirs, so I assume it does belong to one of the local cable companies. I was able to cut it down with no problem.
posted by bibbit at 12:30 PM on May 3, 2011

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