# Need electrical help

Mentor
We had a bad storm come up suddenly tonight and lightning hit outside and took out the electricity in most of the upstairs (two bedrooms are completely without electricity and part of the downstairs) These rooms are not on the same breaker, and I'm afraid to go down to the breaker box because it is directly above the sump pump (this builder was a genius) and it's the lowest part of the basement and it's always wet there.

Anyway, now my NEW tv, DVD, cable box and DSL modem are not working. The tv, DVD and cable box were all plugged into a surge protector (which is working fine). This is supposed to be a good surge protector. Is it normal for all the appliances to fry and the surge protector is unharmed? Could it have been a surge through cable and not the electric outlet? But wouldn't that have fried the cable box and not the other devices?

Also, in the other room, my computer, monitor and DSL modem were also plugged into a surge protector and the computer and monitor are working fine, but the modem is not working.

I wish my dad was still alive, he could explain this.

Help me guys.

I AM SO ANGRY.

Staff Emeritus
Evo said:
We had a bad storm come up suddenly tonight and lightning hit outside and took out the electricity in most of the upstairs (two bedrooms are completely without electricity and part of the downstairs) These rooms are not on the same breaker, and I'm afraid to go down to the breaker box because it is directly above the sump pump (this builder was a genius) and it's the lowest part of the basement and it's always wet there.
The breaker box should be grounded, so unless you have a broken ground or shorted breakers, you should be OK if you go the breaker box and check for open breakers. If you have lost power, mostly likely the breakers trip. To be safe, do you have rubber boots?

Evo said:
Anyway, now my NEW tv, DVD, cable box and DSL modem are not working. The tv, DVD and cable box were all plugged into a surge protector (which is working fine). This is supposed to be a good surge protector. Is it normal for all the appliances to fry and the surge protector is unharmed? Could it have been a surge through cable and not the electric outlet? But wouldn't that have fried the cable box and not the other devices?
In general, a surge protector should prevent appliances from being 'fried'. It is possible that there was a current through the cable. We had something similar here a few years ago, and the cable box and the VCR, which was attached to the cable box, got zapped. It's the digital electronics that are vulnerable.

I now use an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) in addition to a surge protector.

Evo said:
Also, in the other room, my computer, monitor and DSL modem were also plugged into a surge protector and the computer and monitor are working fine, but the modem is not working.
Are they on the same electrical circuit or same/different breaker box? In other works, do your working and non-working appliances have a common power supply?

Evo said:
I wish my dad was still alive, he could explain this.
Me too!

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Assuming that you know the outlets being used are live, then I would start checking for fuses or reset buttons on your devices. If there is nothing on the outside, if you take off the main cover, many devices have a fuse inside, but you have to be careful or you could get a nasty shock.

You really should have an licensed electrican take a look at things. You could have damage to the house wiring that could cause a fire.

Store bought surge protectors are next to worthless. A quality industrial device for the same electrical load may cost $500 -$1000. But, sometimes the power strips are better than nothing.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Since it came up
http://www.thekansascitychannel.com/news/4673237/detail.html [Broken]

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Staff Emeritus
Going back to your NEW tv, DVD, cable box and DSL modem are not working, may I suggest that you disconnect them and try each on a circuit that you know is working, i.e. test to see if they work. Alternatively, get an extension cord, run it from a working ciruit, and test each device.

Mentor
Ivan Seeking said:
Assuming that you know the outlets being used are live, then I would start checking for fuses or reset buttons on your devices. If there is nothing on the outside, if you take off the main cover, many devices have a fuse inside, but you have to be careful or you could get a nasty shock.

You really should have an licensed electrican take a look at things. You could have damage to the house wiring that could cause a fire.

Store bought surge protectors are next to worthless. A quality industrial device for the same electrical load may cost $500 -$1000. But, sometimes the power strips are better than nothing.
The electric company offers a surge protector that they install outside and guarantee that is any household appliance fries, they will replace it for free. I should have gotten it.

I'm going to check everything out tomorrow when I have enough light to see.

Astronuc said:
The breaker box should be grounded, so unless you have a broken ground or shorted breakers, you should be OK if you go the breaker box and check for open breakers. If you have lost power, mostly likely the breakers trip. To be safe, do you have rubber boots?
I need to get another pair.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Aww...that really sucks. Blame wolram! He's the one trying to take away the stuff that runs on 'lectricity. :grumpy:

Well, it looks like you're in Astronuc's and Ivan's good hands here.

Mentor
Astronuc said:
Going back to your NEW tv, DVD, cable box and DSL modem are not working, may I suggest that you disconnect them and try each on a circuit that you know is working, i.e. test to see if they work. Alternatively, get an extension cord, run it from a working ciruit, and test each device.

My expensive new tv.

Gold Member
Ivan Seeking said:
Since it came up
http://www.thekansascitychannel.com/news/4673237/detail.html [Broken]
He he he, that's funny. Here's my favorite quote from the article:

"[after the girl's father drags the burning mattress out of the house]: 'He said a bad word, and then Mom heard it, and then she went upstairs, and then she said a bad word, and there were lots of bad words around here,' the 7-year-old said."

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Staff Emeritus
Evo said:

My expensive new tv.
Sorry about your TV. Do the other appliances - DVD, cable box, and DSL - work?

This might be a good time to relocate the electrical service and get an industrial surge protector installed. Ivan's suggestion about a professional electrician checking out the wiring for damage is reasonable. Get an estimate on relocating the service. The electrician has to coordinate with the power company if they have to move the meter. Otherwise if the meter stays where it is, the power company would not necessarily be involved, and the electrician would handle everything.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Ivan Seeking said:
Since it came up
http://www.thekansascitychannel.com/news/4673237/detail.html [Broken]
There was a house on the local news here that was hit twice in the same night with lightning, or so they think. It was that same night my neighbor's tree knocked the power lines down here when we had multiple storms come through throughout the night. Apparently it struck their house or close to their house during the first storm. The occupants headed for a hotel for the night, and when they were away, it was struck again, and this time the fire finished off the house. (Though, I didn't hear of any witnesses to the second strike, so I wonder if something was still smoldering from the first fire that caused the second fire.)

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Mentor
jma2001 said:
He he he, that's funny. Here's my favorite quote from the article:

"[after the girl's father drags the burning mattress out of the house]: 'He said a bad word, and then Mom heard it, and then she went upstairs, and then she said a bad word, and there were lots of bad words around here,' the 7-year-old said."
There were more than a few bad words in my house earlier tonight.

I've been hit by lightning in this house before. I've also previously lost appliances to lightning, which is why I have everything on expensive surge protectors, which all still work.

Wind, hail, lightning, floods and tornadoes are almost an everyday thing here. My poor little plum tree died from the 90mph winds last month. Broke it in half.

Mentor
Astronuc said:
Sorry about your TV. Do the other appliances - DVD, cable box, and DSL - work?
No, everything is dead. I might do some tinkering tomorrow.

I'm on dial up right now, I kept the dial up account incase the DSL went down.

This might be a good time to relocate the electrical service and get an industrial surge protector installed. Ivan's suggestion about a professional electrician checking out the wiring for damage is reasonable. Get an estimate on relocating the service. The electrician has to coordinate with the power company if they have to move the meter. Otherwise if the meter stays where it is, the power company would not necessarily be involved, and the electrician would handle everything.
MORE EXPENSES, AAARGGHHH!

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Evo said:
Wind, hail, lightning, floods and tornadoes are almost an everyday thing here. My poor little plum tree died from the 90mph winds last month. Broke it in half.
Want to move to WV with me? I think the only thing they get is impassable mountain roads during winter snowstorms (aww, shucks, just have to stay home then).

Gold Member
Evo said:
There were more than a few bad words in my house earlier tonight.
I just watched the video on that website of the girl saying it -- even funnier.

Sorry to hear about your troubles, Evo. It sucks that the surge protectors are still working, seems like they should've at least paid the death penalty for their failure.

Mentor
Moonbear said:
Want to move to WV with me? I think the only thing they get is impassable mountain roads during winter snowstorms (aww, shucks, just have to stay home then).
YES! I hate this house!

Staff Emeritus
Maybe some of this might be covered under warranty, but that usually excludes acts of Nature, such acts being lightning.

I haven't been inside a TV in years, but I just took apart a monitor, and I did feel a slight electrical tingle when I touched some of the wiring, although it was disconnected. TV's and monitors have capacitors and transformers, and they will retain some charge.

Best to have a TV repairman look at the TV, otherwise tinkering with it may void any warranty. I don't know how easy it would be to get to a fuse, without removing the cover.

H*** of a way to start the 4th.

Hang in there though.

Grogs
Well, I hate to say it, but I'd have to echo what the others have said regarding calling a licensed electrician.

The reason has to do with how a surge suppressor works. It takes excess current and dumps it off on the ground (bare) wire where, in theory, it is dispersed into the ground via the equipment ground in the main breaker box. Unfortunately, in many cases, particularly with older houses, the box isn't properly grounded.

The National Electric Code calls for no less than a #4 copper wire from the fuse/breaker panel connected to a ground rod. The requirement is that there be less than 25 ohms between the neutral/ground bus and the ground. If a single ground-rod cannot achieve this resistance (common in dry soils) a second ground rod is required, at which point the NEC says 'good enough.' In older houses, it was common to achieve this grould by connecting to the water pipes. With the frequency of PVC pipes being installed these days, it's not uncommon to find that the ground has been interrupted by splicing PVC (plastic) pipes into the old iron/copper piping.

It should go without saying (on Physics Forums) that electricity will follow the path of least resistance to the ground. In a properly grounded house, that will be through the ground wire, into the ground rod, and finally into the ground itself. In a poorly grounded house, that path may well be through your TV, or even through you. Without proper grounding on your house, a surge suppressor is useless.

Mentor
Grogs said:
Well, I hate to say it, but I'd have to echo what the others have said regarding calling a licensed electrician.
The house is 10 years old. But that doesn't mean it was wired right.

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Gold Member
when I saw this thread I thought it was anoth PFer looking for some advice on how to solve a complicated problem. but then, I realized 2 problems:

1.) it was in GD
2.) It was an 'evo thread' on electricity
She's going to get hurt!

Gold Member
P.S.-

Mentor
yomamma said:
when I saw this thread I thought it was anoth PFer looking for some advice on how to solve a complicated problem. but then, I realized 2 problems:

1.) it was in GD
2.) It was an 'evo thread' on electricity
She's going to get hurt!
:rofl: :rofl: Yeah, I was thinking tomorrow when I start to take the tv apart, I should leave it plugged in so it will be easier to tell what's not working.

Grogs
Evo said:
The house is 10 years old. But that doesn't mean it was wired right.

Sadly, you are correct. I am *not* an electrician, but I've read most of the pertinent regulations and whenever I do electrical work, I strive to meet or exceed the NEC. It's just not worth saving a few bucks to do a shoddy job and risk someone lose their life. Unfortunately, I've come across many a shoddy job that I *know* was performed by a licensed electrician and inspected (on paper at least) by the city. An experienced electrician knows what he can get away with, and unfortunately in some cases is good buddies with the electrical inspector.

Gold Member
this could be a chance to get back at her for killing poor franzbear!

well evo, that's a pretty good idea. :uhh:

Mentor
Grogs said:
Sadly, you are correct. I am *not* an electrician, but I've read most of the pertinent regulations and whenever I do electrical work, I strive to meet or exceed the NEC. It's just not worth saving a few bucks to do a shoddy job and risk someone lose their life. Unfortunately, I've come across many a shoddy job that I *know* was performed by a licensed electrician and inspected (on paper at least) by the city. An experienced electrician knows what he can get away with, and unfortunately in some cases is good buddies with the electrical inspector.
The builder filed bankruptcy before the house was finished and the house apparently was slapped together in the end. I have my doubts about the wiring due to some prior problems. Also, my next door neighbor had to do a lot of re-wiring in his house.

Mentor
yomamma said:
this could be a chance to get back at her for killing poor franzbear!

well evo, that's a pretty good idea. :uhh:
It's times like these when you learn who your friends are.

You're a true friend yomamma. :uhh:

Gold Member
I would be if you didn't viciously look at your moderation options dropdown box, scrolled down, and clicked on that dreaded 'close topic' tab. ridding franzbear of his life.

and you closed the bob thread, what kind of sick person are you!?

Grogs
Evo said:
The builder filed bankruptcy before the house was finished and the house apparently was slapped together in the end. I have my doubts about the wiring due to some prior problems. Also, my next door neighbor had to do a lot of re-wiring in his house.

Eek! Luckily, the cost difference between really crappy jobs and good ones is negligable between the breaker panel and the receptacle. Most of the time, the in-house badly wired jobs I see involve things like using the slip-in terminals rather than the screw terminals. These are things that you can easily correct by taking proper precautions (turning off the breaker, or even the main breaker to be really safe) as a homeowner.

The 'shoddy' problems you would possibly see would be improperly sized wire (14 gauge wire on a 20 Amp circuit is most common) or improper grounding. You usually don't run into the really bad problems unless it's an old house with several generations of wiring. The good news is that repairs of this type, since they don't involve rewiring the house (and repairing all the holes in the drywall), are going to be a lot cheaper than rewiring the whole house.

Mentor
Update - add to the list of deceased items - my microwave oven and washing machine.

My ISP sent me a new DSL modem for free, but my ethernet connection is fried, so I still can't use it.

More storms are in the forecast.

WV...here I come.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Evo, there should be internal fuses that protect most major appliances.

Mentor
Ivan Seeking said:
Evo, there should be internal fuses that protect most major appliances.
The problem with the microwave is odd, it is on and appears fine, until you press start, then it won't start. For the washer, I have to call a repairman, I have to be home (just started my new job, so that won't be possible in the near future) and it cost $$. This is adding up to be one expensive lightning hit. zoobyshoe Evo, your problem is that you don't understand electricity: Electrons are like zoobies: they are covered with hair. Except electrons have hair that is infinitly long. (Physicists refer to the electron's hair as "field lines". But they're just trying to be fancy.) Their hair grows uniformly over their whole, round little bodies and sticks out straight in all directions. Einstein's head - electron, just about the same thing. Their hair is luxurious and shiney, but they never get to show it off because life, for an electron, is just one long bad hair day: there is always some other electron around whose hair is bumping into theirs. The hair sticking out in all directions is always pushing against the hair of other electrons. The result is that they are all always in a very negative mood. Physicists say they are "negatively charged" but who wouldn't be, all packed in with your hair bumping into everyone elses hair? Anyway, they are all always trying to get away from each other. Each electron is always trying to get as far away from all the other electrons as he can. Now your problem seems to be that a bunch of them all decided to move into your house at once. This wouldn't have happened if your house wasn't electron underpopulated in the first place. I suggest you buy a couple gross of electron decoys and spread them around so the real electrons will think you're actually electron overpopulated, and won't want to go there. As a matter of fact, I whittle electron decoys in my spare time here at the zoobie brush shelter, and can sell you a couple gross of them at a really reasonable price, say 3000.00. That's about 40% less than the commercially made ones, and mine are beautifully handcrafted. Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member zoobyshoe said: Evo, your problem is that you don't understand electricity: Electrons are like zoobies: they are covered with hair. Except electrons have hair that is infinitly long. (Physicists refer to the electron's hair as "field lines". But they're just trying to be fancy.) Their hair grows uniformly over their whole, round little bodies and sticks out straight in all directions. Einstein's head - electron, just about the same thing. Their hair is luxurious and shiney, but they never get to show it off because life, for an electron, is just one long bad hair day: there is always some other electron around whose hair is bumping into theirs. The hair sticking out in all directions is always pushing against the hair of other electrons. The result is that they are all always in a very negative mood. Physicists say they are "negatively charged" but who wouldn't be, all packed in with your hair bumping into everyone elses hair? Anyway, they are all always trying to get away from each other. Each electron is always trying to get as far away from all the other electrons as he can. Now your problem seems to be that a bunch of them all decided to move into your house at once. This wouldn't have happened if your house wasn't electron underpopulated in the first place. I suggest you buy a couple gross of electron decoys and spread them around so the real electrons will think you're actually electron overpopulated, and won't want to go there. As a matter of fact, I whittle electron decoys in my spare time here at the zoobie brush shelter, and can sell you a couple gross of them at a really reasonable price, say 3000.00. That's about 40% less than the commercially made ones, and mine are beautifully handcrafted. :rofl: I don't know, Evo, I think you should request a demo model before buying electron decoys in bulk. Afterall, while we all love Zoobie, we really don't know how good his whittling skills are. He might say they're all beautifully handcrafted electron decoys, and then you'll get them and discover they all look like proton decoys, and before you know it, more electrons than ever before will be flooding into your house attempting to mate with the proton decoys. There's no telling what they'll do when they realize they're only decoys! Science Advisor Gold Member Having been victimized by lightning strikes a few times [including one I took rather personally], I can attest it is a force of evil. Ivan, however, offered a useful suggestion. Most electrically powered devices have an internal fuse. - usually near where the power cord enters the case. A fairly simple continuity check with an ohmmeter on both sides of the fuse might save you a few$$. Alternatively, you could probably contract the services of a competent electrician for a nominal fee + incentive bonus for repaired devices. An aside, do not [as some morons do] forget to run your phone lines through a surge protector. Fortunately, I only lost a cheesy, dialup modem... and my beloved, pricey 21" computer monitor. And yes, if you must ask, my eyes got red, puffy and moist. But my attorney assured me a crying charge would never fly in court. She said something about a landmark case involving electrostatically aroused dust mites.

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Staff Emeritus
Evo said:
The problem with the microwave is odd, it is on and appears fine, until you press start, then it won't start. For the washer, I have to call a repairman, I have to be home (just started my new job, so that won't be possible in the near future) and it cost \$. This is adding up to be one expensive lightning hit.
I think modern digital electronics can get fried before a fuse has time to melt.

Our kitchen has GFI - Ground Fault Interrupters - which are required by code. They have tripped whenever a current surge occurred.

As for understanding grounding - see The Ground Wire

Please have the grounding of the main box checked - I wonder if your house received a current surge through the cable or power lines or both.

Regarding the new job:

GO EVO!