Powerful lightning storms rolled through on Christmas Eve day. Strike after strike kept rumbling the house all morning long. After eight a.m. or so it seemed to calm down and stopped raining so hard as well. About an hour or so later it picked back up again. That’s when the house itself got hit.
There was loud crack and the whole house shook and a second later the thunderclap nearly deafened us. Some of the lights went out but not all of them. At the breaker panel four breakers had tripped. One wouldn’t reset at all. The kitchen outlets came back on without an issue. The kitchen lights wouldn’t come back on but the breaker was good so I assumed the dimmer switch got fried. It had. The lights were okay.
The basement circuit wouldn’t come back on and the breaker kept tripping. I assumed it was a motion sensor but it turned out to be good. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was.
The router went down. The television bit the dust. The vent hood fan and lights were dead.
After it stopped raining I went outside. Down at the fish pond I noticed that the extension cord to the pump was unplugged. Upon closer inspection I saw that it was actually in pieces. I walked up to the house were the other end of the cord had been plugged into an outlet in the wall. The cord was out and the socket was blown out of the wall. Now I knew why the breaker kept tripping.
The outlet was blown to pieces.
The current from the lightning had come in somewhere and gone out through the extension cord. The end of the cord was physically the lowest point and the surge followed it all the way down. Luckily it shot the pump plug out of the cord and didn’t electrocute the fish.
It apparently induced enough current to run backwards up the circuits that the tv, router, and vent hood were on. Nearly everything d.c. bought the farm. The router transformer was plugged into a surge protector but it didn’t save it. The vent hood fan, I hope, has a fuse protecting it but I’m still trying to find the manual to it.
I replaced the dimmer switch to the kitchen lights today and they work now. I had to get another router so that’s now up and running again. We have an old television that we set up in front of the dead one. The Roku wasn’t hurt. The modem wasn’t hurt.
I put another outlet on the outside and when I flipped the breaker it kicked itself off again. It’s a middle of the run box but I cannot figure out where the outgoing run goes to.
When I disconnected the outlet everything inside worked fine and there was power at the box. I thought that the run away from the box might be powering something upstairs but everything had power so I don’t know where it leads.
I connected the box and left it as an end of run outlet. So I’m limping the fish pump along for now with two short extension cords. I bought a new exterior box and outlet today.
I don’t know how many tens of thousands of volts went to ground through that extension cord, but it fried it. I do know that those 14 gauge ground wires that are wired up to all the boxes are fine for 110volts but when lightning strikes your house it will go wherever it wants to and those tiny ground wires don’t stand the slightest chance of directing that massive amount of current.
I literally felt the house’s foundation shake like an earthquake. I couldn’t find a strike on any tree nearby but I’m still looking. My little dog didn’t stop shaking for an hour. It could have been worse. I think we were pretty lucky to come out with as little damage as we did.