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Zoder

join:2002-04-16
Miami, FL

Lightning Damage

Earlier today there was a bad thunderstorm in the area. Lightning struck extremely close by.

I believe it hit the uverse line and it proceeded to kill the power supply to the inid and i38 unit. Those were totally dead and would not power back on. All of my computer equipment along with the at&t equipment was plugged into an APC UPS.

The damaged uverse equipment is easily replaced by at&t and has already been taken care of. Unfortunately though, the equipment connected to my i38 also suffered malfunctions. The ethernet ports on the dlink router no longer work. Wireless still does. In addition the ethernet port on my desktop doesn't work and one of the USB ports is dead. It's possible there is additional damage but that is what I am aware of at the moment.

Does at&t have a process to cover damage caused by lightning hitting their lines? Is there a claims department and if so how do I contact them?


StillLearn
Premium
join:2002-03-21
Streamwood, IL
Normally you would look to your homeowner's or renter's insurance for a lightning strike.

Matt7

join:2001-01-02
Columbus, OH
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
·Insight Communic..
said by StillLearn:

Normally you would look to your homeowner's or renter's insurance for a lightning strike.

Yep - Not much AT&T can do if an "act of God" happens.. Your on your own for your own equipment.

Ethernet is really sensitive to lightning charges.. and it sounds like the ethernet ports on the router and the computer took the brunt..

My guess is lightning did not directly hit the AT&T line but a near by strike was enough to displace the intense static charge from the lightning and get into the sensitive telco network.

[back in 2004 I was doing consultant work for a small rural FM radio station -- our tower took a mega direct hit and our T1 that we used for internet/voice got zapped... in fact the line card back at the CO took some damage and it was our tower that got hit not the telco circuit].

Zoder

join:2002-04-16
Miami, FL

1 edit
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Zoder

join:2002-04-16
Miami, FL
reply to Matt7
Thanks for the information. So can you protect against surges on the uverse line without degrading the uverse signal? What's the best set up?


Smokey
I'd rather be skiing
Premium
join:2003-05-20
Wild West
Get a lightning surge arrester and place it between the modem and your router. You can get various cat5 and cat6 arresters online.
--
Para Bellum!!


OSUGoose

join:2007-12-27
Columbus, OH
reply to Matt7
Not necessarily, AT&T has been selling Equipment Protection plans that he could be covered by.

Paralel

join:2011-03-24
Michigan, US
kudos:4
reply to Zoder
That's weird. Aren't the gel surge arrestors used in the iNID setups? That's what mine is using in a regular NID when they installed the UVerse.

DarienRedSox

join:2013-02-10
Darien, CT
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
There are Lighting protesters in the iNID but they don't always work depend upon the power of the strike. I had half my iNID die when a surge came through on one line, was not strong enough to take out the other equipment and the iNID was able to run fine off of one line, I did not notice until a tech was fixing something else and tests kept on failing.

Zoder

join:2002-04-16
Miami, FL
reply to Paralel
Well it probably was not a direct hit as that likely would have fried everything. connected to the i38 as Xsk8er pointed out. I'm lucky my gaming rig did not completely blow out.

I know the inid had a ground wire running from the box but it appears that isn't enough.

Now I'm concerned with keeping uverse unless it can be secured properly.

If I connect a lightning arrester between the ethernet ports and my personal networked equipment will that create a ground loop because the inid is already grounded? What about the power portion? if the surge travels from the cat5 cable of the inid to the power supply and i38 the surge will likely spread to the power plugs on those pieces? Does the APC UPS work both ways? Does it arrest the surge coming from the wall only or does it also arrest the surge backfed into the UPS power ports from overloaded equipment?

I did ask the phone techs about this but it's not something they are trained on, so they couldn't offer much help. He did claim when he asked around that the ground wire on the inid should be enough. So I asked him at that point about compensation since it obviously did not do that. He could not issue a damage claim but he was able to get me a 1 month credit which will pay for the replacement NIC and part of a new router. So that was good.

We did discover today our 2nd POTS line is not working. But we don't remember if we used it last night before the tech showed up. The caller id is blank between that time period. So it either got killed too or it was not reconnected properly when the tech swapped the inid.


mackey
Premium
join:2007-08-20
kudos:13
Unfortunately with lightning the only thing certain is nothing's certain. The strike doesn't need to actually hit anything to blow stuff up. Back when I had Comcast I took a "very close by" strike which blew out a single LAN (not the WAN) port in my router and the network card in the computer attached to that port. Nothing else was damaged. The cable modem, the rest of the router, and all other equipment still worked fine. That one cable just happened to be the right length and right orientation to pick up the EMP from the lightning.

If you just get a network cable surge protector and nothing else you're just wasting you time and money. All surge protectors need a solid, low impedance path to ground, and the ground pin on your electrical outlet is not gonna cut it.

The surge protector in the APC should work both ways as it's nothing but a MOV across hot/neutral/ground.

/M


Pesimist

join:2007-07-09
Valley, AL
reply to Zoder
Have you reviewed the paperwork that came with the APC UPS?

I remember reading a clause that they will cover repairs/replacements in the event of a surge/lightning strike.

Zoder

join:2002-04-16
Miami, FL
I just got off the phone with them. I initially didn't call them because the surge came through the phone network and not the power lines so I didn't think it would be covered. I explained the situation that occurred and the lady said it should be. So I've started a claims process. We'll see what happens.

mackey the UPS has a data in and out port but it didn't totally work in this scenario. Granted only the at&t equipment totally blew and the other 2 items had just their ethernet ports effected so maybe it dampened most of the impact? So do you have a UPS surge protector? do you have a separate ground attached do the unit? I dont even see where that's an option. There's only a screw to attach the ground cable for a separate data surge protector.


mackey
Premium
join:2007-08-20
kudos:13
said by Zoder:

mackey the UPS has a data in and out port but it didn't totally work in this scenario. Granted only the at&t equipment totally blew and the other 2 items had just their ethernet ports effected so maybe it dampened most of the impact?

No, I don't think it had an effect at all. In this case the damage was most likely caused by induction and not conducted by the wiring (think kinda like how a radio antenna works).

said by Zoder:

So do you have a UPS surge protector? do you have a separate ground attached do the unit? I dont even see where that's an option. There's only a screw to attach the ground cable for a separate data surge protector.

My comment about the ground was for an external surge protector, not the UPS. If the UPS provides a connection for an external TVSS device ("data surge protector") then yes, you can use that. You just can't let the data surge protector "float" without a connection to ground and expect it to work.

/M


old_tech
Premium
join:2013-03-31
Springfield, IL
reply to Zoder
said by Zoder:

Thanks for the information. So can you protect against surges on the uverse line without degrading the uverse signal? What's the best set up?

Not with lightning. No matter what people state about proper earth bonding to the ground rod, and so called lightning surge arrestors, they will not stop your tv or networking gear from getting fried, once the surge enters through the phone or catv.

Even with gas discharge on the telco & catv, seen equipment still get destroyed. All you can do is start the paperwork process with your renters or homeowners insurance company, to replace any gear lost from the lightning strike.


old_tech
Premium
join:2013-03-31
Springfield, IL
reply to OSUGoose
said by OSUGoose:

Not necessarily, AT&T has been selling Equipment Protection plans that he could be covered by.

It only covers wiring inside the home, and their gear. It does not cover any electronics or telephones connected to their lines.


OSUGoose

join:2007-12-27
Columbus, OH
No, your thinking of Linebacker:

LineBacker

• Covers repairs to wires and phone outlets inside your home
• If you are renting or leasing, inside wire protection service may not be needed. Please check with your landlord to determine who is responsible for the inside wire; you or the landlord.

I'm referring to this:

Equipment Maintenance Plan

• Covers normal wear and tear and power surges to all eligible telephones and Caller ID equipment in your home


old_tech
Premium
join:2013-03-31
Springfield, IL
Still does not cover computer networking equipment, stereos, tv's that are connected to any equipment (ie UVerse RG & Set-top boxes), when a surge comes through. Onlyl covers telephone & caller ID equipment, which those in turn are becoming dinosaur's, or in most homes, are a base unit, with remote stations.

The Equipment Maint. Plan is a hard sell and always has been for Ma bell, so in turn, it is more of something that really does not get pushed, and look for it to go away here within the next couple of years, same as with linebacker, which is also a hard sell.

There is maybe 1 to 3 percent of consumers that opt for either one, and usually it is those that are seniors, because they grew up in the age of when you rented your phone from Ma Bell, and actually had real techs that knew what they were doing, when they came to the house, and would not need a whole shop showing up, to fix one little bad line pair at the house or pole.


Forosnai

join:2011-09-30
kudos:2
reply to Zoder
What old_tech and mackey posted is pretty much gold. No amount of surge protection setup by anyone is going to prevent the extreme voltage of a nearby lightning strike from frying equipment.
Even though the equipment was damaged because it was connected to the ATT leased CPE, ATT won't offer any compensation unless you can muster up the capital and time to hire a lawyer to force arbitration.
When acts of god happen, it's a good time to hit up OEM warranties, credit/bank purchase warranties and homeowner's insurance.

westom

join:2009-03-15
kudos:1
reply to Zoder
Your symptoms can be created when lightning strikes AC power lines far down the street. It must complete a connection to earth ground.

One excellent incoming path is into every household appliance. Is every appliance damaged? Of course not. It is electricity. If an incoming path exists but no outgoing path to earth exists, then no damage.

So how did lightning get to earth via your AT&T equipment? Incoming to computer equipment on AC electric. Outgoing to earth via ethernet. Ethernet has protection rated for 2000 volts. Only a direct strike would create that voltage and cause that damage.

No damage would exist if a direct strike (far down the street) was earthed BEFORE entering the building. But apparently you had no such protection and earthing. A surge was all but invited a to hunt for earth destructively via household appliances (ie destructively via ethernet ports and other electronics).

Every wire inside every incoming cable must first connect to earth either with a direct, hardwired connection (ie cable, satellite dish), or via a 'whole house' protector (AC electric, telephone). But if you let lightning go hunting inside, then it will select and destroy electronics that make a better connection to earth. One good connection included AT&T equipment.

AT&T summarizes this in "How can I protect my DSL/dialup equipment from surges?":
»AT&T Southeast Forum FAQ »How can I protect my DSL/dialup equipment from surges?

Ethenet damage means a surge current created thousands of volts. Only possible with a direct strike. Only possible if incoming utility wires were not properly earthed BEFORE entering the building.

cramer
Premium
join:2007-04-10
Raleigh, NC
kudos:9
reply to Matt7
said by Matt7:

[back in 2004 I was doing consultant work for a small rural FM radio station -- our tower took a mega direct hit and our T1 that we used for internet/voice got zapped... in fact the line card back at the CO took some damage and it was our tower that got hit not the telco circuit]

Indeed. I've had an RT destroyed by a close strike -- hit a tree near by. As I was told, there was black smoke coming out of it. It fried my ISDN card and the card down the line at the CO. (the switch techs were not happy (tm))

As a friend in FL used to say... "when you've seen lightning arc out of a wall socket, you stop wasting money on ''surge suppressors'' and just UNPLUG. STUFF."

AT&T is not responsible for anything beyond their own gear. APC *claims* to have a $25,000 policy for damage beyond their UPSes, but I've NEVER heard of anyone, anywhere getting a check out of them. That said, count yourself lucky only the ethernet ports were fried.

cramer
Premium
join:2007-04-10
Raleigh, NC
kudos:9
reply to westom
said by westom:

Ethenet damage means a surge current created thousands of volts. Only possible with a direct strike. Only possible if incoming utility wires were not properly earthed BEFORE entering the building.

Bull. It only takes a few hundred volts to burn out an ethernet PHY. (the 120 in your walls can do it.) I don't think you grasp how much power is in a lightning bolt... MILLIONS of volts. A thousand volt ground shift can happen over a mile from the actual strike. No. Amount. Of. Grounding. Will. Stop. It.


psafux
Premium,VIP
join:2005-11-10
kudos:2
reply to Zoder
Your UPS might have a lightning protection rider in its warranty paperwork. I'd suggest checking that angle. Many do.

Paralel

join:2011-03-24
Michigan, US
kudos:4
reply to mackey
said by mackey:

said by Zoder:

mackey the UPS has a data in and out port but it didn't totally work in this scenario. Granted only the at&t equipment totally blew and the other 2 items had just their ethernet ports effected so maybe it dampened most of the impact?

No, I don't think it had an effect at all. In this case the damage was most likely caused by induction and not conducted by the wiring (think kinda like how a radio antenna works).


Agreed. I have actually seen a "very close by" strike take out the video card in a laptop that was running, but was not plugged into anything. The EMP was strong enough, and the video card was apparently fragile enough, that it was enough to blow it. It was literally the only explanation for it dying at the exact moment a nearby strike occurred. People often underestimate the power of the EMP associated with a lightning strike.

westom

join:2009-03-15
kudos:1
reply to cramer
said by cramer:

Bull. It only takes a few hundred volts to burn out an ethernet PHY. (the 120 in your walls can do it.)

Please learn manufacturer spec before posting speculation. Ethernet ports have protection rated at thousands of volts. Telephone equipment must withstand up to 600 volts without damage. All appliances already contain superior protection that makes most transient irrelevant.

The OP's concern are rare transients that can overwhelm that protection. Once properly installed, then direct lightning strikes without damage are routine.

Telco COs typically suffer about 100 surges with each storm. How often is your town without phone service for four days while they replace that $multi-million computer? Telcos do not waste money on devices that do not even claim that protection - such as a UPS. Telcos spend much less money on superior earthing of a less expensive and superior protector. So that protection already inside equipment is not overwhelmed.

A nearby strike to a tree can be a direct strike to household appliances. Some concepts must be learned. Especially the single point earth ground. Failure to implement well understood and basic protection explains damage even to an 'assumed to be disconnected' appliance.

Protection from direct lightning strikes is so routine that damage is considered a human mistake. Telcos suffer about 100 surges per storm without damage. Electronics atop the Empire State Building suffer about 23 direct strikes annually - without damage. Munitions dumps routinely suffer direct strikes without damage. In every case, proper earthing means direct lightning strikes without damage - even to the protector.

That UPS does not even claim to protect from such transients. Read its spec numbers. Numerous fine print exemptions in its warranty means claims need not be honored.

AT&T app note (»AT&T Southeast Forum FAQ »How can I protect my DSL/dialup equipment from surges?) demonstrates how protection, even from direct lightning strikes, was implemented. Not implementing well proven solutions means a lightning strike to a nearby tree can also be a direct and destructive strike to appliances inside the house.

DarienRedSox

join:2013-02-10
Darien, CT
reply to Zoder
Dog fences can also destroy stuff if a nearby tree is hit, as they feed the strike directly into your electrical system.


tigerpaw509

join:2011-01-19
reply to Zoder
You cant stop lightning no matter what you do.Lightning can hit the ground near your house jump onto a tree root that crosses a conduit back into your house through your electrical wire,just one of many ways to enter your house.

Zoder

join:2002-04-16
Miami, FL
reply to Zoder
We did come across two more pieces of damaged equipment.

The receiver on a ceiling fan remote control and the display on an alarm clock. The radio still works.

Paralel

join:2011-03-24
Michigan, US
kudos:4
said by Zoder:

We did come across two more pieces of damaged equipment.

The receiver on a ceiling fan remote control and the display on an alarm clock. The radio still works.

That would def. seem to speak to either a very powerful EMP, or that the lightning came down your mains, not your UVerse line as you had thought.

Zoder

join:2002-04-16
Miami, FL
Click for full size
regular nid
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ground for nid
Click for full size
inid
Click for full size
junction point at grounding rod
Click for full size
ground from meter
Click for full size
continued
Click for full size
power meter
If the surge came down the mains wouldn't the APC equipment have stopped working? I've read that it should sacrifice itself if it can't dissipate all of the excess voltage over it's threshold to ground.

Also, here are some pictures of the power and telephone grounding. After reading the FAQ I want to make sure all the grounds look bonded. I think they are.