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I recently had a power surge that knocked out half my appliances. The electrical provider identified the problem (lack of neutral caused by corroded insullation on the underground lines running from the transformer at the street to our house) and they dug up repaired the line in three places. They have also indicated that they will pay for damaged appliances. It will run into the thousands of dollars. We were all lucky that the house did not catch on fire! My concern is three-fold:
1. What is the "proper" level of compensation for such appliances. Should this be determined by the replacement value or should the items be depreciated according to age? Who determines what is fair? How is latent damage addressed? When an applaince is new and still covered under warranty and reparied at no cost, what is the future indemnification of the utility should this appliance fail within the next 2-3 years (once it is "out of warranty)? My homeowners insurance is going to take a position that any future electrical defects are tied to this intance.
2. How can I determine the integrity of the wiring of my home? The smell of burnt wiring permeated our home --- even in areas where there was no evident damage to appliances. How will I know that I wont' have future problems with outlets/switches? Could there be a fire hazard from damage to the sheathing on in-wall wiring? I have contacted several electrical contractors and they indicate that they don't know of any way to check in-wall wiring for possible latent damage.
3. Are there particular problems that I should be on the watch for . . . anticipating?
4. Why weren't the power lines installed in conduit The house was built in 1974? (The utility says they now do so with new construction.) Is this not required by International Electrical or Building Codes? How do I find out? If this is a new requirement, how can I determine when it became effective?
5. The corrosion on the wiring at the three points where the line was defective (at approximately 3-4 feet deep) was visibly evident, looked similar to a car battery covered with white powder. They simply repaired the line at those three points and covered it up. Logic states that the line in corrided throughout it's 90" run. To avoid any future liability, why didn't they simply place the line in conduit?