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
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
but failed to cover my stove. I'm not sure it even would have helped, but I
have to put protectors on every outlet in my home. I think they owe me.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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
The power companies level of responsibility and willingness to take
responsibility varies greatly by utility, state and circumstances of the
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
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).
Thanks for all the replies.
The reason I think the power failure did me in was the circumstance that the
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
The stove starter is some kind of device that incorporates solid state circuitry.
kinds of circuits typically cannot tolerate any swings or spikes in voltage. A
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
there was none, doesn't have any merit. I am going to file the necessary
with the proper agencies and the newspapers. ComEd is currently trying to raise
rates about 20%, even though they are making big profits. I have no sympathies
these bandits who try to wiggle out of responsibility for poor equipment and
I am not an electronics expert, but my limited knowledge tells me that certain
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
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
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
Edwin Pawlowski wrote:
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
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:
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.
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?
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
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
That plays havoc on any electrical system. One thing I try to do, if I can
in time, is turn off all equipment, especially the AC unit in preparation for the
coming back up. Sometimes it could be a power station faulty relay that will
turning the power off and on in rapid succession. I'm not sure these fancy
systems can compensate for that.
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.
First, that surge solution uses something that is unreliable - human
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.
ok, so a ignitor which had worked faithfully for many years up to and shortly
a power outage, suddenly fails almost immediately after power is restored is
kind of wierd coincidence? I don't think so. Like many other devices, the
switch does not isolate ALL the circuitry from the outside world.
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
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.
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