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How to paint near electrical wires

Recently, FinDecor’s team was called upon to perform the painting of a cornice located near electrical wires. We often encounter this situation when doing outdoors renovations, be it for the painting of industrial, commercial or residential buildings. Obviously, we always take the proper measures to ensure the painters’ and pedestrians’ safety.

Is it dangerous to paint near an electrical wire?

First of all, it’s good to know how to differentiate the types of electrical wires.

High or medium-voltage lines are extremely dangerous: they present a shock hazard because they are not covered with an insulated sheath. Those wires are often found in group of 3, but not always. Hydro Québec recommends to keep a distance of at least 3 meters from any medium-voltage wire. If a tree branch touches one of those wires, don’t touch it! These wires are normally located above low-voltage lines.

The inferior line is often low-voltage. Those wires are coated with a protective insulating sheath, so they normally don’t pose a danger of shock. However, as those sheaths can be damaged, it is recommended to keep a 3-meter distance from those wires as well.

How to paint a surface located near electrical wires?

If the surface of the cornice you need to paint is located near low or high-voltage electrical lines which are not covered with a protective sheath, it’s mandatory to call Hydro Québec.

Depending on the case, Hydro Québec crew could install protection equipment on the wires which pose a danger, they could move away the wires, or simply cut the power around the worksite. This will allow you to paint and accomplish your renovations safely. However, it’s always better to plan in advance for exterior painting tasks, as there is a 3-months delay for Hydro Québec to take action.

A few tips to paint safely next to an electrical wire

In addition to all of these precautions, we recommend to hand-wash the surface instead of using a pressure washer, and we suggest to use a paint brush and a roller so you won’t damage the electrical lines and thus you will avoid electrocuting yourself. Also make sure the driver operating the lift or elevation platform has received the proper training. Don’t forget to beware of the high winds which can make the lines move.

To get an idea of the costs and required time for an exterior painting job, contact us now. FinDecor takes care of calling Hydro Québec for you, if needed. We also take care of getting the street occupation permit if necessary.

Dave Beaupre

Master-painter