damage from brown outs?

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  #1  
Old 01-02-11, 09:17 AM
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Damage from brown outs? What to check?

I live in Palm Beach County Florida. While away for an extended period some part of the power company's equipment on our property failed, causing repeated brownouts. I really don't know if surges were occurring or not, but did not notice any light brightening going on.

When I arrived home in the afternoon the first thing that happened was the garage door went up 2 inches and died. Second was my computer would constantly reboot itself every few seconds/minutes. Third was at dusk when I flipped on the pool light, it lit for a second then died. When I had to turn on lights was when I noticed the dimming going on. Called FPL then and they sent out someone right away. He said it was a FPL equipment failure. A second crew was sent out that night and they hooked me into my neighbors house. After they left I went around testing lights and found that on one whole side of the house all the lights were extremely dim, Not fluctuating just constantly very dim. Also alot of lights thruout the house were out. Called FPL again and the crew came back and no longer had the dimming problem but the 'burnt out' lights were still out. Don't know for sure if this is important or not but both times they turned off all my power they did not have me unplug anything or turn off circuit breakers.

Should I have an electrician come and what should he check? Should I have our AC unit checked? Pool/spa? House wiring?? I've been trying to find out by reading on the net but am just confused. My husband is working out of town so this is on me. Really appreciate any advice!!
 

Last edited by kccdc; 01-02-11 at 09:56 AM. Reason: wasn't finished
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Old 01-02-11, 09:54 AM
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Brownouts can damage the obvious items like TV's and computers, but also refrigerators/freezers and electronically controlled furnaces. It depends on the length/severity of the dip, and whether or not it surges when it comes back. Honestly though, unless you have a notoriously bad power company (in which case you should invest in power conditioners for your electronics), I wouldn't be too concerned.
 
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Old 01-02-11, 09:59 AM
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Thanks for the reply JerseyMatt...I've added more info since your reply.
 
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Old 01-02-11, 10:47 AM
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Oh ok, that's not a brownout. Brownouts are when an entire grid has a voltage sag due to high demand and/or generation/substation failure. I'm curious as to what failed. Sounds like a bad transformer.. Did they tell you?

The second issue after they tied you to your neighbor's service (not sure what you mean by that, did they just switch you to a different pole or did they actually tie you to your neighbor's house?) was a loose neutral, which will cause high voltage in half the house and low voltage in the other half. 240v loads like your HVAC (and pool pump if it is 240v) would not be affected by this condition (however, they may have been affected by the initial equipment failure). High voltage could have caused bulbs to burn out (are you sure they burned out? Have you replaced them to see if they work?). This isn't something you really need to call an electrician for. The house wiring wouldn't have been damaged, but I would definitely check out everything, make a list of what was damaged, and file a claim with FPL to try and get them to pay for it. No guarantee you'll get anything, but it's worth a try, especially since it required a second call for them to fix it right.
 
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Old 01-02-11, 12:46 PM
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While away for an extended period some part of the power company's equipment on our property failed, causing repeated brownouts. I really don't know if surges were occurring or not, but did not notice any light brightening going on.
Just trying to understand here, how did you know any of this occurred if you were away? Is this information from a neighbor?
 
  #6  
Old 01-02-11, 07:39 PM
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JerseyMatt: The original guy out did say what it was but I can't recall just what the part was called now. If I remember correctly it was some kind of box in the ground near where our meter is outside. They have already replaced it and the hole they dug is maybe 1ft x 1ft if that means anything to you. As to the tie in to the neighbors. They ran a large size cable from my meter to the neighbors meter.
I have just returned to the house again (away frequently) and am in the process of checking out things. Have not replaced all 'burnt out' bulbs to test yet. Have found 2 GFI's no longer work and a couple of light switches that didn't work at first then later did. Florescent fixtures in the garage now hum loud.
CasualJoe:A neighbor said they'd noticed the outside lights dimming while I was away.
 
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Old 01-03-11, 09:25 AM
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The wiring itself should be okay, but pretty much anything that was plugged in or hardwired in could be damaged by an event like this. If you have AFCI or GFCI breakers in the panel they could be damaged too. Highest on my list of things to check would be the furnace controller board which usually controls the AC system too. The AC itself should be okay as I doubt it was switched on in January. Basically anything else could be affected too -- higher-end appliances often have control boards in them which may have been damaged, obviously any electronics or entertainment equipment would be susceptible.

I think the best course of action would be to do a detailed survey of all the appliances in your house to come up with a list of damage and first try to get the power company to reimburse you, second file a home-owners insurance claim. They will sometimes cover damage like this when it was not your fault and happened outside the home.
 
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Old 01-03-11, 05:21 PM
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I think the best course of action would be to do a detailed survey of all the appliances in your house to come up with a list of damage and first try to get the power company to reimburse you, second file a home-owners insurance claim.
I think I'd try filing a claim with the utility company immediately.
 
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