Lightning strike causes havoc

It was a dark and stormy morning.

The sounds of the thunderstorm woke me. A glance at the clock showed it was 5 a.m. Suddenly, a bright burst of light flashed, followed by a boom that shook the house.

The kids leapt from their beds screaming. As they ran for our bedroom, the smoke detectors in the hall began emitting an ear-piercing, non-stop series of beeps. This only increased the kids’ panic.

“The house is not on fire,” my husband said as I tired to reassure them everything was okay.

No, the house wasn’t on fire. Instead, lightning struck really close to our house or possibly even hit it.

It wasn’t until later that we would realize all the damage that lightning strike did. As it was, some of the power was out in several rooms and all of the GCFI electrical outlets were tripped. To get the smoke detectors to stop, my husband had to disconnect them from the ceiling.

As the storm died down, the kids returned to their rooms. It was getting close to time for me to get up so I didn’t go back to bed. Instead, I turned on the TV to see if the morning news was covering the storm, but the satellite was out. I didn’t think much about it as it often goes out during heavy rain.

It wasn’t until I was fixing breakfast that I noticed the thermostat wasn’t working. About this time, my husband realized our internet was down.

So instead of going to work, he spent the morning calling repair men. We scheduled the satellite repairman for the next morning. (The dish on the roof and two boxes inside were destroyed.) Our internet provider determined our internet router was damaged and overnighted us another one. We called the A/C repair company and they had a technician in the area who came right over to look at the thermostat.

As we waited for him, we made a list of other damage. Our big screen TV, the garage door opener, two of our computer monitors and my husband’s 3D printer were all damaged by the power surge. Most of these items did not have surge protectors though the TV did and was still damaged.

The A/C repairman replaced the thermostat and then checked the inside unit. The circuit board was damaged. He replaced that and then realized the circuit board on the outside unit was was also fried. After replacing that one, he noted that the coolant levels were a little low and suggested we have it tested when it was warmer outside and not raining. He left and by now we had paid $3,500 in repairs.

By this time, my husband had called our house insurance company to file a claim for damages. It wasn’t until the next morning that we realized the air condition wasn’t coming on. The house thermostat said 78 for the downstairs which means the upstairs was even warmer. It was cooler outside, so we opened up the windows and waited for the repairman to return.

He inspected the rest of the system, including climbing into our attic where he noticed the copper pipe that takes the coolant from the outside unit to the inside unit was damaged. We would need the whole line replaced – at the tune of $3700. But the kicker was that they couldn’t repair it until Monday. That meant 2 days without the A/C. And yes, in Texas there is a good chance we could need the A/C in February. Here the weather can be 40 degrees one day and then 80 by the weekend. Luckily for us the temps weren’t scheduled to get that high for the next few days.

We went out and bought a new garage door opener and a new big screen TV. Another $1000 gone. My husband ordered new monitors. More money gone.

As it stands right now, we have spent $9000 on repairs and replacement items and have yet to replace the 3D printer which should be about $500. (Luckily the satellite and intent repairs cost us nothing.) And we are still finding problems. The internet keeps going off and on and a repairman is coming to check to see if the wires are damaged.

The insurance company wants the whole electrical system checked out and is willing to reimburse us the cost. We had heard that insurance companies sometimes were reluctant to pay out on what is considered a ground lightning strike but so far our insurance company seems willing to work with us. Hopefully soon everything will return back to normal.

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