Lightning – surge

I think lighting damaged my electronics?

Surging is associated with lightning damage and is often the cause of electrical items failing at your property. A recent research showed back in 2016 homeowner’s insurance claims cost insurance companies over $825 million with more than 100,000 lightning claims. Homes have become more technical with all the modern components that power properties now more than ever. More than ever surging and lightning are on the rise and more of our money is poured into these sophisticated electrical devices. We will continue to have advances in these types of electrical components and we all stand to lose our investments to lighting and surging.

Could lightning damage to electronics?

Lightning typically damages electronics in two possible ways. Direct lightning strikes to  buildings happen all the time. Any direct lightning strike will cause a lot of damage to electrical systems and the building. This usually causes a fire or explosion of some sort. A lot of times fires will start in the wires in the walls and attic. Even surge protectors can’t help with a surge from lightning.

 

It's more common for nearby lightning strikes to send a surge into a building through wires, metal wire conduit, rebar used in the foundation. A lot of times lighting will directly strike a utility pole and penetrate the structures electrical panel, or through plumbing or metal rebar in the foundation. This kind of damage is generally not as bad as a direct strike.

How did the lighting surge enter my home?

It’s very common to see damage to properties electrical systems and devices. When lightning strikes a nearby power line, it travels the path of least resistance from the power line to the meter and then into the home’s electrical panel. If the electrical panel is equipped with a whole-house surge protection device, the surge will stop there. If the breakers in the panel don’t stop the high voltage it will travel on top of the wires welding them together. It can also travel through the outlets into electronic devices. A lot of times because the wiring is in the walls it’s hard to find the short.

Can my small electronics get damaged by a lighting surge?

If lightning causes a surge and it penetrates a building it will cause serious damage to any electronics not connected to a surge protector. Electronics, like computers, televisions, and gaming systems are sensitive to any kind of surge. If you use a quality surge protector you can safeguard these expensive items. You should know lightning strike surges can travel through communication cables that are connected to a cable box, phone, or modem. If these cables aren’t connected to a surge protector they can allow damage to happen. That said items don’t have to be plugged into the outlets to get damaged.

Can lighting damage my large appliances?

Large appliances like  dishwashers, washers, dryers, ranges, refrigerators, well pumps, water heaters, air handlers, condensers and anything that uses electricity can be damaged from a lighting surge. Things that are more mechanical than electrical tend to do better but can still fail.

Can my pool and irrigation equipment be damaged by lightning?

Pool and irrigation equipment have a lot of plumbing and electrical parts. These systems have controls that are sensitive to voltage surges. There are  surge protectors that can save these pieces of equipment from damage. But if not protected they can be permanently damaged by lightning.

What does this mean for insurance carriers?

Surges from lightning are generally covered by your insurance policy. Having a qualified public adjuster involved in your claim will avoid the common passiveness an insurer can have towards items affected by a lighting related strike and surging. A review of your policy should be done before contacting your insurance. Knowing what you're insured for and what your damages are  ahead of calling your insurance company is always a good idea.

Will my insurance company cover the cost of a utility company related surge?

Not all surges are created equal according to most insurance policies. Ones created by a lightning event are generally covered. Not so much if it's caused by a utility company. In that case the utility company has insurance to cover your losses. This is a common event. It happens for a number of reasons. When powering grids down for maintenance or repairs a fluctuation will happen in voltage. Also transformers are prone to failing causing surges generating irregular and spikes in voltage. A good public adjuster can navigate either of these two situations.