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Lightning strike in front yard...a few problems inside - where do I go from here

Lightning strike in front yard...a few problems inside - where do I go from here

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Old 07-05-11, 10:55 AM
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Lightning strike in front yard...a few problems inside - where do I go from here

Lightning struck a tree in my front yard last night (so glad I was not home!). When I got home, the first thing I found was that my garage door opener would not work. At that point, my neighbor came over and told me about the tree. So...I proceeded to do some checking in the house. Here is what I have found, so far.

1) the garage door opener plugs into a ceiling outlet, but there is a garage ceiling light that is working fine. Also, there is a GFI outlet out there as well, and I htought that might be the problem. I can't get it to "pop" with a reset, BUT, that outlet does appear to be working - I plugged in a batter charger unit and the light came on. So, it is likely that the opener unit got "fried"?

2) I have an old range/oven. The burners work, the broiler works, and the oven light comes on when I turn the oven on, but the oven element does not come on. Is it possible for just one element to go out?

3) The toaster oven appears to work when I turn it on - the light comes on - but there is no heat, so that element too, appears to be "toast" (hey I still have a sense of humor at least!). Does it make sense for the power on lights to work and the heating element not to work, on such a small item??

4) I've not finished testing my TV/stereo equipment yet, but there is definitely a problem. I think it may be just the receiver that got wacked, but I can't tell just yet. All the video seems to work fine, but there is no audio. Oh, also the VCR got fried - it was flashing a strange error light and I had to uplug it to get it to turn off (hardly used, so not much of a loss I guess).

My computer was fine...but I use a UPS for that purpose. No internet, but I think that is the provider....at least I hope.

So, in addition to the questions above (not sure if anyone here can answer them ) what is the next step that I should take? Should I have an electrician come out and check this stuff? I am completely clueless where electrical stuff is concerned.

Thanks for any advice!
 
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Old 07-05-11, 11:05 AM
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My first call would be to my insurance company
 
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Old 07-05-11, 11:07 AM
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The first thing you should probably do is call your insurance company so they have a record of the lightning strike. Depending on the company they may also send someone out to survey the damage. After that it's a matter of having things repaired in keeping a record of the costs of the repairs. You probably also want to have an expert look at the tree to assure its long-term health.
 
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Old 07-05-11, 11:17 AM
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With a strike that close, anything that has a circuit board in it (especially with a receiver or transmitter) is potentially toast. With the appliances I would suspect that it's more likely the heating element controller than the heating element itself.

Your wiring itself inside the walls is probably okay, but anything that was plugged in is suspect. GFCI receptacles and breakers could be toast.

I agree with the other posters that you should consult with your insurance agent to see if they are willing to pay for appliance replacement or repair service. If the electronics are high-end it might be worth it to contact a repairman, but often the bench fee is more expensive than just buying a new item.
 
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Old 07-05-11, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by mitch17 View Post
My first call would be to my insurance company
Gee thanks. Yes, I have done that. They make no recomendations as far as having an electician check things out, or how a GFI outlet should work after a strike.
Obviously I have some things that will need to be replaced....I'm not asking about THAT. I just wanted an opinion from the electrical/safety perspective, so I thought I should give as much information as possible.
 
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Old 07-05-11, 11:41 AM
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I didn't know how comfortable you would be testing things so that's what I based my first reply on. As the previous poster stated the biggest potential for damage is to electronics. The heating elements in your toaster oven and regular oven are probably OK, you can easily just disconnects them and to check their resistance with a meter to be sure. Without wiring diagrams there probably is the whole lot you can do with the garage door opener yourself except to insure it has power. It doesn't appear that you actually have any electrical problems with your home wiring from your description with the possible exception of the GFCI (and that appears to be OK) so you really don't need to call electrician. You probably need to call a garage door company to look at the opener and a appliance company to look at the oven. The toaster oven and stereo equipment are obviously small enough to take in for repair. Actually the toaster oven probably isn't worth repairing and should just be replaced if the element is OK.
 
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Old 07-05-11, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Msradell View Post
The first thing you should probably do is call your insurance company so they have a record of the lightning strike. Depending on the company they may also send someone out to survey the damage. After that it's a matter of having things repaired in keeping a record of the costs of the repairs. You probably also want to have an expert look at the tree to assure its long-term health.
Thank you. Yes, I am still working with the insurance company so that is in progress. I just didn't know if we were talking repairs, or replacement. I'm sort of guessing that it will be replacement, but I don't know. The tree is a river birch, and from what I have been told, since it is a multi-trunk tree, is could possibly survive. Frankly I wouldn't mind if one trunk died, but we'll see. I haven't actually had a good look at it in the light, I'll do that when I get home from work I guess.
 
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Old 07-05-11, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by ibpooks View Post
With a strike that close, anything that has a circuit board in it (especially with a receiver or transmitter) is potentially toast. With the appliances I would suspect that it's more likely the heating element controller than the heating element itself.

Your wiring itself inside the walls is probably okay, but anything that was plugged in is suspect. GFCI receptacles and breakers could be toast.

I agree with the other posters that you should consult with your insurance agent to see if they are willing to pay for appliance replacement or repair service. If the electronics are high-end it might be worth it to contact a repairman, but often the bench fee is more expensive than just buying a new item.
The insurance claim is still in progress...they are supposed to call me back later today. I did find out that I have replacement cost on my policy, so that is good. They have not mentioned repairs, so I am assuming that these things will have to be replaced. The oven is from 1994, and so is the garage door opener. I have no idea what they will cost to replace, but I guess I'll find out. I am hoping that they do send someone out...maybe he would know about the breakers and receptacles.
 
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Old 07-05-11, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Msradell View Post
I didn't know how comfortable you would be testing things so that's what I based my first reply on. As the previous poster stated the biggest potential for damage is to electronics. The heating elements in your toaster oven and regular oven are probably OK, you can easily just disconnects them and to check their resistance with a meter to be sure. Without wiring diagrams there probably is the whole lot you can do with the garage door opener yourself except to insure it has power. It doesn't appear that you actually have any electrical problems with your home wiring from your description with the possible exception of the GFCI (and that appears to be OK) so you really don't need to call electrician. You probably need to call a garage door company to look at the opener and a appliance company to look at the oven. The toaster oven and stereo equipment are obviously small enough to take in for repair. Actually the toaster oven probably isn't worth repairing and should just be replaced if the element is OK.
Thank you very much for that information! So, you think that the oven element is actually okay? That would be great news. Nothing that I can do myself though...to get it to start working? What kind of meter do I need to test it? As far as the opener, this would be the 2nd time that I've lost one to a nearby strike. I guess they must be fairly succeptable to damage.
 
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Old 07-05-11, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by yardnut View Post
Thank you very much for that information! So, you think that the oven element is actually okay? That would be great news. Nothing that I can do myself though...to get it to start working? What kind of meter do I need to test it? As far as the opener, this would be the 2nd time that I've lost one to a nearby strike. I guess they must be fairly succeptable to damage.
The problem is is the element is OK if the problem is with the electronics of the oven. To test the element you need a digital or analog meter to check the resistance. If it's bad it will be open circuit, same goes for the toaster oven key element.
 
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Old 07-05-11, 12:39 PM
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S ince the gfi doesn't test, it needs to be replaced. It only costs ten bucks for a new one.
 
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Old 07-05-11, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by yardnut View Post
They make no recomendations as far as having an electician check things out, or how a GFI outlet should work after a strike.
Ahh okay. The wiring in the walls and the standard breakers are probably okay. GFCI breaker or AFCI breakers can be damaged by lightning. These can be distinguished from regular breakers because they will have a "TEST" button in addition to the normal on-trip-off toggle switch. If you do have any of this style of breaker, press the TEST button and make sure the breaker trips off. If you can then switch it completely off and then back on, the breaker passes the test and is safe to continue using.

Do a similar procedure with GFCI receptacles. Plug in a lamp, press the test button and verify the lamp goes out, press reset and verify it comes back on. If you can do a full cycle the GFCI receptacle passes the test. If not, it must be replaced. Note that newer GFCI receptacles will completely lock themselves out if they detect damage so you might not get any power through at all.

The other major electrical system to check is your hardwired smoke detectors if you have them. Press the test button at each station to make sure that unit works and can signal to all the other units in the house.

I'd give about 100% odds the garage door opener is toast; that's one of the first casualties of lightning due to the built in RF receiver. Along those line you also will want to do a full checkout of your heat and air conditioner. Furnace control boards (which also sometimes control the AC) are common casualties of lightning.
 
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Old 07-05-11, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by ibpooks View Post
Ahh okay. The wiring in the walls and the standard breakers are probably okay. GFCI breaker or AFCI breakers can be damaged by lightning. These can be distinguished from regular breakers because they will have a "TEST" button in addition to the normal on-trip-off toggle switch. If you do have any of this style of breaker, press the TEST button and make sure the breaker trips off. If you can then switch it completely off and then back on, the breaker passes the test and is safe to continue using.

Do a similar procedure with GFCI receptacles. Plug in a lamp, press the test button and verify the lamp goes out, press reset and verify it comes back on. If you can do a full cycle the GFCI receptacle passes the test. If not, it must be replaced. Note that newer GFCI receptacles will completely lock themselves out if they detect damage so you might not get any power through at all.

The other major electrical system to check is your hardwired smoke detectors if you have them. Press the test button at each station to make sure that unit works and can signal to all the other units in the house.

I'd give about 100% odds the garage door opener is toast; that's one of the first casualties of lightning due to the built in RF receiver. Along those line you also will want to do a full checkout of your heat and air conditioner. Furnace control boards (which also sometimes control the AC) are common casualties of lightning.

Yeah I have 2 GFCI receptacles that I cannot get to reset/click on & off...I'll try them again tonight - I didn't know exactly how to test them, but you answered that for me. I don't have any breakers like that, just receptacles.

Also - thanks on the A/C check recommendation. I have a new system, less than a year old, and I am due for my free checkup, so I will have them check that out!

And thanks too for the note about the smoke detectors!! Will do!!! I apreciate your help!!
 
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Old 07-05-11, 02:41 PM
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Yeah I have 2 GFCI receptacles that I cannot get to trip off
That;s a test.

.............
 
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Old 07-05-11, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
That;s a test.

.............
Well I sort of thought that, but I didn't have anything plugged into it...I just pressed the test in, and then hit reset to pop it out. All the other GFCI receptacles in my house will behave in that manner...except the one in the garage, and one of the kitchen outlets. But I'll double-check again, tonight. Thanks everyone!
 
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Old 07-05-11, 06:20 PM
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Along those line you also will want to do a full checkout of your heat and air conditioner. Furnace control boards (which also sometimes control the AC) are common casualties of lightning.
Good advice. Also, don't forget things like refrigerators and freezers which have electronics in them too if they aren't too old. If you have any dimming controls for your lighting, check them out too. You still might need a service call from an electrician.
 
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Old 07-06-11, 07:07 AM
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One appliance at a time, try out all the features as if you just bought the appliance. This way you can make a list of anything that does not work more easily.

A lightning strike can damage wiring inside the walls or exacerbate any loose connections where the wires daisy chain from one outlet to the next. You wqould need professional help to prove any damage to wires inside the walls butyou can make a reasonable test on your own. At various outlets about the house plug a hair dryer into one half of the receptacle and an incandescent light into the other half. Check for proper operation and also not a noticeable continuous dim of the light when you turn on the hair dryer for about one minute.

Electrical know how and perhaps time spent disassembling is needed to examine a stove to find out why just the oven is not working, or examine a toaster oven (often not worth a serviceman's fee) to find out whether it is the element or the controller that is fried.

Because the lightning bolt hit so close (within 50 feet) there is high likelihood of damage to electronic equipment, including equipment not plugged in and including electronic equipment in cars, caused by an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) which is given off by a lightning bolt. This causes "phantom voltages" (induced voltages) inside circuitry and in the case of the EMP those phantom voltages can be large.
 
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Old 07-06-11, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
One appliance at a time, try out all the features as if you just bought the appliance. This way you can make a list of anything that does not work more easily.

A lightning strike can damage wiring inside the walls or exacerbate any loose connections where the wires daisy chain from one outlet to the next. You wqould need professional help to prove any damage to wires inside the walls butyou can make a reasonable test on your own. At various outlets about the house plug a hair dryer into one half of the receptacle and an incandescent light into the other half. Check for proper operation and also not a noticeable continuous dim of the light when you turn on the hair dryer for about one minute.

Electrical know how and perhaps time spent disassembling is needed to examine a stove to find out why just the oven is not working, or examine a toaster oven (often not worth a serviceman's fee) to find out whether it is the element or the controller that is fried.

Because the lightning bolt hit so close (within 50 feet) there is high likelihood of damage to electronic equipment, including equipment not plugged in and including electronic equipment in cars, caused by an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) which is given off by a lightning bolt. This causes "phantom voltages" (induced voltages) inside circuitry and in the case of the EMP those phantom voltages can be large.
Yes, this is getting to be a rather huge job now. I have to carry my stereo components in today to see what is working and what is not...well, I actually know THAT...but the insurance company wants a written statement of damage assessment before they will replace or repair anything. In the meantime, I have no oven, no garage door opener, no TV...really ticks me off. I think the insurance company should have to handle this crap. Sorry...guess that sounds whiney!
 
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Old 07-06-11, 11:37 AM
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I've had cases where garage door openers get fried due to ground potential difference. Usually the rails of the garage door are grounded, which can be at a different potential as the power service ground. This is solved by running a minimum #6 AWG insulated copper wire from the garage door rails to the power service ground rod. Since this is the 2nd time it has gotten fried, it's possible this is the cause.

Good luck with the insurance company. They really drag their feet when they have to pay up.
 
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Old 07-06-11, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by dzdave00 View Post
I've had cases where garage door openers get fried due to ground potential difference. Usually the rails of the garage door are grounded, which can be at a different potential as the power service ground. This is solved by running a minimum #6 AWG insulated copper wire from the garage door rails to the power service ground rod. Since this is the 2nd time it has gotten fried, it's possible this is the cause.
If you're going to do this I would assume you would have to interconnect the two rails for the door as well as the track for the opener itself? Considering they are not connected together except through the wheels in most cases and the door itself could be wood, fiberglass or aluminum. How many doors actually are done this way? I would assume very few.
 
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Old 07-06-11, 01:15 PM
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The rails are already connected together, so just connect to one rail. You're right this is very rarely done. But if lightning is taking out the opener due to close strikes, that is when it is done.
 
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Old 07-06-11, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by dzdave00 View Post
The rails are already connected together, so just connect to one rail. You're right this is very rarely done. But if lightning is taking out the opener due to close strikes, that is when it is done.
The only way my rails are connected together is through the door, there's nothing else connecting them nor anything connecting them to the rail of the opener.
 
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Old 07-06-11, 01:29 PM
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Oh, ok. So you run a wire from each rail and connect them both to the power service ground.
 
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Old 07-06-11, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by yardnut View Post
Yes, this is getting to be a rather huge job now. I have to carry my stereo components in today to see what is working and what is not...well, I actually know THAT...but the insurance company wants a written statement of damage assessment before they will replace or repair anything. In the meantime, I have no oven, no garage door opener, no TV...really ticks me off. I think the insurance company should have to handle this crap. Sorry...guess that sounds whiney!
The oven is a bummer, the door opener is a minor inconvenience and the TV is a blessing.
 
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Old 07-06-11, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by dzdave00 View Post
I've had cases where garage door openers get fried due to ground potential difference. Usually the rails of the garage door are grounded, which can be at a different potential as the power service ground. This is solved by running a minimum #6 AWG insulated copper wire from the garage door rails to the power service ground rod. Since this is the 2nd time it has gotten fried, it's possible this is the cause.

Good luck with the insurance company. They really drag their feet when they have to pay up.
No, this is not the second time it has gotten fried. It's the second time that I have lost one due to a lightning strike...but it was a completely different home in a different city - a townhouse in fact. I've been in this house for 12 years, and never had a problem with it until now.
 
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Old 07-06-11, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Furd View Post
The oven is a bummer, the door opener is a minor inconvenience and the TV is a blessing.
Not to me. That, and the oven, are the 2 things that matter the most to me.
 
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Old 07-10-11, 03:54 PM
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I had a garage door opener fry due to a significant surge. Opened it up and just had to replace the MOVs (disc-looking surge protectors inside which were charred). It was a $5 replacement that needed to be ordered from the manufacturer. If you open it up and see the circuit board charred, you're probably better off replacing the whole opener.

Depending on how 'digital' your oven is, it could just be a $100-$200 control board (or maybe less if not too digital)
 
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Old 07-10-11, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Zorfdt View Post
I had a garage door opener fry due to a significant surge. Opened it up and just had to replace the MOVs (disc-looking surge protectors inside which were charred). It was a $5 replacement that needed to be ordered from the manufacturer. If you open it up and see the circuit board charred, you're probably better off replacing the whole opener.

Depending on how 'digital' your oven is, it could just be a $100-$200 control board (or maybe less if not too digital)
I've already got a Chamberlain on the way. HD is going to install it.

As far as the oven, the repairman said it needed a new element, and a new clock. He can get the element, but don't know about the clock yet. If I have to get a new one, that would actually be great - the thing is 17 years old...as old as the house. I'd love a new one.
 
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Old 07-10-11, 05:02 PM
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I had this happen to a customer a while back when I worked at a computer store. His Power supply had cooked (among other appliances etc) and the rest of the machine worked but we wrote him a note stating his warranty was void and we could not guarantee the PC anymore. Guess what; the insurance company had to buy him a new one and so they should. I'd honestly recommend just getting new anywhere something has been damaged. It's on insurance anyways and you don't know what extra damage is still lurking or fire safety issues. Things like burnt insulation inside appliances etc.
 
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Old 07-10-11, 05:50 PM
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I worked for a woodshop that had a fire. They wound up hiring their own insurance adjuster to figure out what their loss was vs. what the insurance company's adjuster claimed. The private adjuster works by a percentage of what the insurance company pays out. I don't know how much damage you have, but it may be worth the fee to have someone like that come in and figure out exactly what you have is damaged. They are also in a better position to argue for your claim.

I also know a website that is helpful for appliance repair. It usually takes a day to get a response to your post, but could be handy. Send me a private message if you are interested.
 
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Old 07-18-11, 09:05 PM
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Well I just discovered yet one more thing that does not work. The motion lights outside above my garage. I just noticed that they were both out last week, and got some new bulbs today...and of course, they don't work. Now I am a little worried. When the guys put the new garage door opener in this past Friday, they found some bad wiring that went to the opener button just outside the kitchen door. (The main wiring in the ceiling was fine - but the other wiring to the button at my kitchen door had to be replaced.) So....I thinking that this could be the case with the lights as well? Or is it more likely that it simply fried?

I'm wondering how exactly to voice my concern about this to the insurance company. After this lightning strike, I wanted to have an electrician come in and inspect everything, but the insurance guy said that they don't pay for that. So...if I go buy a new light, and put it in, and it still doesn't work...dang...I have no idea what to do then. Man is this a PITA.

.
 
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Old 07-18-11, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by yardnut View Post
Well I just discovered yet one more thing that does not work. The motion lights outside above my garage. I just noticed that they were both out last week, and got some new bulbs today...and of course, they don't work. Now I am a little worried. When the guys put the new garage door opener in this past Friday, they found some bad wiring that went to the opener button just outside the kitchen door. (The main wiring in the ceiling was fine - but the other wiring to the button at my kitchen door had to be replaced.) So....I thinking that this could be the case with the lights as well? Or is it more likely that it simply fried?

I'm wondering how exactly to voice my concern about this to the insurance company. After this lightning strike, I wanted to have an electrician come in and inspect everything, but the insurance guy said that they don't pay for that. So...if I go buy a new light, and put it in, and it still doesn't work...dang...I have no idea what to do then. Man is this a PITA.

.
That is about the lamest excuse what the Insurance companie try to do that and I have dealt alot of them for many years and some are good and some are full of Connries.,,

A good electrician can able spot quite few items what the Insurance compaine did not stated like the last house I work on which it did got hit by lighting and at first the insurance compaine refuse to hire the electrician so we took that matter to the court { the building/electrical inspector did help me and back me up on this matter } and finally the insurance compaine did pay my time and repairs it was pretty good items what insurance companine won't pay full of the items I listed but the court order them to pay us in full to get the house restored.

So expect some " battle " with insurance compaine I went thru few of them.

And it very important to make couple copys of photo what it show damage and the repair bills if you have them. { you may need it again when the insurance compaine bulked at you }

Merci,
Marc
 
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Old 07-19-11, 09:02 AM
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The motion sensors have a circut board in them which probably got fried.
 
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