As Ed notes, an igniter is powered only when igniting and not when
power was restored.. Furthermore, restoration of power does not cause
a voltage surge. It creates a current surge as voltage stays low - no
voltage surge. Just another fact that would cause a claim to be
Meanwhile, voltage surge could happen if a new transformer was tapped
too high. But then other items - not a powered off igniter - would
be damaged. And surge protectors would completely ignore that
marginally higher voltage. Get the number labeled let-through voltage
before making any assumptions.
Those claims that a protector (or tranzsorb, etc) would accomplish
something useful are misleading. Type of surge that typically causes
damage means earth ground is necessary. No earth ground means that
protector does nothing. Why are 'whole house' protectors so effective?
They (should) have the necessary earthing connection. A surge earthed
where utility wires enter a building means the surge will not take a
destructive path through stove igniters. Yes, this type surge could
pass through an igniter - even if not powered. Protectors attached at
wall receptacles could even make such damage easier.
All appliances have internal protection. Anything that the plug-in
protector was going to accomplish is already inside appliances.
Internal protection that can be overwhelmed if you don't earth
potentially destructive transients at the service entrance and to a
single point earth ground.
Appliance safety means a single 'whole house' protector AND building
earthing. Building earthing should be upgraded to meet and exceed post
1990 National Electrical Code requirements. That is your
responsibility. That is the secondary protection 'system'.
Meanwhile, utility is responsible for the primary protection
'system'. Inspect it:
The best information I have seen on surge protection is at
- the title is "How to protect your house and its contents from
lightning: IEEE guide for surge protection of equipment connected to AC
power and communication circuits" published by the IEEE in 2005 (the
IEEE is the dominant organization of electrical and electronic engineers
in the US).
A second guide is
- this is the "NIST recommended practice guide: Surges Happen!: how to
protect the appliances in your home" published by the National
Institute of Standards and Technology (the US government
Both say plug-in surge suppressors are effective. The IEEE guide clearly
describes the protection as clamping the voltage on all wires (power and
signal) to the common ground at the surge suppressor. Earthing is
described as secondary.
Protection which typically uses MOVs which have no good earth ground.
Coincidence isn't necessarily causation and as others noted, given the
nature of the beast, isn't at all straightforward to show that there
would be any direct impact expected. Frustrating, undoubtedly, but
unless they just happen to feel generous on the day they receive the
complaint unless you have something more solid to go on I wouldn't get
my hopes up...
An area of only that size w/ any history different from any other of a
similar size on a statistical basis would be difficult to fathom other
than from some very isolated transmission system fault/cause. If you
were to actually get the data for the outages and look at them over a
period of time for correlation to weather, etc., and could show a high
outage rate, that would probably have some bearing. Some utilities I
have worked with would have such data readily available, but probably
not at such a fine level of detail so to show anything factual would
probably require you keeping records yourself for a while.
It can't be negligence unless they're aware of it, and given the volume
and area they cover, a few extra calls to a given neighborhood are
highly unlikely to raise any flags. As for merit on the specific
claim, that was previously mentioned. As for a willingful neglect or
conscious decision to not, I suspect again that the impugning of motive
is, while comforting, much more an emotional reaction than anything
that could be substantiated. In an ideal world, all problems would be
solved before the occur and nothing would fail, but in reality,
undoubtedly there are service areas suffering far more severe and
frequent outages than your neighborhood and are higher up on the list
of areas needing/receiving service upgrades.
A neighborhood into which I moved back in TN initially had a high
outage rate owing to rapid growth in the area and long, old lines
alongside an access road which went a long a creek bottom. Trees were
a problem as was an undersized substation for the increased load. Took
a few years, but they utility company did get the new substation in and
new lines up. It wasn't neglect that took that long, the plans had
been in place for quite some time, but resources aren't infinite.
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