2 years ago it was lighting -- Now another scary weekend

rococogurlAugust 12, 2007

Some of you may recall that we had a freaky lightning strike two years ago where the lightning hit a tree, traveled across the yard and into the house.

Now we've had another "electrical runaway" -- I put it on my blog as I couldn't really face writing it more than once and with all the pics.

We still don't know how much the whole thing will cost and we're looking at a substantial amount for phase 2 in September.

Nor do I know if I'll need to replace my refrigerator, and microwave so I may need some advice down the line.

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Oh my goodness......what a nightmare.....what causes that kind of thing? I've never heard of that happening to anyone...

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 12:15AM
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wow, quite the ordeal, and a scary one. You write so well !!

I kept on reading and have to agree, your hutch is perfect.

All the best to you as far as the rest of the work goes, glad you found the right person to diagnose the problem.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 6:25AM
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Wow roc! What a fun filled weekend you had - so sorry!

Did the electrician talk about putting a surge protector on your entire house? A friend of mine had her house hit twice with surges within a year. They had something installed for her entire house - not just protectors located near appliances/tv in the house. They are suppose to be much better.

Look at the bright side, at least the house didn't burn down.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 7:40AM
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How dreadful! I'm with allison- investigate that whole-house surge protector. We had one, or something like that, installed several years ago, as we (were) on an orphan grid. All upgraded, now, thank goodness.

Does insurance cover any of these losses?

Glad you're safe!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 9:11AM
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Wow, that's a crazy weekend. Did the electrician figure out what the problem was with the cable? I would think it's rare for buried cable in a conduit to suddenly fail.

There's a thread over on the building a home forum on whole house surge suppressors that you should check out. I'm surprised you didn't install one after the lightning strike! And as pecanpie mentions, you might want to consider checking out your insurance for coverage.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 10:15AM
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We have a whole-house surge protector in the circuit box. Perhaps it did something but it didn't prevent this type of surge.

Here's what I found out: Power lines to the house are composed of 3 big wires twisted together -- it's what they replaced. The neutral, which broke, is the moderator of the power. Everyone has these. They go from the pole on the street, where there's a transformer, to the meter and into the house.

Sometimes these ruptures happen since the wires are rubber coated but they can become brittle and break in two. So the power goes crazy, in effect, creating dangerous surges. They said it happens when aluminum wires corrode. The power company maintains the lines that run over houses, which is why power goes out when the lines go down during storms.

But in the country they tend to bury power lines in pvc pipe due to big trees and small animals and it's "your responsibility". Fortunately, we got the right guy for the repairs. This is just phase one. They're recommending doing the other half of the line and we plan to. Never want this again.

The interesting thing is that some of the appliances weathered it and others didn't.

What saved us was the backup generator, actually. No idea about insurance yet. But after people like riverrat went through much worse stuff -- this was scary enough for me -- I just feel thankful we lost a few appliances and the house is okay. And that we were here when it happened.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 10:19AM
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Oh my gosh. I'm glad you're alright, at least. We are so at the mercy of our "utilities" now...it's scary to think about what kinds of power we think we're harnessing.

And you already sound so expert discussing it...the things we find ourselves having to learn about.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 1:46AM
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The refrigerator is repaired: $900.

The micro will be $300+ change to repair and it's nothing special. Any suggestions?

It's mounted below the upper oven at countertop height. I was thinking steam oven (pricey and single-function) or one of the microwave drawers which doubles as a warming drawer (which I don't have). Seems more practical.

Of course the dopey little backup micro that DD left when she moved works just fine. Too bad it's so low or I could go for a coffee system.

The micro drawer will not be a lovely design choice but at this point I just want out of appliance & insurance hell.

And yes, I have posted on appliances -- not this question but something more specific related to the drawers as they get very good reports over there.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 2:26PM
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micro drawer; never heard of that, I'll go read on appliances.

Good luck with the rest of your ordeal, is the outside work all finished ?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 9:57PM
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Hi Mitch. The work is done for now but in Sept we plan to relocate the transformer closer to the house to even out the pull on the electrical line. They feel it has too far to travel. They can put the transformer in the hole they excavated to find the line. Then we'll replace the cable from there down to the pole.

Wish I could have spent those sums on furniture or art.

We should have just built a brand new house -- in fact we have at this point.

The bill came in for the emergency repair and I was surprised it wasn't double. Seems we were very lucky with the electricians in many respects.

Hopefully the insurance co won't be weasels.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2007 at 8:17AM
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Oh dear! How awful! We had a lightning strike last month, and I thought it got everything. It struck a large royal palm just outside and traveled through the cable box just next to it. We were really lucky, just some modems, cable boxes, etc. The TV came back after an hour (that was strange). You could see smolder marks where the cable line came into the house. I was home, and it scared me to death!

I hope things continue to work out for you.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2007 at 12:01PM
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Dragonfly -- that happened to us 2 summers ago. Lightning hit one of our huge trees in the back, traveled across the yard (creating a 4-inch deep trench) and hit the porch. It charred a spot on one wall and fried a few things.

It was scary enough not being in the house I can only imagine. Our cable looked melted. This time, we had the burn marks on the light fixture in the laundry room.

Hope you've returned to normal by now and that your insurance worked out.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2007 at 4:42PM
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Roco, we had to move our transformer too. The developer put them all at the street (3 acres or more lots) and the power company said they had to be closer than 300ft to the house. They would not have left ours at the street and run the wire. They actually gave us a great deal moving the transformer - charged us about 600, then turned around and charge my dad 3K at their weekend house, across the dam from us.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2007 at 8:02PM
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Allison, ours is currently on the pole. With the work halfway done, our lineman recommended the move. He explained that the power travels too far this way. The move puts the transformer at bout about 225 feet -- we're 450 feet back from the road at the center/high point of the property. It appears the p.o. installed it himself (and actually did a good job, distance aside).

Fortunately, the power company will provide the new transformer and, I believe, the fiberglass pan for it. (Put a smiley here, please).

The insurance company appears to be balking at paying for the repair/replacement of the line. We feel they should. At this point, moving the transformer is incidental since we've replaced half the line and the excavation was done. We're replacing the other half -- crazy not to. You made out like a bandit and even your folks got off cheap. This has been very expensive and we still need to repair the brand new driveway.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 11:17AM
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That sounds scary! Wow! Now how does this happen? Did they give an explanation? I don't wonder that your house surge protector couldn't protect your entire house if this was a lightening strike induced surge but Whoa! So lightening struck twice eh?

Coincidentally, we're going through the same-but-different deal. Our water lines - apparently 80+ years old as is the house (didn't know there was public water lines out to houses 805 years ago, but whatevah) - are iron and have apparently been slowly corroding & probably leaking into the soil lo these many years. So our big challenge for the past year has been to try to rustle up the right men to install a new feed water line to the house from the street into the house before the iron pipe entering the house weakens to critical point and breaks.

Of course, the water line runs through the lawn, past an old maple (oak?) tree (roots, anyone?), under about 20feet of bluestone and fieldstone porch/entranceway, under a paved driveway and through the fieldstone foundation. So, there lived the danger of having to replace not just the water line but the very entrance to our front door and our garage as well.

Well the needful was done earlier this week, we did find the right guys afterall, and they pulled and pushed stuff enough to avoid having to topple the built stuff (including the driveway) but with some serious landscaping needed now.

So, once the horror of not knowing where the fault in your debacle passed in your account, the tale of woe re: underground operations range painfully familiar! And amazingly coincidental!

Wish you all the best with the rebuild. Do you know if they can replace the lines without ripping up all the driveway? It looks to be in good condition and it would be such a shame to do that. On the other hand, if you wanted to redo the driveway, this is a good excuse. We had a retaining wall we've been wanting to have redone for the 5 years we've had the house and because it was going to be "touched" in this latest project, we've had them take it all down. Now we have to figure out what we put in its' stead! *Gulp*

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 2:13PM
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Oh, yours is on a pole. We have no poles, everything is underground. That price was just moving the boxes (brought the power from the road to the box, which is ugly as sin - a 3ft green cube) . Running from the box to the house was a lot more. Those thick wires are not cheap!

Why is it these kind of things always snowball into so much more than you think!?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 4:48PM
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mindstorm -- same thing, different service.

allison -- the line guys said the transformer is on the pole and shouldn't be. The wire alone was $600 -- you're quite right. That's only half of it.

Had the whole thing been above ground it would have been the power company's responsibility, start to finish. But the height and density of our woods doesn't lend itself to that. the p.o. had put it underground and it's where it should be.

Little by little we'll get back to normal, I suppose.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 8:17PM
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