My own personal Lightning Damage Experience
Let me begin by saying lightning damage can be mild or severe. Mine was severe!
It was late July and an ordinary thunderstorm was rolling through. My wife and I had gone to bed, but hadn't quite fallen asleep yet. Suddenly a loud BOOM sounded outside that ended with a brief snap. Sounded close.
My wife and I both sat up in bed sensing that something was wrong. We both smelled something that resembled burning plastic.
I was wide awake at that point.
I jumped out of bed and raced around the house, nose first. The house alarm system LED panel glowed green, but no text was displayed - that's not good.
Out in the kitchen there was a definite burnt plastic smell - the phone/answering machine unit. I ran outside to look for any physical signs of lightning damage, be it smoke, flames, fallen tree or whatever. Nothing. Retrieved the ladder so I could climb through the access panel in the garage to the attic. Nothing there. So far so good.
I continued around the house looking for damage. Obviously the lightning entered through the phone lines. The 3 line AT&T phones seemed to be Ok, but no dial tone. I had APC Ptel2 telephone line surge protectors installed, they were blown. Bypassing those I was able to get a dial tone again.
Where else does the phone line go? The alarm system - it was toast. The DSL modem and from there to my firewall and every PC in the house. The DSL modem was gone, firewall Ok. At that time, I did NOT have another surge protector in network cable from the DSL modem to the firewall - I do now!
Once on the network wire, the excess voltage traveled around the house looking for other ways to get to a ground.
- Motherboard in the server was gone.
- Camera server was Ok, I think because the lightning kept right on moving to the camera! It was fried along with the camera card in the camera server PC.
- Network card in another PC rendered inoperable - finally, something cheap and easy to fix.
Three weeks later, many thousands of dollars from the deductible (me) and the insurance company, several DAYS of my time and we were finally back up and running as before.
Only difference? MORE surge protectors in network cables separating different areas of the network. APC, by the way, replaced the Ptel2's that were destroyed, but the insurance they tout on the box only applies to devices DIRECTLY CONNECTED to the surge protector! Read the Fine Print. I was protecting the lines where they come into the house, trying to save everything connected downstream.
Do bear in mind that lightning CAN get on an inside wire through some other method and travel around also. One example would be a satellite receiver that has a phone line attached so you can order movies on demand. Lightning could come in on the antenna cable to the descrambler box and jump on the phone line there.
Moral of the storySo, Protect Everywhere, Protect Often, Protect with the best!
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