{ WIRED 1 }

… we love our yard; it was one of the reasons we fell in love with the house. it’s large and has amazing potential, but it needed [needs]  significant  improvements. aside from the overgrown vegetation, we placed dealing with the electrical and cable service entrance at the top of our list. when we bought the house an array of cables and wires came in diagonally across the yard, sagged to a dangerous and illegal height, and created a major eye-sore.

…so, we decided to underground the service entrance; this meant we had to:

·         hire an electrician;
·         contact FPL (electricity provider) and AT&T (cable and internet provider) to understand the process and get approval for the undergrounding; 
·         get city permits and coordinate inspections for every step of the process;
·         purchase the pipe from FPL and coordinate for our electrician to pick it up; FPL provided the pipes for both, the electrical and the cable/internet connections;
·         find the hand hole to connect to. this took about two weeks; involved two visits from the FPL engineer (who could not find it); and even sneaking into an adjacent abandoned property; all, to no avail. eventually, my dad found it right where it should be, buried at the foot of the pole;
·         dig a long, deep trench (more on this later); and
·         coordinate installation with FPL, the city, and electrician.

Digging the Trench

…in order to underground the utilities a 30 inch deep by 80 foot long trench was needed; and in  an effort to save $1,200, we decided to dig it ourselves… well, with help from my dad and our friend Steve.

…we started by contacting Sunshine, a Florida service that identifies existing underground utilities. in theory, this should prevent you from running into issues as you dig. after getting the go-ahead from Sunshine, we identified the path of the trench and searched for obstacles along the way… and ran in to a pretty big one: a three foot foundation like concrete cylinder, which’s purpose is still a mystery. digging this out took some time and required serious man power…

…we then rented a nifty trench digger called a Ditch Witch ($90 for the weekend) and started on the trench… and a whole five minutes later we busted the water main. yes! the water main. it also ran diagonally across the yard and Sunshine failed to identify it. you can imagine the overwhelming sense of panic as we watched water gush out faster than you can imagine. Steve put all his strength into closing the main valve, which had not been touched in years, and the water finally stopped pouring in. since emergency plumbing services are not cheap, we are grateful for my do-it-all dad who fixed the busted pipe and got water running in our house again.

…meanwhile, Manny and Steve focused on digging the rest of the trench. because of our proximity to the bay, they were mostly digging out sand. this made using the Ditch Witch a breeze, however, it also meant that the trench would collapse easily and in order to get the full 30 inch depth, the rest had to be done by hand.

…two days later, the electrician laid the pipe and we got to cover the trench. as if all the hard work never happened.

Undergrounding the Electric Service

…after a lot of coordination, the day of the installation everything ran smoothly. FPL disconnected the service, ran the new wiring through the buried pipe, and the electrician connected it to our brand new panel. within two hours, the hanging cables were gone and we had power!

Undergrounding the Cable/Internet Service

…we have two main choices for cable and internet service: Comcast and AT&T. after Comcast failed to show up to two scheduled appointments and offered no explanation, we decided to go with AT&T’s U-verse. we explained our desire to underground the service and that the pipe and trench would be provided. since all they would have to do was disconnect the service, put the cable through the pipe, and reconnect, they said they would be happy to do it. it all seemed simple enough… well, after the first visit from a technician who couldn’t do anything because he apparently was answering a call for a cable that was “on the ground,” we knew we had a problem. after endless calls, visits from another 3 technicians, and my frustrated threat to cancel the service if this wasn’t done, a very helpful fifth technician said he would try. however, it turns out that one of the previous technicians had pulled out the string that ran inside the pipe, without this, the cable could not be pulled though. sensing my frustration, Technician Number 5 came up with the ingenious plan to pull the string through the pipe using our shop vacuum. minutes later the cable was pulled through and our service was connected.

…four months after the process began, our backyard was cable and wire free!

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