Lightning surge damage update.

AZjeff

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A few weeks ago we had a near lightning strike that caused a power surge that took out the incoming internet box on the outside of the house, the modem, the doorbell, and the AC. Centurylink replaced the outside box and modem, a new $60 doorbell is incoming, (it's a special AC/DC all in one unit,) and the AC problem turned out to be a fried control board.

I had to call in an HVAC company as I have no way to diagnose but suspected the board. $90 call out charge, tech shows up and checks the ground unit then goes into the attic where the air handler and heating unit are. He replaced the blown 5A blade fuse (that I found and replaced hoping it was the problem,) closed the door switch and heard a relay chatter and said fried board. We came out of the attic and back at his van I gave him the part number off of the board that I had a pic of. He gets out his tablet inputs the part number and says it will be $550 installed and won't be available until next week. Problem is I found the board available from $100 - $200 online at various sources. Told him I knew he didn't set prices but I thought that a bit steep and I may try it myself. This was 3 Fridays ago and we were leaving on a 2 week trip on Sunday. I ordered the OEM board to be delivered ($120) to my daughter so it was waiting when we got home yesterday. Last evening when it cooled down I went up and including taking pics of all the connections and labeling identical blade connectors for location it took me 20 minutes to R&R the board and the AC fired up. A tech who knew where the wires go would do it in 10 minutes. I owned a small business and get costs and profit but that just felt a bit steep. If it was a 3 hour job would be a different story. The HVAC shop is 6 minutes away. Sometimes previous experience pays off.

Interesting that the Centurylink tech and HVAC tech both said it was an EMP from a near strike since it was only low voltage equipment that was killed. No evidence of a strike on our property or the neighboring properties. Next door neighbor says she lost a humidifier.
 
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Joined
Apr 12, 2012
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Michigan
Wow.. glad you were able to replace it all yourself for a great price! Reminds me of when I was getting the house ready to sell and had to repair the a/c compressor. Two separate hvac companies both (what? it's a trend lately?) tried to sell me a $10,000 new hvac system claiming the existing system was "too old" and repair parts were not available. Not true at all.. 20 min search online bam! new rheem contactor, new fan motor (rheem replacement brand), new capacitor (made in usa too! Titan HD brand), total? $160!

Feels so good when you can do it yourself!

So I can completely relate to your story, there's profit and then there's just plain greed.. and people who want to claim "overhead" for a business go ahead.. They'll just price themselves out of business during this economic spot we're in lately!
 
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Problem is I found the board available from $100 - $200 online at various sources. Told him I knew he didn't set prices but I thought that a bit steep and I may try it myself. This was 3 Fridays ago and we were leaving on a 2 week trip on Sunday. I ordered the OEM board to be delivered ($120) to my daughter so it was waiting when we got home yesterday. Last evening when it cooled down I went up and including taking pics of all the connections and labeling identical blade connectors for location it took me 20 minutes to R&R the board and the AC fired up. A tech who knew where the wires go would do it in 10 minutes. I owned a small business and get costs and profit but that just felt a bit steep. If it was a 3 hour job would be a different story. The HVAC shop is 6 minutes away. Sometimes previous experience pays off.
If you think that is bad...

The condenser fan motor died on my parents' 2004-era American Std/Trane Allegiance 14. It is a unique x13 ECM motor with 2 speeds. I ordered one online for $987 and it took me 20 mins to install. HVAC company quoted $1950 installed.
 
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Had a similar experience with a control board. Called a tech out ($90) who was kind of chatty but in a good way. Said the unit is old but in great condition and the board is failing, then said “You seem fairly handy and seem to somewhat understand all this. I didn’t tell you this, but it’ll be about $400 and a few days before we can replace this board. You can get one on Amazon in 2 days for about $100-$150 and it’s just plug n play.”

It was indeed plug n play, just followed the directions because the replacement Honeywell board wasn’t an “exact fit” but more of a universal replacement.
 
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My business partner had a lightning strike last year. We were at work where we can see the city skyline and we were watching a very dark and ominous storm with tons of lightning just south of us. He had just put in a $150K pool/patio the year before and went home to find all the pool mechanicals fried and most of the appliances in the house fried including 2 HVAC units, all the TVs, and appliances in the kitchen. A neighbor stopped by that evening to see if everyone was ok because they were looking out their backdoor when the strike happened and he said it appeared to hit the approximate area with the pool equipment. Insurance was kind of a nightmare and while the process of determining which appliances were affected was straightforward the process of trying to figure out which hidden items like wires and outlets were affected sucked.

There were outlets and wires that were melted. The back of a TV was melted. There were issues with supply chains and being unable to get replacement parts. Lightning can really do some damage.
 
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Under the Hood
AZjeff, a repair like yours's has to make you feel good / self-reliant.

It has to be difficult (or impossible) protecting electronics from a lightning strike.
How much help would a Whole House Surge Protector have helped?

One good idea would be to unplug any electronics during a thunderstorm.
Not just turn them OFF, but actually unplug.
 
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AZjeff

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So all total how long were you without A/C?
Hi Bill. We were out for 5 days then we went traveling for 2 weeks. It was in mid 90s while we were here and the house got to 81-82 in the late afternoons so liveable. Daughter checked the house every couple of days and the thermostat never showed above 80 when we were gone.

I don't know if a whole house surge protector would have protected the low voltage stuff since it didn't pop any breakers. Funny I learned of the WHSPs recently and was researching them on and off. If it was an EMP maybe not since that radiates from a point and wouldn't necessarily come through the box. But a good idea.
 
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A typical lightning flash is about 300 million Volts and about 30,000 Amps. Other than lighting rod protection don't know of any for a direct hit. Look at Artemis 1 rocket they protected it by three towers.
 
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