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Old 07-15-2015, 02:20 PM   #1
ShinyPete's Avatar
2014 27' Flying Cloud
Bushnell , Florida
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 413
Lightning Strike/Electrical Surge Damage

This is a post about recent Lightning damage that happened to our house and our Airstream, a 2014 27FB Flying Cloud that we call "Pete". We live in central Florida, and sometimes experience multiple lightning strikes in front of incoming storms. This is a long post, but I decided to share it for those that may have to troubleshoot something similar in the future. And as a reminder to everyone to please be careful when it is thundering.

Several weeks ago we had a lightning strike at our house that followed an unused but still in place buried telephone cable down our dirt road. Apparently the lightning struck either that cable or a tree near it somewhere along the 1/4 mile road, and the resulting surge through the cable/ground path did some serious damage. I was standing in our detached garage when the "explosion" occurred. My left ear hurt for 3 days.............. Thank the Lord I was in the garage and not in the pole barn where the camper was, as I had been 3 minutes earlier.......

As best as I can tell, the surge from that phone cable arced out of the wall mounted phone cable box (melting it) and knocked the metal gutter off the garage eave above it. A large electrical surge must have been in the ground, and got the buried cable TV line and the buried 120v wire from the garage to the pole barn. I lost the dvr and cable modem attached to the cable line, and both ends of the 120v wire from the garage to the pole barn "exploded" where the arc apparently left the neutral and went to ground - blowing holes in the wire. The power cable plugged into the 30amp RV plug in the pole barn to Pete blew apart at the neutral about mid way to the coach, and of course tripped the feed breakers in the garage and inside Pete.

I lost 2 of the 3 electronic ballasts on one side of the garage lighting, and one garage door opener. Pete had it worse - I lost the A/C control board, the SeeLevel control panel, both led lighting dimmer switches, and the mentioned damaged power cord. No breakers in the coach were damaged and no fuses blew. Everything it took out in the house, garage and in the coach was control board related. Thankfully, there was no other damage. All other 120v and 12v systems in the coach still worked. If I had the portable surge protector I use when camping plugged in I'm sure it would have blown, and maybe saved some other items from damage. (Funny, it's plugged in now )

It took a while to troubleshoot everything and obtain replacement parts, and I have recently completed replacing/repairing all items on the list in Pete and in the garage. Also, the buried telephone cable has been cut loose at both ends. Electronic control boards do not like surges............. And again, please be careful when it is thundering outside. I really was blessed to not be 60' away in that pole barn when that lightning hit.
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Old 07-15-2015, 02:35 PM   #2
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2012 25' FB Eddie Bauer
Vintage Kin Owner
Virginia Beach , Virginia
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 7,801
Thank you for sharing - a valuable reminder for us all.

The stuff we don't know about that is underground can be absolutely lethal. The Romans built roads all over their empire and frequently used slag from their rather crude iron ore furnaces as a filler. There was so much iron left in the slag that the roads themselves were lightening magnets and paths. In WWII there were downright eerie reports of lightening hitting the ground in England near American bases and burning the grass in a straight line often for miles... dig down a few feet and there it was, a Roman Road lost to time.

Pulling up that cable would probably never be economical but at least with the ends terminated away from your property there's less chance of another strike damaging your house or Airstream.

Glad it wasn't worse!

Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present.
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