Wire Rodents

When my wife and I started our own electrical company (AdenBecks) I had to develop ways to do the work without an apprentice.  As a result I created a system of doing electrical feeder installations for manufactured homes working solo.

The 200 amp wire for a mobile home is heavy, even when you use Aluminum wire.  Trying to pull the 200 amp wire through 2” PVC pipe is very difficult when you have two people doing it.  The Union prefers that the validity of a conduit run be proven by pulling wire through the run.  However that is not required in the electrical code.  My solution was to lay the wire in the run and then slide the conduit over the wire.  When the wire reached the pedestal I used a technique of swinging the conduit and wire aside and tipping the end into the pedestal.

Working alone saved my customers a lot of labor money.  The word got around and I made a niche for my new company for mobile home hook-ups.  As a result I personally connected well over 200 mobile homes.  I know that, because for years I kept a list of manufactured home hook-up customers.  At one time a newly developed Manufactured Home Park hired me to hook up all the homes in the park.  For a time I was hooking up about 2-1/2 homes a day.

There were challenges involved.

I remember one job distinctly.  It was way out in the country.  A man was putting in a residence for his mother.  While I was putting the wire in the ditch, the electrical inspector showed up.  This was fortuitous because it meant that the home owner could cover the ditch immediately.  On this job I used “Direct Burial” wire.  Therefore I did not have to sleeve the wire in conduit when it was buried.  The conduit was only necessary where the wire came out of the ground.

I finished the job and everything worked beautifully.

One day in the winter, and it was a cold day in winter, the home owner called and said that the power was off in the manufactured home.  I drove out and checked the power.  There was power at the meter, but not in the home.  The connections on both ends were good.

I took a guess at a point in the ground and dug 2 feet down to the wire (the ground hadn’t frozen completely at that point).  I found that the wire had been badly chewed by small teeth.  I had some wire on my work truck that I had salvaged from another job.  However it wasn’t 200 amp wire, it was only 100 amp wire.

I made a temporary run in conduit laying on the surface of the ground and got enough power to the home to keep it heated until a permanent fix could be made with the 200 amp wire.

I showed the owner the chewed wire and he informed me that there were no gophers in the area.  Well you don’t argue with a customer.  Even if you’re correct.

I cut out a chunk of the chewed wire and took it into the L&I office.  I asked them why the wire wasn’t rodent proof.  They informed me it was designed for direct burial, not to be rodent proof.


We found out later that the manufacturing process of the direct burial wire used a component that attracted rodents to it.  Sort of like offering them a sweet aperitif.

I lost a customer, the temporary wire, and the conduit, but I learned a few things.

We decided to put the direct burial wire in conduit wherever possible.

And I learned that gophers did not like mothballs.  For a long time I kept a supply to put in a ditch where I couldn’t sleeve the wire in conduit.  I never had proof that the practice was successful or not.