Electric Co. backs down

Page 1 of 2  

I recently put in a claim to ComEd here in a suburb of Chicago for a burnt out stove electric starter. It was working fine up to a short power outage and failed immediately afterwards costing me about $150 to repair. They claim there was no negligence on their part and denied payment. We have had more than our share
of power outages in my immediate area, and this one happened on a clear weather night with no high winds. I have put power surge protectors on most of my electronics but failed to cover my stove. I'm not sure it even would have helped, but I shouldn't have to put protectors on every outlet in my home. I think they owe me.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

What is your theory as to how a power outage dmaged the stove?
--
Often wrong, never in doubt.

Larry Wasserman - Baltimore, Maryland - snipped-for-privacy@charm.net
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
get a whole house surge protector..........
and remember everything breals sometime, it was likely just its time to fail....
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
sherwindu wrote:

I'd forget it. I've put in numerous claims to the power company for what has basically been deteriorating survice by their neglecting the infrastructure - mostly neglecting tree trimming. Standard answer is, "Act of God" and only one claim, for a few pounds of dry ice to protect my frozen food was paid. I seriously considered taking the company to small claims court but my lawyer son said to forget it, as they would fight the claim, and "Act of God" always wins.
I have surge protectors on everything of value and bought a back up generator and power transfer box last winter.
Frank
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Many years ago our power company in Raleigh NC had a severe brown out. I was home and turned off everything I could think of but a brand new sewer pump was damaged. Utility company paid for replacement and my neighbors heatpump and tons of other damage, no questions asked. Apparently they were sending half power out for about 15 minutes when systems to prevent that failed.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
sherwindu wrote:

That's the modern american way. No one is responsible for what happens to them, they all look for someone else to blame.
Unless you can explain to me the technical reason how an outage and power restore could have caused damage to your stove, I'd say you're just farting in the wind(y city).
BTW, is it true that Chicago got that nickname not because of meteorological conditions in that area but because of all the politicians there bleating continuously?
Jeff
--
Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Power outages and restores can create switching transients with peak-to-peak voltages vastly greater than the RMS voltage nominally supplied by the utility. Motors and other inductive loads have huge inrush currents at start-up, and many electronic devices are unable to deal with these surges. I have lost a number of unprotected devices.
"Movistors", "Transorbs", and back to back zener diodes are typically used in this application to clamp the transients. And there once was a time when power companies took some responsibility for the quality of the power they delivered. Alas, this no longer seems to be the case.
Smarty

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Smarty wrote:

Which is why I installed a "whole house" transient absorber right across the output of the main circuit breaker in our home's panel.
What I was attempting to say is that there isn't any practical way for the OP to "prove" that a power company caused transient made his stove fail, and since he admits he thought about and provided protection for other devices in his home, his failing to do so for the stove should rest on his shoulders.
Peace,
Jeff
--
Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Jeff Wisnia wrote:

Andy writes:
Transorbs and Zeners will do absolutely nothing to protect against a sustained "brownout".
If a compressor, or a motor, is given a fractional voltage for a sustained period of time, as often happens after a strike which requires the power grid to "boot back up", the excessive current into the device will burn out a winding...
In the past, my homeowner's insurance has covered it. Perhaps the power company will take responsibility...
But there is nothing in the world in a "transiend suppressor system" that can do diddly-squat against a sustained low voltage on a motor.....
I don't know what your problem was, and you probly don't either, but I wish you good luck.
Andy in Texas , registered PE
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Smarty wrote:

The power companies level of responsibility and willingness to take responsibility varies greatly by utility, state and circumstances of the event.
I've seen a case where the utility covered the cost of repair of a stereo and VCR that were damaged when the utility lost a neutral connection at the pole.
Another case a utility readily covered damages to some computer equipment that was damaged by an event that was likely a misconnected tap during the replacement of a failed distribution transformer. Amazingly enough after tripping nearly every breaker in the entire data center, the only damage was to one small router and one small network switch.
Most utilities do take the quality of the power they supply seriously and if presented with a reasonable claim that is supported by relevant data indicating it resulted from the utilities negligence in some way they will usually accept the claim without issues.
The thing to remember is that not everything is the utilities fault. A failure of their equipment would be, but they can hardly be held responsible for the results of a lightning strike or a car crash into a pole (though the at fault driver might be held responsible).
Pete C.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks for all the replies.
The reason I think the power failure did me in was the circumstance that the stove ignitor worked for several years without a problem, up to and immediately before the power outage, and then failed immediately afterwards. Too much of a coincidence.
The stove starter is some kind of device that incorporates solid state circuitry. Those kinds of circuits typically cannot tolerate any swings or spikes in voltage. A surge suppresser MAY have prevented this problems, but for many electronic devices of this type, they probably don't do much good.
As I mentioned, my immediate neighbor hood (about 1 block radius) has had a long history of these power outages, more than one would expect from natural causes. The power company probably has old equipment and doesn't want to spend the money to upgrade. I consider this negligence, so their using this as a justification that there was none, doesn't have any merit. I am going to file the necessary complaints
with the proper agencies and the newspapers. ComEd is currently trying to raise our
rates about 20%, even though they are making big profits. I have no sympathies for these bandits who try to wiggle out of responsibility for poor equipment and service.
Sherwin D.
sherwindu wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

The stove igniter is not active all the time. There is no power to it unless you activate it. I don't see how power dropping out can affect it. I think you lose.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I am not an electronics expert, but my limited knowledge tells me that certain legs of transistors, such as ground, can be connected all the time to the power source. I know that in certain TV's, there is constant power to the set, even when it is not turned on. You can hear their transformers buzzing with the sets powered off. Devices do not have to be powered on to receive fluxuations in current and/or voltage. Switches only complete part of the connection to power. There are other paths.
Do I think it was an act of nature that caused the power failure, no. Do I feel that this device was somehow fried by the electric company, yes. Should I have to install expensive and exotic whole house circuitry to fully protect my house, I don't think so. If these electrical connections to a power grid are potentially dangerous, let the power companies install their own equipment to provide reasonable and safe service.
Sherwin D.
Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Yes, only one of two AC electric wires disconnects to turn off an igniter. Other wire would make connections to transistors. Therefore the type of destructive surge (completely ignored by plug-in protectors) that can harm transistors ,when igniter is off, is seeking earth ground - destructively.
"expensive and exotic whole house circuitry" costs tens of times less money per protected appliance. It is neither complex, exotic, nor expensive. And it is necessary in all homes since transistors arrived in the 1970s. A typically destructive type of transient - be it lightning or during utility switching - seeks earth either via one 'whole house' protector (no damage) OR via appliances throughout the building (some or many damaged appliances).
Your building must be earthed per post 1990 NEC for numerous reasons. One is a major safety problem should neutral wire fail. Another is to eliminate human electrical shocks. Another is for potential fire created by adjacent household problems. And but another reason is so that typically destructive transients are earthed. Again, nothing exotic. This earthing is 100% your responsibility.
Earthing connects directly to one of three AC power wires - for human safety. For transistor safety, earthing to other two wires is also required via a 'whole house' protector. Such solutions are sold in Lowes, Home Depot, and electrical supply houses. They have responsible names such as Square D, Siemens, Cutler-Hammer, GE, Intermatic, and Leviton. Never saw such solutions sold in Sears, Kmart, Radio Shack, Staples, Circuit City, or the grocery store.
Secondary protection made necessary because transistors now exist. Transistor damage from these transients is your responsibility. A solution is so inexpensive and simple. Type of transient that could have passed through that 'powered off' igniter occurs only because AC electric was not earthed where AC wires entered the building.
One final point. If AC electric transients are entering the building - damaging that stove igniter - then those transients may be finding earth ground via gas lines. No problem as long as gas lines are electrically conductive and are not leaking. But do you really want destructive transients finding earth ground via gas pipes? Of course not.
Fix your secondary protection 'system' including an upgrade to necessary earthing that was required only after 1990. Inspect your primary protection 'system' as demonstrated by pictures in: http://www.tvtower.com/fpl.html
You asked for a solution. This is where a solution begins. Electric company is not responsible for these solutions - homeowner is. If you don't have a 'whole house' protector on AC mains, well then, protection already inside all appliances (including the igniter) could be overwhelmed. Solution begins with your post 1990 earthing requirements AND with inspection of the utility's earthing. Verify they have maintained what is your primary protection 'system'. Inspect or upgrade your secondary protection 'system'. Install a 'whole house' protector. Best is to have your responsibilities covered before blaming an electric company for future failures.
sherwindu wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
w_tom wrote:

That is BS. Electric company is to provide clean/stable power to consumers. Also whole house surge protector is not 100% insurance. I live in Calgary Alberta. In the past 40 years I never suffered anything power related damage. During that time total power outage was maybe maybe half an hour?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Tony Hwang wrote:

Tony,
I agree with your opinion on providing clean power. However, the problem in these cases is not the duration of the power outage, but the transients introduced when it is restored. Besides current spikes, the power can overshoot above the 120/240 volt standard and/or oscillate around that value until things settle down. That plays havoc on any electrical system. One thing I try to do, if I can catch it in time, is turn off all equipment, especially the AC unit in preparation for the power coming back up. Sometimes it could be a power station faulty relay that will 'chatter' turning the power off and on in rapid succession. I'm not sure these fancy grounding systems can compensate for that.
Sherwin D.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In situation as described, an igniter was powered off. But igniter was damaged. How? A transient that would have harmed that igniter, instead, must be earthed where AC enters the building. Turning off power did not protect igniter - in this scenario.

action. Second, the igniter was even off when damaged. If utility switching creates a surge that seeks earth ground, then surge may seek earth ground, destructively, through household electronics due to missing earthing or no earthed 'whole house' protector.
One can complain about utility power. Complaints don't change reality. Transient that typically overwhelms internal appliance protection is why all homes now require post 1990 earthing and a properly earthed 'whole house' protector. That has been reality since 1970s. Complaints don't change that reality.
A 'whole house' protector is not 100% protection. A roof is also not 100% protection from weather. So what do we do? Not install a roof? Or install something that protects from most all weather? Same reason for installing a properly earthed 'whole house' protector.
sherwindu wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
ok, so a ignitor which had worked faithfully for many years up to and shortly before a power outage, suddenly fails almost immediately after power is restored is just some kind of wierd coincidence? I don't think so. Like many other devices, the power off switch does not isolate ALL the circuitry from the outside world.
Sherwin D.
w_tom wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Defined was why that damage would happen AND why it would not be a frequent occurrence. Defined are what all homes have needed since 1970s and the arrival of transistors in homes. Defined is igniter damage maybe because your building has a wiring problem.
Lightning or AC utility switching can create a type of transient that seeks earth ground destructively via transistors. Power on or powered off - with or without plug-in protectors - that transient may still seek earth ground via the unswitched wire AND may be outgoing via gas pipe. Again, is it acceptable to have electric currents flowing down a gas pipe? And again, this failure would be possible if your building earthing does not meet post-1990 code AND if you do not have the 'whole house' protector.
Defined was how damage could have occurred, why building earthing is so essential (for so many reasons), and why homeowners need a properly earthed 'whole house' protector. Reread what was posted. Your reply implies that you did not understand a technical reply that explains how igniter damage happened. Defined is why a household electrical system must be inspected, why it might be upgraded, AND why you must inspect what the utility has installed. All this because you had damage. Clearly defined was why an igniter could be damaged when switched off. Please reread the previous post since it is the only post that defines how your damage could have happened AND defines how you avoid a repeat of same damage.
You have work to do. Igniter damage may simply be a warning that human safety problems also exist. Grasp warnings in those previous posts that also explain why igniter damage could have occurred.
This, your latest reply, implied you misread the previous and technical post.
sherwindu wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

But during a blackout, there is no power source.

But you don't have a problem with a TV. Different circuitry.

You can feel however you want to feel, but that is not going to get things fixed. Nor is it going to prove anything to the power company. I don't think you've convinced many people here so I doubt the engineers at the power company are going to side with you. You can always hire a lawyer though, they may enjoy pursuing the claim and billing you. Keep in mind, you'll need expert testimony, not your personal feelings or hunches.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.