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  • lightning strike!

    My dads house got hit today, punched a melon sized hole in the roof and knocked out service. Random breakers were tripped in the house panel as well as the shop panel (detached from house, both panels are fed directly from the meter). Any bets on how bad the damage is? Anyone have experience as to what damage this causes? Our electrician is on his way, but I was just curious to your experiences in this matter. The ground wire to the water line from the well is charred and you can see where it arched in places!

  • #2
    Re: lightning strike!

    Oh, the hole in the roof is directly above the service panel in the house, service does enter the home underground and panel is in the basement. No above ground power lines on the property, just at the road.


    • #3
      Re: lightning strike!

      Start by getting a notebook and writing everything down that is wrong and take lots of pictures. Write the times and dates of everyone you talk to about this issue as well. Go to everything that is electronic and check it if it was plugged in even if it was not on the tripped breakers. I am willing to bet every piece of electronic component is fried in the house. I would try and get the water line replaced since it is metal, it is bound to have small pinholes in it waiting to burst open.
      • leak detection
      • drain cleaning
      • utility locating
      • conductor fault locating
      • and other specialties.

      Greensboro NC, Winston-Salem NC, High Point NC, Thomasville NC, Kernersville NC


      • #4
        Re: lightning strike!

        Happened here in 2003. Lightning hit a tree next to my garage, went into garage and followed sub panel wire into house. You name it, it was cooked. What amazes me is I still find signs of it in the garage. About a year after it happened I went to hook up a ice maker and grabbed a roll of 1/4" copper tubing that was still in the box. I pull it out at the job and it looked like some one took a welder and just touched it in about 1000 spots melting most of the roll together. Make sure you check things that were not plugged in also. I had a LP salamander heater that got it in the garage and it was not plugged in. Amp and ohm check the submersible pump if hes not on town water. Take off every recepticle cover in the house and take a look. What I found was the lightning will not follow a wire that takes a 90 degree turn in direction. In my case where ever it did turn it blew the wire apart. One in the garage blew a hole thru the roof. Good luck and take your time. Treat it like a CSI scene.


        • #5
          Re: lightning strike!

          I had one this spring
          Customer had lightning strike a main transmission line 186,000 volts it fell on their shed sitting under the wires and sent it to the house
          Burned a hole in a coper water line at the washer that had a ground clamp and wire on it and flooded the house
          I fixed that leak then found another and had to pull the tub out to fix 2 more burn holes in the hot and cold lines that were touching each other and a cast drain pipe
          the drain pipe juiced up the cast vent that burned a hole in cop line touching the vent going to the inside unit on air conditioner up in the Attic
          It was Crazy
          The guy had 3 flat screens in one room never bothered any of them

          His neighbor lost every thing plugged in but his water was fine


          • #6
            Re: lightning strike!

            Seen it many times,bummer. I went to a house that got hit like u say here once, total rewire. pulled the sheetrock off walls,every metal romex staple was fried melted the wire in too. most appliances were fried. well pump fried. even copper pipe thru out house had to be replaced ,pin holes all thru it.
            good luck Huck


            • #7
              Re: lightning strike!

              My previous place got hit about 14 years ago. In the months following the hit, I saw a number of electronic devices and appliances fail. It was tough to get some of them covered by insurance. Ended up replacing a lot out of my pocket. Water heater ignition was DOA right off, along with TV, one computer, and some other stuff. Was not a direct hit, no hole in the roof like you got, but I had UG service. Hit the neighbors garage which was only ~75 feet from my place.
              "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" Bob D. 2006



              1/20/2017 - The Beginning of a new Error


              • #8
                Re: lightning strike!

                "Lightning" is really weird sometimes. Reading the previous posts, tells me everyone has quite a bit of experience with this and all the comments and suggestions are "right-on" with what little I know.

                I've been concerned about lightning for some time, having experienced a hit on my grandparent's farm when I was in my early teens. At the time, the local TV station had a transmitting tower on thier hill, about a half-mile above the farmhouse. Apparently some recent work on the transmitter had resulted in the grounding cable being disconnected there, and when the lightning struck the tower, it went seeking a "ground". The nearest ground was the power transformer right next to the farmhouse.

                When the "strike" traveled to that transformer, it blew it off the pole and continued into the house. It completely fried the electric fence transformer located in the back workroom and in turn, knocked much of the electric fencing off it's insulators on the pasture bordering the yard area. While some of the wiring in the house was severly damaged, some circuits like the lighting wasn't damaged. They had a "zip-cord" extension running under part of the living room capet, where it fed my Grandfather's reading lamp. That cord was fried to the point that it cut the carpet. My grandfather had a huge tube (before transisters and IC's) shortwave radio which he listened to almost every night. It was not damaged, but the smaller radio in the kitchen was, as was the electric range. They had no TV or other electronics.

                As a Ham Radio operator, lightning is a major concern for me. At my Painted Post house, my "antenna" is 280 feet of 12-gage wire which is suspended from three trees, like a big horizontal triangle suspended about 35 feet above the ground. It is fed into the house with copper-shielded coax cable. I brought it into the house at the electrical service entry point and at the point, I have several coils of heavy gage wire looped around the cable bundle and fastened to the two service ground wires. (those are in turn hooked to the two ground rods per the 1989 NEC code which is when I did this install). In addition, I have a 3/4 copper pipe which runs along the back length of my operating table and that is grounded back to the service entry where it is tied to the main ground. On that copper pipe, I also have a coax connection which is soldered into the ground bar. When my radio is not in use, I disconnect the coax cable and screw it directly into that grounded connection. The point is to keep any static electricity from building up on the antenna, which as I understand it, is the main attraction to lightning.

                The concern I would have, beyond finding what has been destroyed and needs to be replaced, is to make some determination as to what/why lightning picked your house as a strike point. While such things can just happen, I also tend to believe that something presented an easy attraction and lightning/electrical discharge does seek the path of least resistance.

                Last edited by CWSmith; 06-15-2012, 10:04 AM.


                • #9
                  Re: lightning strike!

                  this is not a house hit story, but true,

                  one day we were getting some dry lighting strikes, I was on the tractor and when it hit you would see puffs of dirt that had been thrown up, I was heading to the house at the time to get out of the barren field, and my DD was out in the garden and a strike hit about a 1/4 mile away out in a field, she was reaching to pick a flower and that flower shocked her when it struck.

                  when the lightning would hit the barbed wire fences, (before I started to put a few steel posts in the line) it would blow out about 10 to 15 wood posts at the strike point, they would just be blown to bits, the center of the group, and then in varying state of fragments the further away from the center point,

                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~

                  (I have read that they use a megger Ohm meter to test the insulaiton and the wireing after a lighning strike or it should be tested by a megger Ohm meter),

                  and it looks like they also recomend a visual inspection and if nessary use a scope of some type to see in side the walls, at the wirring,




                  Last edited by BHD; 06-15-2012, 12:54 PM.
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                  • #10
                    Re: lightning strike!

                    Thanks all for your comments. Electrician checked out the house, a few gfci outlets were toasted as well as some dimmers and lightbulbs. The well contact switch took the brunt of the hit and fried it.


                    • #11
                      Re: lightning strike!

                      It is a nice history.


                      • #12
                        Everything practical to unplug I disconnect. Also cables and the telephone line.

                        If a thunderstorm is approaching, or expected while we're out, I disconnect the power wires and cable TV cables to the flat screen TV, and power line and telephone line to the computer and modem and cordless telephone base.
                        I lay the wires away from the items.
                        Also the SpaceSaver microwave is easily unplugged from the cabinet outlet above.

                        Hopefully nothing will arc to the items or distructive voltages will be induced in them.

                        I have always wanted to make the bare power wires sharply bend 90 degrees and have a bare ground wire .3 millimeters from the conductors head straight down to earth ground.
                        .3 mm is close enough to take a lightning arc to ground but not touch and ground 240 VAC electrical power.
                        The problem is, would a static electrical charge jumping the .3 mm gap create an ionized path which continues the 240V power to ground through its own continuing ionizing arc?
                        I'd have to form a mini "Jacob's Ladder" so that as the 240V arc flame rises it separates and extinguishes.
                        Last edited by Robert Gift; 07-11-2012, 06:38 AM.
                        I'd take an educated guess - but I'm unqualified.
                        It ain't just soot, it's paydirt.
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                        • #13
                          Re: lightning strike!

                          A GFCI is much more subtle. When you look at a normal 120-volt outlet in the United States, there are two vertical slots and then a round hole centered below them. The left slot is slightly larger than the right. The left slot is called "neutral," the right slot is called "hot" and the hole below them is called "ground." If an appliance is working properly, all electricity that the appliance uses will flow from hot to neutral. A GFCI monitors the amount of current flowing from hot to neutral. If there is any imbalance, it trips the circuit. It is able to sense a mismatch as small as 4 or 5 milliamps, and it can react as quickly as one-thirtieth of a second.
                          Mitsubishi car stereo gps


                          • #14
                            Re: lightning strike!

                            It can be odd. A friend of mine had his house hit and it not only burned out all the wall switches and sockets, but also blew out several windows. Big bucks to fix, but at least he was insured.

                            I live in northern Florida, and sometimes in the summer we get lightening and thunder shows that almost have you crawling into a closet for protection. Not that doing so would do any good.

                            I know that some think that lightening rods would be a solution, but from what I gather installing such items requires a degree of skill that is more than most of us have. There appears to be a standard debate going on about which type of rod is best. I am not sure if a do-it-yourself solution, using maybe a series of tall, galvanized steel or thick copper pipes driven some distance into the ground and extending several feet up above the roof at all the roof-edge end points of the house would do the trick, or if some kind of very special rods would be required. I am retired now, but I used to work in a building that had dozens of rods scattered over its flat roof. Not sure if the place was actually ever struck, however.

                            Anybody here experimented with rods? Of course, there is no way to tell if any kind of installation works until a hit occurs.

                            Howard Ferstler


                            • #15
                              Re: lightning strike!

                              As BHD mentioned the wiring needs to be Meggered to verify the insulation is ok.

                              This is very important and I would make sure it was done by the electrician and you have proof! Everything might seem fine, meanwhile inside your walls a cable could have all the plastic melted off! When lightning strikes it goes thru the gound including all the ground wires in your house.