Hot Topics: When Lightning Strikes

Lightning strikes a complex.

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Original post: Lightning Strike and Some Weird Issues

cdogstu99 Member

Today we got some serious thunder and lightning in the Boston area. At one point during the day, there was a huge boom and it sounded like a lightning bolt hit our house.

The power didn't go off but my wife and I smelled a burning smell. Also, my router and another piece of equipment were fried (even though plugged into a power surge protector).

Now I have one fuse in my house which controls some lights in my living room that will not stop tripping. Someone told me to unplug everything in the room and to reset the fuse, but it did not help.

And the even weirder thing is that I just noticed that there is black residue in several toilets in the house.

See picture attached.

I'm stumped. Any ideas?

A toilet with grime.

pugsl Forum Topic Moderator

Try to trace smell to an area, maybe an electrical box. If near a box, pull the cover and outlet out and see if wires or connections are burnt. I would start near the router. Lighting may have hit a vent pipe on the roof.

pcboss Forum Topic Moderator

You may need to get someone to come in and megger the wiring for insulation breakdown.

cdogstu99 Member

Try to trace smell to an area, maybe an electrical box. If near a box, pull the cover and outlet out and see if wires or connections are burnt. I would start near the router. Lighting may have hit a vent pipe on roof.

I think you might be onto something. Don't remember what these vent pipes looked like before, but it looks like they might have been fried.

What do you think my next course of action should be? Is this dangerous?

A fried PVC pipe on a roof.

pcboss Forum Topic Moderator

Those pipes look like PVC.

Tolyn Ironhand Group Moderator

They also look like they might be for a furnace. Most vents I have seen just go straight up out of the roof with no 90-degree elbows.

Lighting will destroy many things often at random. I suspect the circuit breaker that will not reset is bad and needs to be replaced.

AllanJ Member

You probably had wiring or cables fried with hot to neutral, hot to hot (240 volt), or hot to ground shorting due to melted insulation.

Nothing including common surge suppressors will protect against a direct lightning strike.

A surge suppressor by itself does not trip or blow so as to cut off the power. After the surge, the circuit is still complete unless something else tripped or blew or melted or burned out.

cdogstu99 Member

Thanks for that. So should I have someone come in to "megger?"

Any idea how it could end up in the water though?

Zorfdt Forum Topic Moderator

That's interesting, I have had equipment fried due to a nearby lightning strike (tree 20 feet from the house), but have never seen anything quite like that in the toilets. I'm trying to think of what might cause black soot, but there's no carbon in water, nor in the porcelain.

Interesting. Now I'm curious!

pugsl Forum Topic Moderator

Not sure but I think even PVC will conduct a lightning strike. Maybe something in the pipe fried and ended up in the toilet.

Geochurchi Member

Hi, have you contacted your insurance company? They may have suggestions on how to proceed. As you can see, lightning shows no mercy. You could try replacing the breaker or swapping the conductor from the bad one to another one to test.

ibpooks Forum Topic Moderator

The water service entrance pipe is used as a grounding electrode (ground rod) in most residential installations.

Wild guess: if you had a nearby lightning strike the huge blast of current might have caused some rust on the inside of the pipes to come loose either through an electrochemical process or a physical jolt.

I agree that this is a potential lightning strike and you should probably have this checked out by an electrical contractor, probably open a claim with the insurance company, and given the involvement of water system, a plumber and/or the city water department. A "megger" is a tester that can determine if insulation or wiring in the walls was damaged due to lightning. This is a specialized test that should only be done by an electrician as the equipment is expensive and needs to be used in a precise way.

cdogstu99 Member

That's interesting to know.

I have a $1,000 deductible on my insurance, but I just filed a claim to see what they say.

We just noticed the storm not only fried our router but our washing machine as well. This was a doozy!

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