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ColeLT1
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House struck by lightning

Thu Sep 27, 2018 2:22 pm

So just to say this first, I am incredibly happy and lucky that my house didn't burn down, my dogs are safe, my GF and her kids were not home. I took off early yesterday to meet the washer repair man at my house, and noticed my office lights would not turn on. Proceeded to reset two tripped breakers and was able to restore power. Then I notice I have a major (lack of) internet issue and worked with the provider to get a new gateway shipped out as it is dead.

Then a neighbor texted me that I should look at my roof:
https://imgur.com/a/TrMwoEt

I only had a couple of hours after dealing with my roof (tarp) to assess the damage. List of dead devices so far:
7700k/1080ti gaming rig = dead NIC
4670k/1050ti HTPC/server = dead NIC
8 port switch = no power, tested a different power brick too
8 port switch = 1 dead port
PS3 fat "80gb" (320gb) with PS2 emulation = beeps, turns off
ASUS AC1300 RT-ACRH13 = no power
Kitchen Fridge/Freezer = killed the ice maker
TV and internet gateway = dead, new one should be at my doorstep now
Roku 55in TV = works, but it is blinking a light at me, hope it is just a "no internet" warning.
iPhone power brick = dead (I know... huge loss)

Besides structural damage, it appears to have done more network damage than electric wiring, going to press that they cover a rewire of my house network cables.

They said since they are custom built computers, I have to replace the motherboards on them myself, or take to a PC repair shop (no thanks). With a $5k cap on personal electronics per claim I don't want to waste money there.

So what else should I be looking at, that is less obvious that I need to test. Anyone who has been through anything similar I am open to suggestions/advice. I have a ton more electronics to inspect this weekend, Nintendo Switch, Wii, 3 more TVs, 3 laptops and a mining rig. It is really hard to tell what works and does not, like my camera system that needs WIFI back running to connect. I already have a the claim started, adjuster will contact me soon, and the roofer, electrician, and a recommended licensed general contractor on standby.

... I just realized I have not checked my storage room deep freeze yet :(
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Re: House struck by lightning

Thu Sep 27, 2018 2:48 pm

glad you are ok.

i would also check water heater, furnace/heating board/AC (depending on where you from), smoke detectors (if they are wired), sprinker system. Also powertools in the garage/shed that may have remained hooked up.

basically check your breakerbox, and identify everything and everywhere it goes. then check everything that was connected to that line.
good luck
 
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Re: House struck by lightning

Thu Sep 27, 2018 2:52 pm

I went through this once, maybe not quite as severely though. So much dead network equipment, everything hooked up to coax too. Your list looks pretty good based on my recollection.

I had a heck of a time working out what to do about PC components though. Like, it was totally a curse to know I could fix things myself. I never ran up against a dollar cap, but, because I knew what I was doing, I probably only got a couple thousand dollars of things replaced - even though I knew someone less savvy would probably have gotten more like $10k worth of stuff replaced. It felt good to take the high ground, but it also felt like being punished for my knowledge.

Good luck!
 
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Re: House struck by lightning

Thu Sep 27, 2018 3:23 pm

Look for hidden damage to all electrical, water, and gas lines, especially if they run through the attic space or walls near the incursion point. The electricity can arc back and forth between conductive materials and cause damage that may not be obvious now, but will result in a catastrophic failure later.
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superjawes
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Re: House struck by lightning

Thu Sep 27, 2018 3:27 pm

I second/third the "glad you are okay" comments. Heck, I'm glad your house didn't catch fire from the strike, too.

You might see if you can get an electrical inspector to come by. They might have a process for this exact scenario. If nothing else, they might have a better idea for the less visible effects of the strike to find all the little things you haven't thought of.

And watch out for insurance. We were burglarized last year and had to replace things. Our claim was filed with replacement cost and age of each item, and then insurance devalued every item based on its age. In other words, even though several things were already devalued based on the replacement cost we provided, they took an additional percentage off. We got the "full" replacement cost for anything we re-purchased, but it was frustrating to see them wiggle the numbers down as much as they could.
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Re: House struck by lightning

Thu Sep 27, 2018 4:59 pm

I agree with an independent assessment. Glad you are ok.
 
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Re: House struck by lightning

Thu Sep 27, 2018 5:37 pm

My parents had something similar happen several years ago. Dad was out of town on a business trip, which added to the "fun". So, my parents live on a 165ish acre cattle farm that mom's brother owns. Their yard, at the time, had several large red oaks that provided wonderful shade. One afternoon a very intense pop-up storm settled over the property, and the largest/tallest red oak closest to the house (approximately 20-25' from the living room windows) too a direct hit from a bolt. The top of the tree basically exploded. I've never quite seen anything like it. With dad out of town, I went out to check on mom, make sure the roof was good from all the large limbs on it, and see if mom needed anything/wanted to lock up and stay with us. When I got there (15 minute drive), she was testing out lights and other devices. So, she gets to the electric range in the kitchen...turns the knob for one of the eyes/elements...and the kitchen lights come on. We both give each other an instant WTF look. She turns the eye off...the lights go out. Turns the eye on...the lights come on. We had the electric co-op send a local linesman out, and he basically said everything on the outside checked out, but he could not make an assessment of anything past that/inside. The next day, a local electrician comes out and discovers that the main breaker at the top of the panel (I don't know the technical term, sorry) that would kill power and all the smaller/regular breakers below it was actually split. It was too dark that night to see it, but in the daylight you could see an obvious crack all the way down it. Now, how this was causing something crazy like the electric range knobs to turn on overhead lights, I don't claim to understand. But, I said all that to say: carefully inspect any/all breaker boxes/panels for such damage. Glad you are okay, and hope this helps a little.
 
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Re: House struck by lightning

Thu Sep 27, 2018 7:01 pm

ColeLT1 wrote:

So what else should I be looking at..(


hmm..

Check breakers (..though I wouldn't "flip" them back into operation without thoroughly checking everything they are connected to including the wiring and sockets for any signs of damage). Then look to all plugged-in or "tied" in electrical appliances/components. Look for blown fuses (or obvious signs of damage). Beware of electrical plugs (both in-wall and extension cords).

Other than the obvious appliances, lights etc.. look to your Hvac/Heat system (thermostats and control boards) & water heaters.

Take pictures of everything w/ time/date stamp.


(..and of course like others - glad to hear no harm to you or others, but quite a bummer about all the damage discovered so far.)


Probably best to re-read your policy very deliberately again to make sure what you think is covered (and for how much), and call your provider for them to come-out and do an assessment. (..you can always haggle over the results later, and higher a lawyer if necessary.)
 
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Re: House struck by lightning

Thu Sep 27, 2018 8:41 pm

Pagey wrote:
My parents had something similar happen several years ago. Dad was out of town on a business trip, which added to the "fun". So, my parents live on a 165ish acre cattle farm that mom's brother owns. Their yard, at the time, had several large red oaks that provided wonderful shade. One afternoon a very intense pop-up storm settled over the property, and the largest/tallest red oak closest to the house (approximately 20-25' from the living room windows) too a direct hit from a bolt. The top of the tree basically exploded. I've never quite seen anything like it. With dad out of town, I went out to check on mom, make sure the roof was good from all the large limbs on it, and see if mom needed anything/wanted to lock up and stay with us. When I got there (15 minute drive), she was testing out lights and other devices. So, she gets to the electric range in the kitchen...turns the knob for one of the eyes/elements...and the kitchen lights come on. We both give each other an instant WTF look. She turns the eye off...the lights go out. Turns the eye on...the lights come on. We had the electric co-op send a local linesman out, and he basically said everything on the outside checked out, but he could not make an assessment of anything past that/inside. The next day, a local electrician comes out and discovers that the main breaker at the top of the panel (I don't know the technical term, sorry) that would kill power and all the smaller/regular breakers below it was actually split. It was too dark that night to see it, but in the daylight you could see an obvious crack all the way down it. Now, how this was causing something crazy like the electric range knobs to turn on overhead lights, I don't claim to understand. But, I said all that to say: carefully inspect any/all breaker boxes/panels for such damage. Glad you are okay, and hope this helps a little.

...okay, this is interesting enough that I would love to check it out personally, or at least see a schematic of the house wiring. Basically, the range was acting as a switch, completing the circuit path through the kitchen lights. My best guess (again, without looking) is that the range was on 240 V, and somehow the cracked breaker was breaking one of the 3 "normal" path(s). That means you were either putting 240 V across the kitchen lights, or the range was only getting 120 V. In the latter case, I would expect some circuits in the house to be entirely nonfunctional.
On second thought, let's not go to TechReport. Tis a silly place.
 
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Re: House struck by lightning

Thu Sep 27, 2018 9:53 pm

superjawes wrote:
Pagey wrote:
That means you were either putting 240 V across the kitchen lights, or the range was only getting 120 V. In the latter case, I would expect some circuits in the house to be entirely nonfunctional.

The latter, most likely. Assume North American standard split-phase service with center-potential neutral. L1 & L2 are switched by the Main Breaker. Neutral is permanent. Cracked breaker plus wacky behavior means one phase is open from the source - say, L2. Kitchen light is on L2 and the switch is still on, but nobody knows it because the light is off. Someone turns on a 240V circuit load and L1 energizes the L2 bus bar through the range load, which then follows any available 120V L2 load paths back to neutral.
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Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Sep 28, 2018 1:20 am

... get certified outside adjuster to give you estimate, if necessary electrical/HVAC contractor to run your numbers to the max. If you know the person who will do the wiring/inspection - let them handle the claim, after insurance agrees, cap or no cap they will have to pay contractor for the job done, even if he missed something during preliminary estimate. Custom/home made equpment - just take your monies and run, not much can be done without outside estimator. Get closest store equivalent if you have to, sell it later and get what you want. Claim EVERYTHING what even tries to look at you funny. Your insurance will go up one way or another, so make a best of it. Obviously few extra ground rods and tree(s) above the rooftop will be nice addition. Seen lightning damage reimbursement going both ways from everything blanketly to barely covered major damage.
 
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Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Sep 28, 2018 4:33 am

@Pagey - Other posters seem to be on the right track (ludi nailed it).

Electric stoves and other large appliances are typically 240V, and this voltage is obtained by wiring the stove across the two "hot" legs of a 120V split phase power system. Because of the way a split phase system is wired, if one of the phases gets fried (as appears to have happened with your parents' house), then turning on the stove would bridge the good phase to the bad phase (through the stove burner element). As long as the load on the bad phase is small relative to the stove, then that phase will draw power through the stove (at slightly below nominal voltage, due to the resistance of the heater element), while the stove will run at only a small fraction of its nominal power (since it is running on only one phase, and the current it can draw is limited by the resistance of the light bulbs). I imagine the stove barely even got warm (don't know if you checked).

On the Wikipedia page I linked, take a look at Figure 1. The lights were connected to V1, and the stove was connected to V1+V2. The lightning strike blew out V1 at the breaker box (which would've been wired between the transformer and the loads). Turning on the stove allows power to flow from V2, through the lights connected to V1, to ground.
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Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Sep 28, 2018 4:39 am

A number of years back, a co-worker had lightning strike a tree in his front lawn, setting it on fire. When the fire department tried to put out the tree, they discovered that the fire was also being fed by a gas line next to the tree, which had been damaged by the strike. Pretty big mess. In terms of electronics damage, IIRC he only lost his cable modem and a couple of ports on an Ethernet switch though.
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ColeLT1
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Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:24 am

Thank you for all the suggestions! My new gateway was delayed until Tuesday (and they increased my bill by removing my free equipment rental deal, how nice of them) so some things that run on WIFI that are headless (IP cams, etc) will have to wait. Found my roomba isn't charging but not anything else last night. I have gas appliances, range and oven, I think my only 240v is my clothes dryer, will test that. Once the adjuster comes out I am going to get the general contractor and electrician check every plug and breaker box.
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Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:29 am

I'm glad no one was hurt and your losses were minor.
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Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:03 am

Reading a little more, I'd be tempted to replace the entire main panel and brand new breakers. That's pretty easy to DIY and not too expensive.
 
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Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:16 am

Glad to hear you're just replacing small things instead of an entire house.

Out of curiosity, were any of your appliances hooked up to surge protectors?
And while you're poking around the breaker box, have you considered installing a HEPD? Example: https://www.homedepot.com/p/203540660
 
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Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:14 am

Computers were on surge protectors, but the Ethernet cords were not.
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Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:49 am

just brew it! wrote:
@Pagey - Other posters seem to be on the right track (ludi nailed it).

Electric stoves and other large appliances are typically 240V, and this voltage is obtained by wiring the stove across the two "hot" legs of a 120V split phase power system. Because of the way a split phase system is wired, if one of the phases gets fried (as appears to have happened with your parents' house), then turning on the stove would bridge the good phase to the bad phase (through the stove burner element). As long as the load on the bad phase is small relative to the stove, then that phase will draw power through the stove (at slightly below nominal voltage, due to the resistance of the heater element), while the stove will run at only a small fraction of its nominal power (since it is running on only one phase, and the current it can draw is limited by the resistance of the light bulbs). I imagine the stove barely even got warm (don't know if you checked).

On the Wikipedia page I linked, take a look at Figure 1. The lights were connected to V1, and the stove was connected to V1+V2. The lightning strike blew out V1 at the breaker box (which would've been wired between the transformer and the loads). Turning on the stove allows power to flow from V2, through the lights connected to V1, to ground.

This is also why despite being connected at the panel the neutral and ground lines are NOT redundant, in a fault condition like this the neutral line can become dangerously energized.
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Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:12 am

FWIW, while adding lightning protection to a home is "expensive" replacing everything inside of a house is even more so (plus the risk of a damaged appliance setting a fire).

I would highly recommend getting lightning protection installed: lightning rods, proper grounding runs on all corners, and a whole house surge arrester. I have it on my house being on top of an exposed hill.

I have had to re-sharpen two rods since we lived in the house due to direct strikes melting off the tips. The only problems is 3 lost DSL modem/routers (phone line is not protected in the same way), and several tripped GFI breakers that were a simple re-set.

The trees around the house? Another matter.
 
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Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:06 pm

liquidsquid wrote:
FWIW, while adding lightning protection to a home is "expensive" replacing everything inside of a house is even more so (plus the risk of a damaged appliance setting a fire).

I would highly recommend getting lightning protection installed: lightning rods, proper grounding runs on all corners, and a whole house surge arrester. I have it on my house being on top of an exposed hill.

I have had to re-sharpen two rods since we lived in the house due to direct strikes melting off the tips. The only problems is 3 lost DSL modem/routers (phone line is not protected in the same way), and several tripped GFI breakers that were a simple re-set.

The trees around the house? Another matter.


Well, obviously, the solution is lightning rods on the trees, and then of course lightning rods on the lighting rods on the trees. :lol:
 
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Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:40 pm

Duct Tape Dude wrote:
Out of curiosity, were any of your appliances hooked up to surge protectors?


Surge protectors protect against surges in the electrical grid. Like 1000V surges or whatever.

A lightning strike has a potential of 300,000+ volts. In fact, lightning travels through OXYGEN to reach your house, no lol surge protector can protect against that. Oxygen is one of the best protectors against electricity on the planet, with an effective resistance exceeding multiple gigaohms per inch.

The only way to protect against lightning strikes is to route the lightning elsewhere. Lightning rods can be hit by lightning because its cheaper to replace a lightning rod than to replace anything else.
 
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Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:51 pm

dragontamer5788 wrote:
The only way to protect against lightning strikes is to route the lightning elsewhere. Lightning rods can be hit by lightning because its cheaper to replace a lightning rod than to replace anything else.

A point, though: while a direct stroke to the structure will blow up whatever it well pleases, an indirect strike to a nearby yard or even a lightning mast can sometimes cause induced potential or ground-rise potential to appear on the AC mains. A surge protector isn't a cure-all but it will help. The most reliable type isn't a power strip, though, it's a whole-house protector installed at the box. Unfortunately, a retrofit does require a spare 240V breaker position which many older installations do not have.
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Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:52 pm

ludi wrote:
dragontamer5788 wrote:
The only way to protect against lightning strikes is to route the lightning elsewhere. Lightning rods can be hit by lightning because its cheaper to replace a lightning rod than to replace anything else.

A point, though: while a direct stroke to the structure will blow up whatever it well pleases, an indirect strike to a nearby yard or even a lightning mast can sometimes cause induced potential or ground-rise potential to appear on the AC mains. A surge protector isn't a cure-all but it will help. The most reliable type isn't a power strip, though, it's a whole-house protector installed at the box. Unfortunately, a retrofit does require a spare 240V breaker position which many older installations do not have.


Oh yeah, that's a good point. There are plenty of good reasons to have a surge-protector (and its relatively common to have load-dumps affect the electrical grid: turning on or off your AC or even a dehumidifier will cause voltage spikes alone and you should have a surge-protector for those cases).

But my main point is that you can't stop a direct-blast of lightning. Its just too powerful. Its a beautiful display of nature, and you're completely screwed if it happens to target you.
 
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Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Sep 28, 2018 2:24 pm

dragontamer5788 wrote:
Duct Tape Dude wrote:
Out of curiosity, were any of your appliances hooked up to surge protectors?


Surge protectors protect against surges in the electrical grid. Like 1000V surges or whatever.

A lightning strike has a potential of 300,000+ volts. In fact, lightning travels through OXYGEN to reach your house, no lol surge protector can protect against that. Oxygen is one of the best protectors against electricity on the planet, with an effective resistance exceeding multiple gigaohms per inch.

The only way to protect against lightning strikes is to route the lightning elsewhere. Lightning rods can be hit by lightning because its cheaper to replace a lightning rod than to replace anything else.


Oxygen insulation, Sort-of... somewhat dependent on air pressure too.
When the potential is great enough, a chunk of ionized gas will drill a hole through that insulative mix of air in the atmosphere (leader). One end drills from the ground, the other from the storm (trigger by cosmic ray?) when they reach out and touch one another... the overall conductivity is much better than unionized air. so it is really a dynamic thing.
And voltage potentials can get in the millions across the entire span of a discharge event, but you have to think of it in volts per unit distance. A sunny day may have about 100V per meter. During a storm, this goes way up (duh!) to a few thousand a meter. A towering storm can develop a hell of a potential over the distance between the ice-forming part of a cloud and ground.

Crawler (horizontal) lighting can be enormously long, but had a relatively low total voltage potential over the vast distance of mikes "only" 600KV, where a positive CG strike can have huge 10MV potentials over just a 60K ft distance. The crawler is a cascade event of multiple series strikes, the positive CG is one giant staccato spark.

Obviously the positive CG is FAR more destructive as these thing's peak currents can be in the 250KA or more per pulse with very fast rise times. There can be enough magnetic power in the current channel to force AC current "backwards" down power transmission lines just by being nearby, let alone what it does to that 3.3V circuitry on a PCB in the same house where the strike occurred.

One thing I don't have a handle on is when "sprites" come into play, and how they may supercharge a strike. Rare events happen on the ocean called "super bolts" and have an estimated peak current in the 10's of millions of amps. I suspect they are fueled by sprites. These things will blow holes in the tops of aircraft carriers.

All cool stuff. Been studying and playing with HV for more years than I care to admit.
 
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Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:19 pm

Holy crap! Glad everyone is okay (and most of your stuff).

For the dead NICs, I'd be tempted just to add cheap PCIe NICs to each machine and move on with it. Definitely have an electrician come through and check everything they can before settling your claim!
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Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:29 pm

About ten years ago, shortly after we moved into our new house, we had a lightning strike. Our house was saved by our mailbox's brave sacrifice and the only effect was one bedroom's breaker flipping. The mailbox, however, had a large divot blasted out of it and left shattered masonry all around the front yard. Under the outer layer of brick and mortar was a reinforcing layer of chicken wire that attracted Zeus's bolt and protected us and ours.
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Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:20 pm

liquidsquid wrote:
...science...

All that awesome data, and no link to the video?
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Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Oct 05, 2018 10:16 am

7700k/1080ti gaming rig = dead NIC
4670k/1050ti HTPC/server = dead NIC
8 port switch = no power, tested a different power brick too
8 port switch = 1 dead port <-- nope, all dead
PS3 fat "80gb" (320gb) with PS2 emulation = beeps, turns off
ASUS AC1300 RT-ACRH13 = no power
Kitchen Fridge/Freezer = killed the ice maker
TV and internet gateway = dead, new one should be at my doorstep now
Roku 55in TV = works, but it is blinking a light at me, hope it is just a "no internet" warning.
iPhone power brick = dead (I know... huge loss)


A few more dead devices found:

Roomba
Wii
60in LED TV
powered subwoofer

Got my internet back up and running, replaced all Ethernet wires with new cat6 drops, making progress. Contractor and roofers are starting next week.
Main: I9-9900K@5.1Ghz 1.25v/16GB DDR4-3600 15-15-15-35/RTX2080/500gb 970evox2/Custom Waterloop/Corsair 570x/AX1200i
Server: I7-7700K@5.0Ghz 1.35v/16GB DDR4-3600 16-16-16-36/GTX1050ti/500gb 960evo/WD RED 6TBx2/Hyper212LED/Corsair 800d/RM850
 
BIF
Gold subscriber
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
Posts: 2440
Joined: Tue May 25, 2004 7:41 pm

Re: House struck by lightning

Fri Oct 05, 2018 5:50 pm

Holy carp, that's a hole in your roof!

Forget phasers, maybe we should be working on lightning weapons!

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