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Old 08-14-2012, 04:05 PM   #1
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Electrical Surges keep damaging appliances


Hello. I have a Samsung Plasma TV (new) and an Onkyo home theater system that are hooked up along with a DVR. Everything was working fine last night. Today, things aren't working as expected. Troubleshooting shows that the HDMI input section on the TV is probably bad and the amp has some HDMI problems as well.

The thing is - this isn't the first time it's happened. Every time we get a storm where lightning is relatively close, (I say close because we have not been struck directly) we get a problem like this. One time it was the icemaker. One time it was the block coming into the back of the stove, which was severely melted.

A "whole house" surge protector doesn't seem to work. First of all, GA Power doesn't have any liability for lightning damage, and the surge would have to come directly through the unit anyway. Since the lightning strikes are not direct and may only be causing a minor surge through some other means, I can't pinpoint anything. I have 1080 joule surge protectors on both the TV and the amp.

This is really bothersome. The result of the problems are diagnosable and repairs are made, but it drives me crazy that any time we get a storm something might get zapped. Any thoughts on this?
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Old 08-14-2012, 04:07 PM   #2
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Electrical Surges keep damaging appliances


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Originally Posted by stout71 View Post
Hello. I have a Samsung Plasma TV (new) and an Onkyo home theater system that are hooked up along with a DVR. Everything was working fine last night. Today, things aren't working as expected. Troubleshooting shows that the HDMI input section on the TV is probably bad and the amp has some HDMI problems as well.

The thing is - this isn't the first time it's happened. Every time we get a storm where lightning is relatively close, (I say close because we have not been struck directly) we get a problem like this. One time it was the icemaker. One time it was the block coming into the back of the stove, which was severely melted.

A "whole house" surge protector doesn't seem to work. First of all, GA Power doesn't have any liability for lightning damage, and the surge would have to come directly through the unit anyway. Since the lightning strikes are not direct and may only be causing a minor surge through some other means, I can't pinpoint anything. I have 1080 joule surge protectors on both the TV and the amp.

This is really bothersome. The result of the problems are diagnosable and repairs are made, but it drives me crazy that any time we get a storm something might get zapped. Any thoughts on this?
Get really good insurance.
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Old 08-14-2012, 04:25 PM   #3
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Electrical Surges keep damaging appliances


You may need to unplug your electronics (not use them) during thunderstorms. Also unhook the cable TV or satellite TV cable from the first piece of indoor equipment it connects to.

Are you sure you don't have any other electrical problems such as loose connections? Put incandescent bulbs in a few light fixtures and turn them on for a few hours every so often, including during storms. Do you observe any "random" dimming or brightening? Brightening points out an issue that needs immediate attention; the neutral line is broken or loose somewhere.
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Old 08-14-2012, 05:35 PM   #4
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Electrical Surges keep damaging appliances


I would check to ensure all you utilities are tied to the same ground rod at the point of entry to the home. The bonding should be a hefty wire and not some skinny 22 gauge wire either.

Set top boxes and TV's cross connect two or three utilities into a common box. If there is improper grounding of one utility the ground bounce can damage the electronics through unintended return paths.

If your utilities enter the house on different faces of home then you have problems because even if they share the same ground point outside they are vastly different line runs.

A secondary safety measure is one of these power terminal strips outlets that also pass through your phone line (satellite) and TV coax. While they are sold for the internal surge suppression the real value is it unifies the grounding of these devices at a common point before the electronics. Of course this terminal strip must be plugged into a three prong (grounded outlet).
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Old 08-14-2012, 05:53 PM   #5
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Electrical Surges keep damaging appliances


It sounds like your grounding and bonding is probably not very good. Without examining your home's electrical system in detail it's hard to say exactly where the problem is, but a properly set up grounding system and good bonding of all utilities and all electronic equipment usually provides fairly good protection from nearby lightning strikes.

The key points are:
- Water pipe entrance, gas pipe entrance, cable TV, and telephone all should be bonded to the electrical system's ground in close proximity to the electrical service entrance.
- Utility neutral bonded to the electrical grounding bus in the main panel or meter base, and nowhere else.
- Two ground rods or other approved grounding electrodes near the service entrance, connected to the grounding bus.
- Every circuit properly grounded.
- Equipment connected with cords and power strips with proper grounding; no broken or missing ground prongs.
- Surge protectors for sensitive equipment.

If I had to guess, I'd say part of your problem is a lack of proper bonding of the cable TV or phone service to the electrical system's grounding bus.
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Old 08-14-2012, 06:12 PM   #6
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Electrical Surges keep damaging appliances


I'm no pro, but a loose neutral at the panel took out my dishwasher electronics twice before I found it (by accident.)
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Old 08-14-2012, 06:12 PM   #7
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Electrical Surges keep damaging appliances


Just another example. My son's computer fried. He is a computer techie and traced the problem to be an ungrounded receiver for line of sight inter net. The surge came through the device and the router and destroyed the computer. The specs for the receiver dish said it must have it's own ground rod but, the installers never do it and the service providers would not take responsibility. Luckily my son managed to build a new computer at a low cost, So, these types of devices require very good grounding.
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Old 08-14-2012, 06:55 PM   #8
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Electrical Surges keep damaging appliances


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Just another example. My son's computer fried. He is a computer techie and traced the problem to be an ungrounded receiver for line of sight inter net. The surge came through the device and the router and destroyed the computer. The specs for the receiver dish said it must have it's own ground rod but, the installers never do it and the service providers would not take responsibility. Luckily my son managed to build a new computer at a low cost, So, these types of devices require very good grounding.
It's own ground rod is totally unnecessary, and it's required to be bonded to the building's equipment grounding system anyway. All that's needed is a proper connection to the grounding bus in the panel, assuming the electrical system is properly set up to begin with.
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Old 08-14-2012, 06:58 PM   #9
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Electrical Surges keep damaging appliances


You can improve the operation of your electronic equipment and also reduce power surge problems by running an extra ground wire yourself. Use a 12 or 14 gauge bare wire and daisy chain it from one piece of equipment to another. Fasten the wire using a screw that penetrates to the equipment chassis or a collar that fits over the shell of one of the round input or output jacks. Connect the far end of the wire to the electrical grounding system from the panel (grounding electrode system) namely one of the fat ground wires running from the panel to a ground rod or water pipe.

If another ground rod is driven, it should be connected to previously driven ground rods using #6 copper wire. Code requires enough ground rods to establish a 25 ohm or less resistance with the earth (difficult to measure) or two eight-foot rods whichever comes first.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 08-14-2012 at 07:06 PM.
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Old 08-14-2012, 07:31 PM   #10
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Electrical Surges keep damaging appliances


Guys:

Thanks for all the input and suggestions. It's all very helpful (sans the comment about getting good insurance).

If these kind of things are the culprits, would an electrician need to come out and do the dirtywork, or could part of the problem be with the utility company's stuff as it connects up with my home?
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Old 08-14-2012, 09:37 PM   #11
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Electrical Surges keep damaging appliances


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Guys:

Thanks for all the input and suggestions. It's all very helpful (sans the comment about getting good insurance).

If these kind of things are the culprits, would an electrician need to come out and do the dirtywork, or could part of the problem be with the utility company's stuff as it connects up with my home?
It's almost certainly your problem. The one problem the utility company can have that will damage your equipment is a loose neutral, and the symptoms you describe are not consistent with this. All the grounding and bonding stuff is your responsibility.

It's worth noting that many electricians (probably most in residential work) do not really understand grounding and bonding very well and may not know how to solve your problems, even though they think they do.
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Old 08-14-2012, 10:00 PM   #12
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Electrical Surges keep damaging appliances


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Originally Posted by stout71 View Post
Guys:

Thanks for all the input and suggestions. It's all very helpful (sans the comment about getting good insurance).

If these kind of things are the culprits, would an electrician need to come out and do the dirtywork, or could part of the problem be with the utility company's stuff as it connects up with my home?
My joke was funny... and seriously... it was made with the intent, that without seeing your situation unseen, my comment was as fair game as anyone else's with the same description of your issue. Meaning in simple terms, without actually looking at the structure, any advice given to you was just a guess...
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Old 08-14-2012, 10:01 PM   #13
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It's worth noting that many electricians (probably most in residential work) do not really understand grounding and bonding very well and may not know how to solve your problems, even though they think they do.
I resent this, because simply, you have educated, and uneducated electricians... and that's the bottom line. and I am a residential electrician by the way.
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Last edited by stickboy1375; 08-14-2012 at 10:07 PM.
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Old 08-14-2012, 10:24 PM   #14
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Electrical Surges keep damaging appliances


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I have 1080 joule surge protectors on both the TV and the amp.
remember the best surge protector doesnt do anything without a ground to push surges into. if the surge proterctor is plugged into a 2 prong receptacle with a cheater plug for example, it wont help you

also, whole house surge protectors are great if installed properly and the system is properly grounded

for reference, the system i set up to protect my stuff:

1. panel mounted whole house surge protector (Cutler Hammer)
2. antenna mast bonded to ground rod system
3. antenna coax cable goes through grounding block just outside the house (bonded to antenna mast) and through a high-end surge protector in the house
4. phone network interface is bonded to the panel. in addition, phone line is run through an APC UPS before going to internet router
5. all tvs/computer stuff protected with UPS or high end surge protector
6. panel bonded to overkill ground rod system (lets just say more than 2 and bigger wire than #6)
7. panel bonded to copper plumbing with #4awg copper wire within 5 feet of house entrance including meter jump
8. rewired whole house with #12 wire on all 15A and 20A circuits, including a #12 EGC

lightning strikes here constantly in Missouri (always close but never had a direct hit). nothing ever gets fried or even skips a beat. All of the above except #8 cost less than five hundred bucks.

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Old 08-14-2012, 10:55 PM   #15
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I resent this, because simply, you have educated, and uneducated electricians... and that's the bottom line. and I am a residential electrician by the way.
Just because you're good at your job doesn't make your competition any smarter. You're right: there are uneducated electricians out there. Plenty of them. Many of them seem to do residential because they can get by with a minimal understanding of electricity, while commercial (especially industrial) work simply cannot be done without real knowledge. That doesn't mean you're incompetent just because you do residential work... but you might have more fun in industrial!
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