On Friday, 22 April, at 7pm, a bolt of lightening struck next to my home and blew out the main breaker (although I didn’t know that at the time). Using my cell phone I put in a call to my power provider, Duke Energy. They did’t show up until 10:30pm and all they did was to tell me that the power was still on on the meter side, and that my main breaker was fried. During that wait for Duke Energy I drove to a local Walmart where I spent $170 on LED lanterns and batteries for everything, along with a complete set of spare batteries.
When Duke Energy told me about the breaker I started to use the browser on my iPhone to look for 24 hour electrical service. I put in four calls to “legacy” electrical companies that advertised 24 hour service before stopping to wait for any call backs. No-one returned my calls. The weather was cool that evening, so the house wasn’t warm, and I kept the fridge and freezer doors closed the whole time. I then fell asleep.
I woke up Saturday around 6pm (or should I say the animals woke me up around 6pm). After feeding them I started looking again on the Internet for an electrician and stumbled upon a service called Thumbtack. To make a long story short, I found an electrician through them, and he was at my home by 7am. Before the day was done I would get three other quotes from different electricians through Thumbtack.
The electrician who answered the call first had his hands full with my electrical problem. The zapped breaker box was built in 1985 from Sylvania parts that aren’t made anymore. After getting the circuit specifications from the existing breakers in the old box he drove to the local Home Depot and bought a new breaker box and replacement GE breakers. He spent the rest of the day physically replacing the old box with the new one and then rewiring the panel. By 6:30PM the new box was wired back in and power restored to the entire house.
Over the next week I discovered the following zapped equipment:
- Digital thermostat. That killed the A/C. I had my A/C guy in on Sunday to replace thermostat. Nothing else was damaged, but he checked it all out anyway just to be sure.
- Garage door opener. I had a Genie Excelerator 1. I purchased a Genie Excelerator 2 at a local Home Depot (as that’s all they had). I spent Sunday from lunch until 9pm crawling around on a ladder, pulling down the old unit and putting in the new.
- Mac Mini Server mid-2012. I’m on wait to go to a local Apple Store to have someone look at it and see if it’s repairable.
- Wireless house phone. Replaced with a new unit from Best Buy.
- Wireless hub. My TP-Link Archer C8 got zapped. Replaced with an ASUS RT-AC68P. Spent a few hours reading the manual and locking it all down.
- Cable modem. That was replaced by Bright House. Unfortunately it took them three trips out to get it all right, replacing the cable modem twice in the process. They also had to come back and bury the cable that was lying above ground in my back yard. Although I can’t prove this, I believe the strike was in the back yard and that it traveled the above-ground cable into the house. The connector is right next to the power on the side of my house.
- Various little things, such as a pair of Apple wall warts and the power supply to a La-Z-Boy electric lounger. That’s the same lounger I used when recovering from my full knee replacement.
- The stove. That’s going to cost me a bit. It was a Kenmore purchased from Sears 21 years ago. I’ve found the updated equivalent, a GE model, which I’ll probably pick up in May. In the mean time I’m grilling and cooking in the crock pot and rice cooker.
One item that helped me get through all of this is my HooToo Tripmate Wireless Travel Router. Among its many amazing features is a built-in 6000ma battery, which I used to keep my iPhone 6S+ charged for the entire time the house was without power. In addition to that ability, the LED lanterns I purchased also had a single USB port built into them for the same purpose of charging cell phones and other devices.
I’d also like to say that Thumbtack was excellent at finding that electrician. I’d called the “legacy” electrical companies first, but it was Thumbtack that came through in finding Alvin Alexander. From my perspective he comes highly recommended. He was working hte entire time and did an excellent job. I’m so glad he answered my call first. You can reach him through Thumbtack or via his email at firstname.lastname@example.org