Utilities: What's Mine and What's Theirs?

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

At the moment when the phone line to your home stops working, you don't expect a large bill for repairs. After all, isn't the phone company's responsibility? My company offers a repair plan with a monthly fee; is it worth it? When it comes to utilities, it's important to know what's yours and what's theirs before repairs are needed.


What Belongs to the Electric Company

Typically, most of the electrical components in your home are your responsibility. The basic elements that the electrical company claims responsibility for are the service drop and the meter. The service drop is the technical term for the wires that come into your home. Also belonging to the company is the electrical meter. If either of these elements are the source of your electrical problems, there should not be a charge for repairs or parts.

Once the power enters the home through the meter, however, all repairs are yours. Circuit boxes, wiring, and outlets are costly repairs that require electricians. Prepare and budget for possible repair calls.

What Electrical Elements Are Yours

Unfortunately, most of the electrical lines in your home are your responsibility. From the place where the electrical lines enter your home to the outlets in your living room, budget for possible repairs. The electrical company may or may not offer repairs for these components, but private electricians may be the more frugal choice.


Repair estimates average $90 for each outlet that needs replaced with an additional $10 per outlet once the repair man is on site. Larger projects such as rewiring and diagnostics can cost $750 or more depending on the individual home.

Phone Maintenance

Phone lines operate similarly to electrical lines. However, most large phone companies offer an "inside line maintenance program." These programs allow the users to pay a monthly fee and receive free phone line repairs. However, one handyman for hire advises paying for the repairs rather than the repair plan. Honestly, how often do phone lines go bad? The plans also boast "loaner" phones, free problem diagnosis, and other useless perks.

When there are phone problems, however, the customer is most likely picking up the tab. Unless the problem is in the actual wire to the house, much like the electrical wires, the resident is responsible. Six years ago, we were required to pay for a new junction box where the lines entered the house, something I assumed belonged to the phone company. The charge was added to our phone bill, and the charge was broken up over the course of three months' bills.


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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 519 Posts
February 16, 20090 found this helpful

We live in an apartment I think was just built after WWII, so I figured it would be worthwhile to get the maintenance plan. Sure enough, they had to replace the wiring all the way to the basement! Thank heaven I didn't have to get a handyman to do THAT. So do also consider the AGE of your phone installation before deciding on the maintenance plan.

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March 31, 20090 found this helpful

You can also think about getting rid of your home phone, using only a cell phone. I've gotten rid of my home phone almost a year ago & it definately has been worth it! As I WAS paying 2 phone bills.


At the time, my cell phone was a prepaid and I was paying a lot of money to keep it. Now, I have one bill and get everything I need for one price every month.

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Silver Post Medal for All Time! 364 Posts
January 16, 20130 found this helpful

How often do phone lines go bad? Consider where the junction box is located. Ours is where the blazing sun hits it all day. 'nuff said.

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Budget & Finance UtilitiesFebruary 16, 2009
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