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What Does A Lineman Do?

So, you saw a picture of a guy stringing wire hanging off of a helicopter in some backwoods country. You’re probably wondering “what the hell” that’s what i want to do. Well the good news is you can, the bad news? It’s going to take some time. Today we’re going to go over some key principles of getting started on becoming a lineman. Let’s jump into it.

So what is a lineman? What exactly do they do? Before diving into this, let’s understand how power flows. Power Lines carry energy from one place to another. It starts off at the source. There are plenty of sources energy comes from.

  • Natural gas
  • Hydro
  • Wind 
  • Solar
  • Nuclear
  • ect..

And the list goes on. Anyway, power (electricity) is generated at the source, from there you need strong cables (transmission lines) to carry this power from the source to a big city like Arizona. Between the source and the destination, we have something called substations. Basically substations act as a step down or step up in power transfer. These stations allow the outgoing powerlines to carry more or less of a load depending on the distance and need of the destination. These are typically found close to towns, cities, and power generation sources. Now that we have a basic understanding of the source to the city, we’re going to talk about specific types of lines.

Transmission lines.. Linemen are the guys who build, repair, or replace these lines and structures. Say we have a city that doesn’t yet have an efficient power source, but we have a big city located 60 miles away. This big city runs off of hydro electric, meaning water/dams. These hydro sources produce more power than the big city itself needs, so they decide the best use is to share it with your offbeat little town. In comes building the powerline, more specifically the transmission line. Transmission lines are the powerlines that carry power over long distances. These lines are usually charged with 69 KV and above. In order for the big city to share its power source with you, you have to build transmission lines to transfer that energy. This is one of the main jobs linemen do. They assemble structures and string lines across those structures. This is known as building transmission lines. Over time these lines and structures get damaged. In order to keep the power on in your little town, these lines have to constantly be maintained. In comes another job or linemen, maintenance or rebuilding. 

Distribution lines.. Ok, so we have our main transmission line carrying 69 KV and higher. Unfortunately, we can’t just pull off this line straight into your house. We have to do something called “stepping down” first. Stepdowns happen in substations, this can be a little tricky because substations can act as “step ups” as well. A substation may include transformers to change voltage levels between high transmission voltages and lower distribution voltages, or at the interconnection of two different transmission voltages. The product? A distribution line.  A distribution line is a line or system for distributing power from a transmission system to a consumer that operates at less than 69,000 volts. … A distribution line is a line or system for distributing power from a transmission system to a consumer that operates at less than 69,000 volts. These are the majority of the wires you see while driving around town and they’re strung across wooden or smaller metal poles. Now that we have a basic understanding of the power grid and how it operates, in comes the lineman. 

Lineman.. So, here we are and you can probably guess it… Linemen work on these powerlines, who would have thought. But what exactly do they do? The primary role of a Lineman is to install, maintain and repair high-powered electrical lines and systems. Those working as a Lineman, sometimes referred to as an electrical Lineman or even groundman, run and repair both overhead and underground electrical cables and wires. Since we’re dealing with electricity, there is constantly work to be done. A tree falls, and downs a line. A car crashes into a pull. A wooden pole from the 1950’s needs to be replaced. These issues are especially prevalent when storms come through and wreak havoc on our electrical grid. Lines go down, flooding, chaos. This is when linemen shine the most. While everyone else is inside, they’re out battling the elements repairing lines so you can continue to have power in your home. 

So, if you’re looking into becoming a lineman, or were just curious on what they do, we hope you learned a thing or two. If you’re interested in becoming a lineman, check out our blog “How to become a lineman” where we go over what you need and what to expect when getting into the trade. Until next time, thanks.