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Default Damaged PC after thunderstorm

May 11th, 2012, 11:16
During the thunderstorm yesterday my PC got damaged. When I returned the PC was off and refused to start. There is no visual damage. Nothing burned through, etc.

It's a Phenom 2 X 4 in an Asus mainboard.

The only life signs:
The power on light on the bottom right corner of the m/b is on. When I turn the power switch on the PSU on, the CPU O/C light goes on for a split second and then goes out. Both is correct behaviour.

The PC doesn't start. Black screen, no fan activity at all.

The monitors seem to be okay, as well as the external HDDs.

We have a very similar PC in our house. So I can pull stuff out and put it in there and vice versa.

Any recommendations what I should test and in which order to find out what is damaged?
Can I assume the PSU is okay, if it passed juice through to the mainboard? If it's not okay, can I damage components by connecting them? The PSU is a Coolermaster with ca. 500-600W.
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May 11th, 2012, 12:06
Actually I'd suspect the psu first, it's the first component that would be hit by an overload and my understanding is that they have fuses that can blow. And there are different rails of power that they deliver via the different coloured wires, so the power to the m/b might still be coming through, but not the power for the drives, etc.

Good luck!
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May 11th, 2012, 12:22
Thanks!

I talked to our admin at work. He also suspected it's the PSU, because nothing connected to the 12V line reacts at all. He thinks the mainboard lights are powered by the 5V line.
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May 11th, 2012, 12:24
I had this once, a long time ago after a direct hit of lightning to our house. In my case the overload actually seemed to have come in two ways, once over the telephone line (yes, a modem. It was that long ago). And secondly over the PSU (as an aside, the PC was actually unplugged at the time - but the electricity jumped from the socket to the cable lying below! - I saw the flash under the desk from my sofa at the time). Anyway, both the PSU and the modem were fried, but the rest was OK, IIRC.
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May 11th, 2012, 12:28
Almost certainly the PSU, I've had something similar happen a few times.
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May 11th, 2012, 12:29
I would be happy if it's only the PSU.
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May 11th, 2012, 13:01
Same thing happened to me last year. A lighting bolt hit the transformer outside causing an electronic surge. Literally felt the static charge. Luckily for me I had insurance.

After replacing my psu and motherboard I found my modem fried also. How fun. Lesson learned power protectors do not always work. I'm sorry to say your motherboard might be dead. Some warranty's and insurance cover it and others don't.

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Last edited by Couchpotato; May 11th, 2012 at 18:27.
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May 11th, 2012, 13:53
In Germany someone tried to sue the electricity firms responsible for the current … He argued that their … electricity lines ? shouldn't have been able to overload or been overloaded at all, so that they should have built some kind of security for overflowing current (it's difficult for me to express in English words what I mean), so he wanted to get money back for the many desrtroyed computers in his firm. (A thunder has been hitting something so that the overflowing current coming from the thunder has been going through electricity lines somehow - overloading almost or all computers in a firm.)
He finally failed at the Bundesverfasungsgericht, if I remember it correctly.

And that' why I always (if I remember to do it, that is) take down every major electric device at home during a thunderstorm.

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May 11th, 2012, 13:56
Originally Posted by Gorath View Post
I would be happy if it's only the PSU.
Was it the only machine to stop working and is it connected to a wireless or wired network? It's suprising how many wired networks have switches that aren't properly surge protected; I've seen one unprotected cisco switch fry half floor's PC's motherboards through their on-board NIC/ethernet port.

If other systems are working fine and the switch its connected to isn't out (or if it's on a wireless network) then there's a good chance it's just the PSU. If it fried the 12 v rail though it might have fried the motherboard too. Swapping out a PSU will pretty much tell you if its the motherboard or the PSU immediately; if it does the same thing after swapping it out than it's almost certainly the motherboard (based on the early point during start-up that it fails at.)

Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
In Germany someone tried to sue the electricity firms responsible for the current … He argued that their … electricity lines ? shouldn't have been able to overload or been overloaded at all, so that they should have built some kind of security for overflowing current (it's difficult for me to express in English words what I mean), so he wanted to get money back for the many desrtroyed computers in his firm. (A thunder has been hitting something so that the overflowing current coming from the thunder has been going through electricity lines somehow - overloading almost or all computers in a firm.)
He finally failed at the Bundesverfasungsgericht, if I remember it correctly.
Ok normally I wouldn't give someone a hard time for not having insurance, but for a business that IS what insurance is for.

Sadly on homeowner's insurance, while many policies cover damage from electrical surges you often won't get much past your deductible and if you do they'll probably drop you from your policy. That might not be relevent in Germany though; I have no idea how homeowner's insurance works but I imagine businesses with large ammounts of mission critical computer systems do consider insuring those systems as best practice.
Last edited by jhwisner; May 11th, 2012 at 14:07.
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May 11th, 2012, 15:03
Sorry, but I'm not an expert on insurances. I think I remember that there wasn't any insurances against thunderstorms in this case, but again, this is already long, long ago … And I just can't recall anything correctly anymore …

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May 11th, 2012, 15:31
I've had this happen multiple times in the past and, from what I remember, it was the PSU that had been overloaded both times. If you replace your PSU and things still aren't functioning properly, proceed with normal troubleshooting procedures: disconnect everything save 1 DIMM of RAM and your video card (you could insert your wife's RAM and card here to further narrow it down to your motherboard).
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May 11th, 2012, 16:55
(innocently) Didn't your UPS or power strip work?
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May 11th, 2012, 18:19
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
(as an aside, the PC was actually unplugged at the time - but the electricity jumped from the socket to the cable lying below! - I saw the flash under the desk from my sofa at the time).
Holy crap. Now I'm scared.
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May 12th, 2012, 05:46
Originally Posted by Gorath View Post
I talked to our admin at work. He also suspected it's the PSU, because nothing connected to the 12V line reacts at all.
Did he know about the power controller that tells the PSU when to power on and off? With a multimeter (ie from Wal-Mart, any big box hardware store and even $5 from Harbor Feight) and one full minute of labor. Then those 3 digit numbers mean a next reply can say what is failed, how to fix it the first time, and sometimes why and what actually failed.

Two choices. Just start replacing good parts until something works. (Most people do shotgunning.) Or use a meter to fix it faster, with less money, and also learn from the experience. Your choice.
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May 12th, 2012, 06:29
In 90% of cases the symptoms you describe are the PSU. Other components may be also be damaged but PSU is the first thing to replace. It's good if you have an old pc laying around to test first.

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May 12th, 2012, 20:38
Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
Holy crap. Now I'm scared.
When it hits THAT hard then you are doing well if your house doesn't burn down!
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May 13th, 2012, 19:43
In Denmark all houses and apartments are required by law to have an HFPI-box? to prevent this from happening, I think? The electric current will then go through the box, and the mechanism in the box will shut the power off immediately.

Not much help to Gorath, I agree….

On the other hand, in Denmark, we normally don't have as extreme weather as people experience in say certain parts of Germany, France, England or in the US. In 1999, in december, we got by a hurricane for the first time - ever, I think. Wr don't have tornados either, however we have something called a skypump? - sometimes. It is sort of minor or smaller version of a tornado…

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May 14th, 2012, 12:58
Our Fritz Box got killed too, so I'm offline for the time being.

Current status is that PSU, RAM, HDDs, DVD-RW and most importantly the graphics card are in working condition. It's too early to say they're all 100% intact, but they work as intended, at least over a period of a couple of hours.

I guess this leaves CPU and/or mainboard as damaged parts.
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May 14th, 2012, 13:58
Argh, sorry to hear that
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May 14th, 2012, 14:06
My 1200 VA UPS (APC Line Interactive) is the only component (OT: along with my Audigy 2) that I retained through my last 2 system builds. I consider it a good investment (300 Euro UPS for 2 X 2500-3000 euro PCs, also put a surge protector in front)…
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