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Thread: Electrical once in a lifetime

  1. #1
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    Electrical once in a lifetime

    I've been a rural electrician 52 years. I've seen a lot, but not everything.
    I sell Generac generators, mostly home standby.
    Today we went on a mysterious trouble call. Homeowner had noticed his generator worked fine, but insulation was melted on his negative battery cable, & a #6 bonding jumper was severely burned, with 100% of the insulation on it burned away. significant flame damage was done to many other conductors in the system, but I believe none of the others were rendered non serviceable. I'd estimate this #6 would need 150 to 200 amps to get that hot. Generator only produces 60 amps & a very small portion of that should pass over this conductor. The homeowner almost in passing after 1-1/2 hour of studying, trying to understand what happened, mentioned a tree on his power line in March. A large pine tree fell across the 7200 volt high line & the grounded mating line. This would send a partial voltage to the grounded lower line, which is connected to house neutral. It'd pass through the underground service entrance, the meter socket, the transfer switch, out to the generator. Through the center tap of generator windings, & through this jumper to the grounded frame of the machine.

    There's always something that has never happened before!
    Homeowner wanted to know if it's covered under warranty.
    Last edited by Willie B; 1 Week Ago at 09:32 PM.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

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  3. #2
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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    Huh. All kinds of odd things happen... I'd direct the owner to file a homeowners insurance claim not generator warranty...
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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie B View Post
    I've been a rural electrician 52 years. I've seen a lot, but not everything.
    I sell Generac generators, mostly home standby.
    Today we went on a mysterious trouble call. Homeowner had noticed his generator worked fine, but insulation was melted on his negative battery cable, & a #6 bonding jumper was severely burned, with 100% of the insulation on it burned away. significant flame damage was done to many other conductors in the system, but I believe none of the others were rendered non serviceable. I'd estimate this #6 would need 150 to 200 amps to get that hot. Generator only produces 60 amps & a very small portion of that should pass over this conductor. The homeowner almost in passing after 1-1/2 hour of studying, trying to understand what happened, mentioned a tree on his power line in March. A large pine tree fell across the 7200 volt high line & the grounded mating line. This would send a partial voltage to the grounded lower line, which is connected to house neutral. It'd pass through the underground service entrance, the meter socket, the transfer switch, out to the generator. Through the center tap of generator windings, & through this jumper to the grounded frame of the machine.

    There's always something that has never happened before!
    Homeowner wanted to know if it's covered under warranty.
    Whose tree, and whose power lines? Out here, the power company is judged to be responsible for such events, even when it shouldn't be, as when a branch blows sideways 150 feet before shorting the 110,000v lines and starting a fire.

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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    Quote Originally Posted by davec View Post
    Huh. All kinds of odd things happen... I'd direct the owner to file a homeowners insurance claim not generator warranty...
    I did. Trouble now is how to assess other damage. Plenty of electronic components might not show up for a while, Winding insulation might be compromised.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldiron2 View Post
    Whose tree, and whose power lines? Out here, the power company is judged to be responsible for such events, even when it shouldn't be, as when a branch blows sideways 150 feet before shorting the 110,000v lines and starting a fire.
    Those 52 years I mentioned; not once has the power company admitted responsibility for any customer damage. Might sue, but lawyer's fee would easily exceed the price of the generator. Power company calls it "act of God".
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    Dan, I hate when crap like that happens. Most if not all insurance/warranty companies are going to file it under "act of god" which no one covers unless they specifically add "act of god" to their insurance.
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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    Quote Originally Posted by Freebirdwelds View Post
    Dan, I hate when crap like that happens. Most if not all insurance/warranty companies are going to file it under "act of god" which no one covers unless they specifically add "act of god" to their insurance.
    In many cases Homeowner insurance covers only the damage that can be proven now. Then, later the winding fails, no coverage. There is, of course a deductible, typically $500 or $1000.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    Ya got to love it,,,,, oh,,, by the way a tree fell on it, is that important? It aint all home types either. My bud has a call a while back, they want to warrant a machine. They are all irrate, we just bought this friggin machine etc so he get on the plane to show up and tell them that a wild azz forklift driver running over it is not covered.

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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    We wonder whats wrong with American mfg and want to blame China. This is a plant manager with maint dept,,, ha gets there and the manager jumps him,,,, we just bought it,,,, on and on. He said,,, the bollard run over with yellow paint and unit all smashed where a fork ran into it and busted it off the mount, sheared 4 1/2 bolts right off after going thru the gaurd.
    These are the folks somehow get promoted to run a major plant.

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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    My insurance would have a check in the mail before I got it filled out but the agent knows I dont try to pull something. I carry 5K deduct anyway. Rarely turn in deer damage, it would have to be a major event b4 I ever call them.

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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    The Peter Principal states that people who are good at their jobs get promotions until they’re incompetent in the new position. Then, they no longer get a promotion.

    However, the
    Dilbert principle argues that incompetent employees are intentionally promoted to keep them from doing damage in key positions.


    Pick your poison.
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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    That's messed up. That is no act of God. That is power company negligence of the surrounding vegetation unless there was some huge wind event the day it fell. The power company is at fault. It is their line that the power was coming from regardless of how or why it got shorted out.

    Needed a grounded leg surge protector. Lol.

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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    Quote Originally Posted by Roert42 View Post
    The Peter Principal states that people who are good at their jobs get promotions until they’re incompetent in the new position. Then, they no longer get a promotion.

    However, the
    Dilbert principle argues that incompetent employees are intentionally promoted to keep them from doing damage in key positions.


    Pick your poison.
    Teddy Roosevelt was placed in the Vice President office by his enemies. An elitist snob, ultra liberal, the Rockefellers, Morgans, Carnegies hated & feared him. They took action placing him as VP, hoping his political life would stagnate there.

    They gambled he wouldn't become president by default. Very powerful men expect the odds to favor them. In the case of Teddy Roosevelt, their gamble ended in enormous loss.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie B View Post
    Might sue, but lawyer's fee would easily exceed the price of the generator.".
    So you're telling me the guy in another thread who is going to pay a lab to test his supposedly contaminated bottle of argon and then pay court fees and hire lawyers to sue Airgas over a $150 worth of gas is going to come out on the losing end even if he wins the Court case????
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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    Quote Originally Posted by bead-boy View Post
    So you're telling me the guy in another thread who is going to pay a lab to test his supposedly contaminated bottle of argon and then pay court fees and hire lawyers to sue Airgas over a $150 worth of gas is going to come out on the losing end even if he wins the Court case????
    If it is any court I've ever heard of.

    I've been in a court a few times as a witness, never actually been to court where I was winning or losing.

    In one case, I sat on a witness stand. The question was: "Where does the Town Road end, where does the Right Of Way begin?"

    A lawyer asked me: "So,.............it is your position that the Town Road ends at the gate & Mr. Griffith does NOT have the right to access his own land?"

    I replied: "That's two questions, two answers."
    The Judge instructed me to answer with a single yes or no.
    I responded "Two answers. Mr. Griffith has the right to access his property. The Town Road ends at the gate. The rest of his route is ROW. He must maintain his ROW at his expense."

    The Judge cut me off, told the stenographer to strike my answer from the record. "Let the record show the witness refused to answer."


    At a whole different occasion:
    I had been hired to wire a kitchen renovation, I gave a "very rough estimate".
    The job grew, ultimately they renovated every inch of a 5000 square foot house. The project took 19 months to complete. An endless series of additions, alterations took place. I never ceased to be astounded at the extent of renovation. The whole project electrically cost many times my original estimate, but the customer understood it was a time & material job & paid each bill I presented.

    August came. My son who works with me went out of state to a four day service school. My other son was to be married on Saturday. I arrived at the job to see two moving vans. They filled the house with the contents of two houses, each bigger than this one.
    "We've waited long enough. We have guests arriving Sunday. Be finished by then. Oh, & don't step on the floors."
    A four woman cleaning crew arrived minutes later, bitching up a storm that every outlet they plugged a vacuum into didn't work. My explanation that they were a month too early fell on deaf ears.

    Final bill was ignored. When I pursued the owner, he responded he "had paid all he wanted to pay", the final month's work wasn't going to be paid.

    Through constant badgering, he paid on average $1000 a month.

    Meanwhile, I consulted a lawyer, filed a lien. Other tradesmen took their losses.
    At 5-1/2 months, the payments had stopped, a big bill remained unpaid, my lawyer started law suit proceedings. Assured me "There are two judges in the County might hear the case, both take a dim view of customers who choose to not pay their bill." He was confident we would "win".
    Customer hired a big shot female lawyer from another county. She claimed my long history in my county might influence the judge & got it moved two counties north. Essentially, she chose the judge.
    My lawyer was intimidated. "We're going to lose. Better to settle for half."

    We never did go to court
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    There is a YouTube channel called Bobsdecline. The guy is a lineman in Canada and shows all kinds of crazy electrical issues that they encounter. Many involve trees.
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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    There is a YouTube channel called Bobsdecline.
    Watch him all the time, smart guy, good speaker, very easy to listen to...........Mike

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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    I would have expected everything in his house that was electrical to have been fried.

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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie B View Post
    If it is any court I've ever heard of.

    I've been in a court a few times as a witness, ...

    In one case, I sat on a witness stand. The question was: "Where does the Town Road end, where does the Right Of Way begin?"

    A lawyer asked me: "So,.............it is your position that the Town Road ends at the gate & Mr. Griffith does NOT have the right to access his own land?"

    I replied: "That's two questions, two answers."
    The Judge instructed me to answer with a single yes or no.
    I responded "Two answers. Mr. Griffith has the right to access his property. The Town Road ends at the gate. The rest of his route is ROW. He must maintain his ROW at his expense."

    The Judge cut me off, told the stenographer to strike my answer from the record. "Let the record show the witness refused to answer."
    I once worked for a licensed government agency, and was State certified to do certain work there. On my very first Court case, after the voir dire was over, the defense attorney went into a long harangue about the need for and value of licenses, mentioning doctors, dentists, engineers et al, ... he then asked me if I were licensed. Already knowing I was only "certified" wrt to my upcoming testimony, he was very surprised when I answered "Yes" to his question. His follow-up question was "what are you licensed for", to which I replied "driving, fishing, hunting..." and I added that my agency also was "licensed" and I was "certified" by the state to do work there. The court erupted in laughter.
    An almost immediate break was called and the bailiff informed me that the judge wanted to see me in the back room. OK... Well, it turned out his daughter was in the same college I'd attended, his family had been there for the spring celebration, and he had been impressed with the old-fashioned atmosphere of the campus...and oh, by the way...I had made that attorney look like the turkey he was acting like...

    In another case, I was asked for a yes-no answer to a similar complex question. After my hesitating, the judge asked me to answer, to which I replied that I'd sworn to provide "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" and because a simple answer would be misleading, I had to explain the situation. The judge then told me to do so, and I gave the explanation.

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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    Quote Originally Posted by Denis G View Post
    I would have expected everything in his house that was electrical to have been fried.
    Exactly. With that much voltage and amperage bleeding off how was the 120 volt returning to the neutral properly for everything that existed on 120 to not get smoked up in todays world of micro processors in everything.

    ...and on what day did God install the high tension lines.

    High tension lines shorting out probably not. Lightning is a act of God.
    Last edited by danielplace; 6 Days Ago at 04:09 PM.

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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldiron2 View Post
    I once worked for a licensed government agency, and was State certified to do certain work there. On my very first Court case, after the voir dire was over, the defense attorney went into a long harangue about the need for and value of licenses, mentioning doctors, dentists, engineers et al, ... he then asked me if I were licensed. Already knowing I was only "certified" wrt to my upcoming testimony, he was very surprised when I answered "Yes" to his question. His follow-up question was "what are you licensed for", to which I replied "driving, fishing, hunting..." and I added that my agency also was "licensed" and I was "certified" by the state to do work there. The court erupted in laughter.
    An almost immediate break was called and the bailiff informed me that the judge wanted to see me in the back room. OK... Well, it turned out his daughter was in the same college I'd attended, his family had been there for the spring celebration, and he had been impressed with the old-fashioned atmosphere of the campus...and oh, by the way...I had made that attorney look like the turkey he was acting like...

    In another case, I was asked for a yes-no answer to a similar complex question. After my hesitating, the judge asked me to answer, to which I replied that I'd sworn to provide "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" and because a simple answer would be misleading, I had to explain the situation. The judge then told me to do so, and I gave the explanation.
    In my case, the judge was a drunk. He had been arrested numerous times for DUI. The lawyer asking the questions was Chair of the Vermont House Judiciary Committee, The lawyer was responsible for the Judge remaining seated & the Judge had favors to repay. He had no interest in a "fair" decision.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  24. #22
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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    Quote Originally Posted by danielplace View Post
    Exactly. With that much voltage and amperage bleeding off how was the 120 volt returning to the neutral properly for everything that existed on 120 to not get smoked up in todays world of micro processors in everything.

    ...and on what day did God install the high tension lines.

    High tension lines shorting out probably not. Lightning is a act of God.
    I can't say.
    I also only theorize why a #6 bonding jumper burned its entire length. What I don't even theorize is the negative battery cable (#4) was less severely burned, but obviously overheated its entire length. Both were electrically intact still with little resistance. A negative battery cable runs from the crankcase of the engine to the battery. What runs to the battery by way of the negative must return by the positive. I'd have expected the positive cable to be scorched also & the battery exploded, or displaying other damage, not the case.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie B View Post
    I can't say.
    I also only theorize why a #6 bonding jumper burned its entire length. What I don't even theorize is the negative battery cable (#4) was less severely burned, but obviously overheated its entire length. Both were electrically intact still with little resistance. A negative battery cable runs from the crankcase of the engine to the battery. What runs to the battery by way of the negative must return by the positive. I'd have expected the positive cable to be scorched also & the battery exploded, or displaying other damage, not the case.
    Oh for sure that is one of the strangest ones you may never figure out or fully understand. Just friggin' weird stuff man. Luckily no one got seriously injured with that kind of potential on the grounding system the potential(lol) for someone to get zapped really bad surely existed.

  26. #24
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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    Quote Originally Posted by Denis G View Post
    I would have expected everything in his house that was electrical to have been fried.
    Yeah, me too. They reported no damage in the house.

    Through the years I've observed more than average lightning damage to houses on the dead end of power lines. One elderly couple lost two homes to fire at the end of a line. My guess is lightning hits a power line & there aren't other homes to share the surge.
    I installed carbon ball lightning arrestor & a whole house surge arrestor.

    The owner called me later to complain "That surge arrestor didn't work."
    I went there. The 3/4" plywood behind the surge arrestor mounted on the outside of the breaker panel had a blast hole in it. The back of the surge arrestor was violently blown out, front looked OK. Other damage was limited to a GFCI outlet in a bathroom wouldn't reset, I still don't know if it was related.
    I argued that he lost two houses to lightning before. This time he lost a $140. surge arrestor, it'd served its purpose & gave its life doing so.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  27. #25
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    Re: Electrical once in a lifetime

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie B View Post
    If it is any court I've ever heard of.

    I've been in a court a few times as a witness, never actually been to court where I was winning or losing.

    In one case, I sat on a witness stand. The question was: "Where does the Town Road end, where does the Right Of Way begin?"

    A lawyer asked me: "So,.............it is your position that the Town Road ends at the gate & Mr. Griffith does NOT have the right to access his own land?"

    I replied: "That's two questions, two answers."
    The Judge instructed me to answer with a single yes or no.
    I responded "Two answers. Mr. Griffith has the right to access his property. The Town Road ends at the gate. The rest of his route is ROW. He must maintain his ROW at his expense."

    The Judge cut me off, told the stenographer to strike my answer from the record. "Let the record show the witness refused to answer."


    At a whole different occasion:
    I had been hired to wire a kitchen renovation, I gave a "very rough estimate".
    The job grew, ultimately they renovated every inch of a 5000 square foot house. The project took 19 months to complete. An endless series of additions, alterations took place. I never ceased to be astounded at the extent of renovation. The whole project electrically cost many times my original estimate, but the customer understood it was a time & material job & paid each bill I presented.

    August came. My son who works with me went out of state to a four day service school. My other son was to be married on Saturday. I arrived at the job to see two moving vans. They filled the house with the contents of two houses, each bigger than this one.
    "We've waited long enough. We have guests arriving Sunday. Be finished by then. Oh, & don't step on the floors."
    A four woman cleaning crew arrived minutes later, bitching up a storm that every outlet they plugged a vacuum into didn't work. My explanation that they were a month too early fell on deaf ears.

    Final bill was ignored. When I pursued the owner, he responded he "had paid all he wanted to pay", the final month's work wasn't going to be paid.

    Through constant badgering, he paid on average $1000 a month.

    Meanwhile, I consulted a lawyer, filed a lien. Other tradesmen took their losses.
    At 5-1/2 months, the payments had stopped, a big bill remained unpaid, my lawyer started law suit proceedings. Assured me "There are two judges in the County might hear the case, both take a dim view of customers who choose to not pay their bill." He was confident we would "win".
    Customer hired a big shot female lawyer from another county. She claimed my long history in my county might influence the judge & got it moved two counties north. Essentially, she chose the judge.
    My lawyer was intimidated. "We're going to lose. Better to settle for half."

    We never did go to court
    With stories like that I always hope for karma, all the more when the system fails.

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