Friday, August 26, 2011

Lightning Sucks!

Our house got hit by a bolt of lightning last Thursday night, Aug. 18. It was part of a storm that knocked power out to all of the neighbors' houses that we could see. When power was restored a few hours later we noticed a couple of things weren't coming back on like they should have. A week later, some of the items have been fixed or replaced while other things remain out of action. Off the top of my head, here's what I can think of:

Garage door openers - We lost two of these. Right now we're just parking the cars in the driveway and raising the garage doors manually when we need to. Gonna set us back about $350 to replace both. Update: I finally got around to installing one new garage door opener last week that my brother-in-law gave us.

iPod - Fried. It was plugged into a charger and took a hit. Wondering now if I should buy a new one or upgrade my crappy Razr phone to something that can hold all of our music. Update: Yes, I used this as inspiration to buy an iPhone 4 in November and I couldn't be happier with my decision.

Phone system - Our land line phone system is wasted. Took out the base as well as the two satellite phones. Going to cost about $75 to buy a comparable system. Probably replace this soon. Update: Ended up buying an inexpensive cordless phone set from Best Buy.

Air conditioner - Took out the programmable thermostat and the blower (?) in the condenser unit. An A/C company came out the next day and loaned us some temporary replacement parts to keep everything running. They are supposed to come out next week and put in the permanent replacements to the tune of about $600. Update: This turned out to be a rather expensive proposition. The condenser was okay, but he had to put a new electronic panel in the system as well as replace something (a heat pump?) in the heating system. Took a couple of trips out here, too, as stuff was installed as it came in from the special orders. Ugh.

Televisions - Thankfully, the TVs were spared. But we did have some damage to the satellite itself (fixed for free by DirecTV) and it fried the HDMI input on one TV. DirecTV repairman suggested trying the red/blue/green component cables and everything works fine now. Phew!

Computers - My laptop was thankfully spared. The kids laptop is out of service. Won't even turn on. They've only had it since Christmas. I wonder if it's under some kind of warranty? Update: Turns out the kids' computer was okay except for the input where the power plugs in. A local computer repair shop fixed it for about $25. Hooray!

Internet - I wasn't getting any power to the modem so my internet provider, Hughes Net, sent us a new one. 5-6 days later, the new one arrived, but it wasn't receiving a signal from the dish. After an hour with the customer no-service representative, he told me he'd have to send out a repairman (flat $125 fee) to manually investigate. They're supposed to call me back in 4-5 business days to set up the appointment. I'm thinking I'll be down 3 weeks. Epic suck and I'm already relishing the thought of dumping a pile of electronics on the counter at the Hughes Net office the day my 2-year commitment is up. Update: I was angry when I typed that. Even though the guy on the phone told me there would be charges involved in the repair, I was never billed for anything. So I guess it turned out okay after all. That being said, I'm still really disappointed with the satellite internet we get out here in the country.

Wii - This is just flat-out bizarre. The Wii hasn't worked in a couple of months. No power. Nothing. But since the strike the damn thing magically works again! I was looking at the tv in the basement and out of the corner of my eye I see the light back on on the Wii. Someone cue the Twilight Zone music......

The electrician came out the next morning to assess the situation and tell us about all the water we found pouring into our breaker box during the storm. Thankfully, the water didn't cause any real damage. He dried everything out and told us where we should put silicone around some conduit outside. This was a really freak storm that blew in from the north. Storms here never come in from that direction. That's probably why we experienced the leaky conduit.

I think the kids lost their iPod dock/alarm clock, too. I figure we're looking at around $1500 to get everything repaired/fixed. Not the end of the world, but nothing to sneeze at, either. If anything, it'll just drastically cut into our discretionary spending for the next couple of months. So if you don't see many wine notes up here for a while, you'll know why!

I suppose we could file a claim with our insurance agent, but we've got a $1000 deductible so we'd still be picking up the majority of the tab. And I hate the idea of filing a claim over $500 in a day and age when insurance companies are just looking for reasons to drop customers. Nope, I think I'll hold off on the claim and wait until (hopefully never!) we need for State Farm to cover a catastrophic loss.

We're kind of bummed, but we're keeping it all in perspective as we've had friends and family members recently experience a lot more tragedy than a fried iPod or $200 bill from an electrician. In the grand scheme of things, this is nothing compared to a classmate losing a limb to cancer or losing a dear friend serving his country in the Middle East.

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