Knocked back to the stone age…

Okay, maybe not the stone age. 19th Century maybe? (this house was built between 1896 and 1903, there is some debate). Wait. The air-conditioner survived so, maybe not quite so far back.

Oh, and the water heater.


It’s been a long weekend. Lemme start over.

Y’all might recall about this time 2 years ago that God, or Thor, or Zeus, or Science…all depending on which mythos I’m required to buy into this month…did mightily smite our pecan tree. The lightning strike blew bark clean across the street into the neighbor’s yard, welded links on the chain-link fence, and had some effects on the house as well.

The tree has recovered nicely BTW…full bark covers the damage and it is as happy as ever.

Anyway, we were smote again last week. Tuesday a lighting storm left popped power-line fuses and dead transformers all over the city.

Several houses on our block took damage from one (or more) of the voltage surges.

Our internet/cable modem and router were destroyed. Fortunately the computers are wireless and thus not damaged. We lost all the wired in carbon-monoxide detectors. Timers died. Many light bulbs (CFL’s) gone as well.

Every breaker in the house that had a load popped, as well as many that didn’t.

The refrigerator, the air-conditioner, and the water heater (electronic controls) survived. Seems the breakers managed to protect induction loads.

Pretty much anything else that was on did not.

We lost all the food in the refrigerator and freezer as well (yuck).

Cable guys should fix their stuff today. I’ll have to go buy a new router…and a freezer full of food.

We’re figuring around $500 in damage. Unfortunately that’s about what my insurance deductible is, so no help from there.

Neighbors lost internet equipment, computers, and appliances in varying degrees, but at least nobody burned down.

I am reminded again, of how glad I am I installed the new service equipment. The old electrical system probably would have simply exploded.

Daniel Meyer

About Daniel Meyer

Author. Adventurer. Electrician.
This entry was posted in Electrical. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Knocked back to the stone age…

  1. clifton says:

    Ouch. I read the Facebook reply before I saw this. That’s the way mine usually turn out – $20 less than the deductible… 🙁

  2. cruhnke says:

    Do you have a Whole House Surge Protector installed on your panel? If not, I would recommend you look into one. The cost is between $50 and a couple hunnert bucks for the device and about a couple of hunnert — give or take — to have it installed by a licensed electrician. The warranty is voided if the electrician is not licensed. Individual surge protectors still recommended for electronic devices — modems, printers, TVs, stereos, etc.

  3. Mike says:

    Make the whole house supressor has a fat green ground wire and a good low resistance ground. I helped install one a few months ago. The “green wire” ground was tied to a cold water pipe near the meter panel. Ever since plastic water pipe has become popular I refuse to consider the cold water line as being “ground”.
    We drove a new 10 foot copper rod right next to the foundation and right under the main meter panel just for the green wire ground for the power panel, and incidentally for the whole house supressor. BTW they do need replacing after every major hit. Make sure that as the electrician installs it he does it so that the replacing is simple.

    New topic:
    Do you remember Byte magazine and Jerry Pournelle? (the science fiction writer and computer nut).
    He had a column called “Computing at Chaos Manor”. Well, Jerry had a encounter of the worst kind with a power surge. Some idiot hit a power pole on the street behind his house and dropped a power pole, one that had 16,000 volt on the top level. As it fell one of the 16kv feeders dropped into one side of the 240 volt drop to Jerry and Roberta’s house. Well, 16,000 volts into a circuit designed for 120 volts does nasty things.

    The “Alan” he mentions in the article (the building inspector) is an old friend of mine by way of amateur (ham) radio. He’s now retired from the county, but still keeps his hand in. And every time I’m about to do something to my house that involve mains power, water, sewer or structural changes I send an email to him and run the idea past him. He’s caught a few “stupids” and takes the time to not only say “don’t” but to explain why. He also proofread the article I wrote on AC Power issues for a different web site:

    Back to the main point of this posting:
    Byte Magazine is no more, but Jerry, being a Professional Writer kept the copyrights to his articles. He has a web site,, and all of his columns are there.

    For your reading pleasure, here’s the story on The Big Power Spike:
    (from column #94, August 1989, the days when the 33 MHz 386 was king…)


Leave a Reply