If you've noticed some changes in the utility poles in your Pittsfield, Massachusetts neighborhood, you're not alone.

Over a month ago I noticed vehicles from Eversource on different streets in my neighborhood changing locations each day. A few days later I noticed employees of the utility company canvasing the streets, digging up the dirt surrounding the base of the poles.

At one point I was driving home from work and it looked like a groundhog had put in work as there was a substantial pile of dirt surrounding almost every single pole lining the street.

Instead of googling it, I asked my father, the knower of all things (like he legitimately knows everything, not just one of those dads who THINKS he knows everything) and he told me they were digging down to inspect the viability of the pole, essentially checking to see if the wood was rotting or not.

Turns out, he was right.

According to Electrocuted.com, the average age of a wooden power line pole is 40 years old. Some poles can even be 85 to 100 years old. Over time, wood poles can lose the integrity over time due to many factors. Utility companies are responsible for inspecting damage to wooden poles and other structures. Wood poles lose strength over time, due to many factors.

According to the National Electric Safety Code (NESC) requires an electric company to inspect and maintain power lines on a regular basis.

Many utility companies use a five-year inspection cycle, though some are more frequent, and some with low population density and low deterioration/decay rates are longer than five years.

Wooden poles are typically inspected in cycles of five and 12 years, depending on the age of the poles and the utility company.

National Electric Safety Code

After that inspection the it's determined if a pole needs to be replaced, or simply reinforced. If a pole only needs to be reinforced, a metal "C-truss" (think a tall metal base at the base of the pole) is pounded into the ground surrounding to the pole, which is then strapped to the pole. In the case of the poles in Pittsfield, the metal is painted brown to match the pole.

Have you noticed this is in your neighborhood?

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