I had some issues with the local services.
Issue 1: So a car hit a telephone pole somewhere in the area, and we lost power for about an hour. That isn’t the bad part. The bad part is that the electrical surge that came along with it fried some electronics in the house. I wonder what a whole house surge protector costs. It seems like we are constantly losing electronics here because of power surges, although they are usually lightning related. It’s pretty much an annual event.
Issue #2: In preparing to move, we were getting rid of some bulk items. We called to have the garbage people come get them, then put them out on the curb for pickup day. No one showed, they remain out there. So we call the garbage folks on our bill, and they can find no record of our house. I ask “Well, if I stop paying my bill, who will call me?” They say, “You must be covered by our contractor” and transfer the call. Company two says, nope. We have no record of your house having an account. Call company number three. So we do. Company three says that they aren’t servicing our neighborhood. So back to the number on our bill. They say that company two is definitely the one, and transfer us to Company 2’s manager. Voice mail, leave a message. Total time on phone: 75 minutes.
You guessed it. No call back. So we call again the next day and play phone tag for another hour, getting nowhere. I snap a picture of the garbage truck while it was picking up our garbage, and it has the name of Company 2 on the side in foot tall letters. So we call them.
Company 2 drone: “Sure, I can place an order to get your bulk items. What is your address and the name of your neighborhood?” We give them, and she says: “That neighborhood isn’t in our reporting system. Do you have the correct name?”
We reply, “That is the only name. We have lived here for 15 years, and we are sure that’s the name.”
Drone: “Well, that one isn’t in the system, and I can’t put in the work order without one. The computer has a drop down menu with neighborhood names, and unless we put it in, it won’t let us go any farther.”
Can we speak to a manager?
Drone: “I can transfer you to their voicemail, and they will call you.”
I can’t drive it to the dump myself, because the closest dump is in a different county and won’t accept out of county drop offs. I think what I am going to do is load the items up over the weekend, and dump them in front of the garbage people’s business office and let them figure out what to do with it.
Issue #3: My storage locker had been costing me $68 a month. A new company bought out the Mom and Pop that was running it, consolidated it with three other facilities, and then doubled rates. That was back in November. When February came, they raised them again. Now it’s nearly $200 a month for storage. So I spent three days emptying that 10×10 storage unit into my garage. Now I can’t park in it, and I lost my little workshop I had set up in there. That’s OK, since we are moving in less than a year, and we are getting a larger garage in the new place. I will probably build a storage barn in the back of the new place. I can get a 10×16 that looks like the one below for about $4,900, delivered.
When I went in to tell them that I had moved out, I noticed that the security cameras were no longer hooked up, and I had noticed that the electric gate securing the property has been disconnected. So this place was bought out by a large company, the on site managers are gone, the security gate is gone, and the security cameras no longer work. And rates are now 285% higher than they were just four months ago. What the hell are those higher rates paying for? Don’t know, don’t care. I vacated the place.
Elrod · March 3, 2023 at 8:26 pm
Lost a $2.5K fridge several years ago under similar circumstances.
Went with a Siemens 140 whole house surge suppressor ($250 MSRP) that’s now in the lower meter box (for some reason the box is a 2-parter – meter in the top section, space for 6 breakers in the lower). Had an electrician put a 50 amp breaker in the slot closest to the incoming lines from the street, he had to Greenlee a hole in the bottom of the box for the surge suppressor, which now hangs from the bottom of the box. The performance numbers are great (Siemens has 2 smaller vesions for lower amp suppression, I went with the biggest for only about $85 more) have No idea if it’s “been put to the test” yet, but how well it works but the little green lights – one per 120 volt feed – say it’s working and happy.
Also put a Square D surge suppressor in the distribution panel, it takes 2 slots, which I had as spares. IIRC, it was about $80. It’s supposed to control any surges that happen inside the house, and act as a backup to the big one outside just in case.
Since I used to live in Lightning Alley (I-4) I’ve long had UPSes on everything important – TV, stereo, computer, etc. to save the fancy stuff in case of surges or voltage fluctuations. If I could find an affordable one big enough for the fridge, I’d do it.
Big Ruckus D · March 3, 2023 at 10:01 pm
Will second the Siemens. In any case, make sure you get one that protects across line, neutral and ground. I custom built some time delay contactors to put on the refrigerator/deep freeze and AC/furnace blower circuits, plus a couple of other key circuits with electronics on them.
Then when utility power fails they will not re-energize the circuit for 10 minutes after restoration of service.
This way if there is a surge or spike when utility is restored, those loads are still out of circuit until line conditions stabilize (hopefully). Not sure if such a device is made and sold ready to install, but maybe worth looking at.
As to the trash, sounds about right. These outfits could screw up a wet dream.
And the storage joint? With the cameras not working, and no on site staff, I’d probably have done something to make their increased rates “revenue neutral”. Fuck ’em.
Anonymous · March 4, 2023 at 1:33 am
Rural area an hour North of you. I can walk to five trees that have been hit by lightning, one that caught fire at the bottom. Lost a car radio to a nearby strike. House has an old whole house surge protector installed by the power company above the main breaker, its casing is split. One day I got the idea to self-installed the $50 Square D versions on all the power services. Have replaced two after a nearby strike melted and bubble one’s case, but nothing was damaged which they protected. Fine print on the packages says the more expensive ones limit to a lower voltage.
Garbage pickup and electrical power are monopolies, which like patents, are when a legislature says only a few entities may supply a product or service. Monopolies supply bad service at high prices, because they barely have competition to discipline them. There is no exception to this observation for firefighting, police, courts, armies, roads, package delivery, insurance, retirement savings, or injectable therapies.
Elrod · March 4, 2023 at 8:04 am
Ruckus – I’ve got a 240 second restart delay relay on the heat pump so it does not attempt to restart for 4 minutes after a power interruption – is that (pretty much) what you used for your installations? Those are available over the counter at HVAC distributors. never looked for a 10 minute one, though.
Does spark an idea, however, about building a couple “protection boxes” for the fridge and freezer with restart delay relays in them. Thanks.
And, this goes way, way back, but when I worked in semi-conductor mfg we got edumakated on how important zero-volt grounds are. To the point we put in two 600 ft wells into which we dropped multiples of several hundred feet of large diameter braided bare copper cable to get zero volts on ground. So, check your grounding, both with wet and stone dry soil. You may find it worthwhile to add grounding capacity, including larger gauge wiring to it / them.
Divemedic · March 4, 2023 at 9:22 am
The better way to achieve a 0 volt ground is to do what AT&T does. They have a ground field consisting of ground rods in a grid. You place 8 ground rods in a “Tic Tac Toe” pattern, with 8 feet between rods, and running ground wires between them. Since I am dealing with RF, I use braided cable. I sink the rods so that the top of the rod is 2 feet below grade.
This gives me a very low resistance to ground, and is how I ground my radio shack.
Elrod · March 4, 2023 at 5:05 pm
That would have worked, except….the buildings in question were sitting on rock ledge that was 36-42″” below grade and about 30 feet thick. The engineering group responsible for the facitilies engineering came up wth the well thing, partly because it got a ground connection well below the ledge. Lotsa bucks, but it worked.
Big Ruckus D · March 4, 2023 at 10:43 am
Mine were custom built. Started with some new surplus Siemens industrial contactors that came with full hinged front metal enclosures, these were a right place, right time sort of deal. Added a time delay relay with selectable pull in time (I went with 10 mins which was the max setting). The time delay relay in turn switches power to the contactor coil, which gets energized after the timeout when the relay contacts pull in and supplies voltage to the circuit downline.
Coils on relay and contactor are individually fused within the enclosures for good measure. These are all hardwired adjacent to the load center for each of the 5 circuits I protected. I did 5 because that’s how many contactors I had.
The contactors themselves are three pole units, so are switching both the lines and neutrals with grounds passed through. I suppose a version that plugs in could be fabbed up, but would be a bit clunky due to the size.
I did it with contactors because I had them, and it’s less likey a really big spike can bridge the air gap in them versus a smaller cube relay.
Anonymous · March 4, 2023 at 12:29 pm
Amazon sells timed-delay surge protectors for refrigerators, freezers, washers, and small appliances. I have them installed on all the stuff with sensitive electronics. Seach for Refrigmatic brand.
Regarding the shed, if your new place has room and no restrictions, look into a Conex steel shipping container. We replaced a small storm damaged shed with a larger Conex for less money than a shed would have cost.
Max Wiley · March 5, 2023 at 10:48 am
It’s highly likely that the damage to electronic devices is being caused by brownout conditions when the grid goes down and not by surges. However, if you want to protect against surges Dr. Arthur Bradley recommends the Siemens FS-140, already mentioned, which can be installed on any brand of home electrical panel. If you want to protect your sensitive items like LCD TV, home theater, or PC from brownouts and surges, I recommend the APC Line-R 1200 Voltage Regulator. This will correct both under- and over- voltage conditions within it’s capability and then shut down once its’ limits are reached.
Terrapod · March 6, 2023 at 4:51 pm
Hope you got something in writing confirming you are no longer renting otherwise you will find collection agencies coming after you for unpaid 200+/month fees. Heck, you may get the calls regardless, so be prepared.
Divemedic · March 6, 2023 at 5:36 pm
LOL. I’m no amateur. I have the paperwork proving I am not renting from them. They had my unit rented out less than 5 days after I vacated.
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