Possible causes of "blown" electronics

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After some time away..............came home to:
two TV's two DVD / VCR combos wireless router garage door opener forced air furnace GFI in garage tripped & will not reset some wall repectales & lighting circuits not working (but no breakers tripped and power ok on both hot legs)
all items were non-functional, non- responsive, no power up
cable company had called & said their cable equipment in the vicinity of our house was "blown"
I pulled the panel cover & tightened all wire clamps on the breakers and the screws on the neutral bus....found a couple slightly loose. All circuits returned to working order.
furnace 24v transformer bad...replaced it and furnace now working bought new router before I checked to see if old router failure was just power supply, it was :(
no lightning storms while away
any ideas as to cause of destruction of all these electronic items?
voltage surge? cause of said surge?
cheers Bob
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On Tue 25 Nov 2008 10:44:19p, BobK207 told us...

Voltage surge. Who knows. Call your power company. They should have some sort of record of anything unusual. It also wouldn’t hurt to have them come out and check electrical service, including panel.
--
Wayne Boatwright
(correct the spelling of "geemail" to reply)
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Wayne Boatwright wrote:

Also check with home insurnace for possible reapir bill reimbursement.
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Sounds like a fairy story.
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Wayne Boatwright wrote:

The key thing here is that the cable company indicated their gear in the vicinity was blown. Check with your neighbors as well to see if they had similar issues.
As has been noted, the loss of a neutral connection can do this type of damage. If it affected more than just your house i.e. the cable company's gear and/or neighbors, it is possible that the neutral may have been lost on the utility transformer that supplies several homes (varies by area as to how many homes would be served).
Another relatively common possibility would be "man-made lightning" caused by an event suck as a falling tree branch or an auto accident that causes the high voltage primary wires at the top of the pole to contact the lower voltage wires a bit further down that supply the houses.
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You don't need a lightning storm to be hit by lightning. Any neighbors have same problems?
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Homes mostly sporadically occupied, none on the same transformer are here...
my closet thing to an "effected neighbor" is the cable company guy & their blown equipment.
cheers Bob
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wrote:

I don't have an answer as I'm a DIY er.
Did your area experience a "brownout"? A drop in power and a sudden surge of power.
.."A brownout is a temporary interruption of power service in which the electric power is reduced, rather than being cut as is the case with a blackout. Lights may flicker and dim during a brownout, and the event also often wreaks havoc with electrical appliances such as computers. One could consider a brownout the opposite of a power surge, an electrical event in which a sudden burst of power enters the system."
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-brownout.htm
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Oren-
Actually, my area expericend a complete, fairly longterm power outage....long enough to mess up digital clocks and partially melt ice cubes & make ice cream "grainy".
Upon reading more about drops (brownouts) or complete power loss....in high current surge when power is restored can also damage equipment.
I think your comment ..................>>>>>> One could consider a brownout the opposite of a power surge, an electrical event in which a sudden burst of power enters the system. <<<<<<<<
makes the most sense
cheers Bob
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That high current surge means voltage rises slowly. A high current surge to the utility means a same or lower current startup to you. Electronics love slowly rising voltages. In fact, some electronics contain a n inrush current limiter to slow that voltage rise - to somewhat duplicate a slow voltage rise also seen during a high current surge.
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wrote:

'Bub is on target, get the "whole-house surge suppressor" installed. Mounts near the breaker panel (seen in new spec homes).
Black, Brown or "Rolling" outages harm the equipment.
A business may want to visit apcc.com. Software can log the information (PowerChute) - Copyright © American Power Conversion Corp., all rights reserved.
Equipment is protected.
http://www.apcc.com/tools/download/index.cfm?isocountrycode=US&tsk
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Wayne Boatwright wrote:

there was an open neutral, even if only intermittently, outside of your home. If just devices in your home failed then the open neutral was on your side of the meter and you are on the hook. Otherwise the power company should bear the burden of repairing all of it.
Boden
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Loose neutral will do that -- turns two 120V circuits on opposite legs of the 240V service into a single 240V circuit in series, sending 240V through a whole bunch of things that were never intended to see more than 120V.
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On Nov 25, 10:08 pm, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

Doug-
I know that across the two hot legs of a residential installation is 240V.
But I'm not understanding how a loose neutral (would that be to the house neutral or neutral an individual circuit?) would give 240V on a 120V?
A loose "individual circuit neutral" would break the 120V circuit ....dead no power?
Loose (how loose?) or lost house neutral would still leave all the individual neutrals connected at the neutral bus.......and the return path for all the 120V circuits is back through the opposite leg hot?
Is that where the 240v in series across the 120V circuits comes from????
Would the Edison guys have know enough to check for loose neutral at the house entrance? And would throwing a Wiggy across the terminals give them anything other than voltage?
My service comes in underground & the meter w/ main breaker (mounted outside on the house).
My "main panel" is in the laundry room (no main breaker there).
Everything seems to be working fine now.
cheers Bob
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Loose neutral on the incoming supply.

Exactly.
Exactly.
They'll check up to where they make the connections at the rain head (if it's an overhead entrance) or at their side of the meter base (underground entrance). Downstream from there is your responsibility, and they won't check it. The neutral could be loose on your side of the meter base, or at the lug in your main panel.
Much more likely, though, that any loose neutral problem that might exist is on the power company's side of things.

Don't think so.

Let's hope it stays that way.
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On Sat, 29 Nov 2008 15:32:59 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

My dad lost most of his electronics and every light-bulb that was turned on when someone slid their car into the transformer vault about 2 houses down the street. The hydro company figured he gor a couple thousand volts for up ro a second before the fuse on the downline transformer let go.
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The problem is when there is a BIG item like a toaster, on one leg. And a small item like a VCR on the other leg. Then, most of the voltage goes to the low wattage item.
--
Christopher A. Young
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My first thought would be lightning which didn't necessarily have to hit your house directly to do damage. It could have hit a pole down the street. You could also have a neutral conductor problem. The neutral connection should be checked at the main panel, the meter, the service head and at the pole and transformer. You should also make sure that your water pipe ground connection is clean and tight. Also check to make sure that the wire to your ground rod is not broken. If you don't have a ground rod, then have two installed.
I had a customer call me a few years ago about a recurring problem with lightning. TV's, VCR's, and the garage door openers had all been hit at one time or another. I went and had a look. The house was only about two years old. It had a well with a plastic water line into the basement and the original installer had put in a grounding conductor and clamp right where it changed over to copper. I looked outside and there was one ground rod with a loose clamp and the wire was not installed correctly. In essence they had no effective ground path to earth. I installed two new ground rods and they never had any more problems with lightning.
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BobK207 wrote:

You may never find the actual culprit. Rare symptoms like yours can have many fathers.
After performing all the steps suggested by other posters (guaranteeing a suitable ground, tight connections, etc.), it would be prudent to install a whole-house surge suppressor (about $40).
Good luck.
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It could be alot of things as all have said and maybe the power co is responsible since even the cable co had issues, talk to neighbors but get your home checked out, add a whole house lightning and surge unit, indivdual surge protectors. But turning off everything when not used even overnight can save you alot every month in electric bills, if you are away why keep things on.
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