Lightning damage

Posted on 2006-07-21 06:44

The heat here earlier in the week was awful with highs around 94 and humidity as high as 90% which made it difficult to do anything, but finally a cold front moved through which has brought us back down to reasonable temps. When it rocked through, it brought with it a violent thunderstorm knocking down trees and igniting homes (mostly along the south shore). We just sat in the dark watching out the window and listening to the police scanner. The lightning was intense and at times the sky was continuosly lit by the myriad flashes. Thankfully the kids didn't even wake up, and we had no physical damage to the house, but came to find the next morning that the microwave and the dehumidifier were fried.

Now, the microwave is a Kenmore, over the stove type which we bought 2 years ago when we re-modeled the kitchen. We splurged on this unit since it's an important piece and needed to have fans and filters since we were moving the stove away from the exterior wall. In any case, it wasn't a cheap one and I was - I think - understandably bummed about the fact that it didn't work. Cathy wanted to call the Sears guy, but after we checked the breakers and the outlet which were good, I figured it was just a blown fuse inside and decided to see if I could rip the thing apart and fix it myself. It was out of warranty already, and if we did end up calling the Sears repairman, he'd have to take the thing down to service it anyway.

Over-the-range models mount with two bolts through the top (usually through the floor of the cabinet above, the bolt holes being toward the front of the micro) and the back clips into a hinge along the wall at the back. This one was really light - I was amazed at how light it was actually. There were about a million screws which I thought would have been un-necessary if they had just made a decent service panel - but I think they do this on purpose so you end up giving up and calling Sears repair. There was a huge wonking capacitor in there which was a bit scary, but all the connections to it were well insulated and I just stayed away from it. Anyway, we found a little yellow fuse cover on the AC line and yep, a quick continuity check with a multi-meter proved it was blown. I ran out to Home Depot (which is open till 11pm here!) and grabbed a new pack of two ceramic 250V / 15A fuses ($2.37) the same size as the ones you used to need for your car. Plugged it in and we're back in business.

The Dehumidifier is also a Kenmore, and for reasons like the humidity I described before, it's a necessity here, at least in the basement - but there doesn't seem to be a fuse on this bad boy. For the price of a new dehumidifier (~130?), I think we can set this one out at the road, but at least we're not shelling out another $500 for another microwave :)

We're so careful when there's storms coming through, unplugging the computers and modems, etc. but some stuff is hard to unplug - this microwave plugs in at the back of the cabinet above which means you have to lug out a step-stool to get to it, and there's tons of things like that in the house, you can't unplug everything! I wonder why these two devices were hit, they're not on the same line, and although the micro is on it's own 15A line, other things on the line with the dehumidfier were OK.