Saturday, April 23, 2011

Struck by Lightning! Go Unplug Your Electronic Machine

Barbara phoned about ten days ago to say that their house was hit by lightning in the early morning hours.  The damage is devastating.

The house wiring is damaged - insulation is off the wires in places and very, very dangerous.  The air conditioner and furnace were ruined.  They lost a bunch of electrical appliances and other items, including her beloved Bernina sewing machine and her treasured Passap E6000 electronic knitting machine.

My John thought that maybe if Barbara put a different console on the Passap that she would discover the console took the brunt of the hit, but nope, she tried that right away.  The console is ruined, the motor is ruined, and the wiring and electronics for the beds are also ruined, or at least based on symptoms, that's how it looks.

Barbara used surge protectors, and the E6 was on an older heavy-duty one.  This was a terrible strike, though.  She didn't have her serger plugged in, so it was okay.  The Brother was plugged in, also on a surge protector, but it was okay.  It just seemed to depend on where things were.

The firefighters who responded were amazed the whole house didn't burn down because the strike also caused a gas leak!  God is good.  The whole family was sleeping, Barbara, Carl, David, and their adorable granddaughter.  Talk about saving the treasures!

Now they're fighting the homeowners' insurance company, and based on their experience with this company so far (a big, famous one), either the claims adjuster is a lower life form or the company is utterly a sham.  Barbara and Carl will see it through and eventually get decent reimbursements and put the household back together, but it has been a nightmarish experience so far, with Barbara using up vacation time to chase things the claims adjuster is demanding.

I've been told by people who've been through it about the difficulties you can run into with an insurance company when a knitting machine is ruined.  You should have photos of the machine and documentation about what you paid for it, and you still may be in for a fight.  It's just not your typical household appliance.

We're having lunch with Barbara and Carl, we're taking my spare Passap E6 over there, and John's having a look at the zapped E6 to see the extent of the damage.  John will take photos and write a letter for the insurance company.  Barbara did an expensive upgrade from 8k to 32k some years ago, and she's looking for documentation for what that is worth (cost her $600, and I was envious.  My John hasn't done those kind of upgrades, so far.  Hint.  Hint, Darling Sweetie.).

Please observe a moment of silence for the poor nuked Passap.  Now go unplug all your treasures!  I hate to unplug mine, hate all that crawling around on the floor, but I'm doing it, too.


  1. We went through that 20 years ago. The lighting didn't hit the house, but it did hit the pole & traveled down the cable & every one that had anything that was plugged in, was fried. Our insurance company called it' an act of God' so we didn't get anything on it, & neither did our neighbors. Fortunately it didn't hurt the wiring in the house, but just replacing every thing cost a bundle. At that time I only had a Studio 360 punchcard machine/ribber, so at least it wasn't hurt. I hope that insurance companies are being more cooperative now, then they were then.

  2. I'm very sorry for your friends' loss of property and totally amazed to read that the surge protectors didn't do the job!
    Thanks for the warning - I'm plugging out from here on in!

  3. We were struck by lightning in 1998 and it traveled down the downspout,tore up a ditch in the yard, and destroyed various electronics near the downspout (computer, phone, and our brand new whole house air conditioner). Ever since I always keep all my sewing, knitting machines, and their accessories unplugged unless I am using them. I do not use them during thunderstorms, ever. We even unplug our computers and everything connected to them during thunderstorms. Only totally unplugging can protect against lightning. Lightning is way too strong and powerful for a surge protector.
    Rita in Raleigh, NC