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Author Topic: This one is a DANDY!  (Read 2621 times)
WA8MEA
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« on: April 27, 2010, 11:02:59 AM »

I am not sure WHY this woman has singled me out for these questions.  Yes, I do have a ham business.  Maybe she has mass contacted many ham businesses.

I don't want to get the ham in trouble.  I also don't want this woman to be harassed by other hams.  In fact, to be honest, I don't know who these people are or where they are located.  I responded to the woman the first time because I thought her worry was going to be about RFI/TVI.

Here's what she wrote me on a follow-up to my original response:

Thank you for responding, here is the situation.  Several years ago my neighbor installed a ham radio tower, I am in no way opposed to his tower.  One of his guide wires is attached to a post with a ground wire going into a tree root system that goes under my house, it is about 13 feet from my house.  Since this installation, I have had many electrical issues during a lightning storm only on that side of the house.  Two years ago, my grinder pump was hit by and electrical current, exploded and had to be replaced.  Last year the ECM on my washer was hit and had to be replaced, last summer during an electrical storm, the static electricity was so great in my bedroom, which is on that side of the house, this year during our first electrical storm, I lost  a tv, two phones, and my air conditioning thermostat, all on that side of the house.  Nothing in the rest of the house has been disturbed.  Last year I replaced my ground rod, and the local electric company replaced a faulty insulator on the pole at the road.  My question is: is it possible, even if the tower is not struck by lightning, could electrical current be coming down into the tree root system and into my house.  I am at my wits end and just want to stop my house from burning down and or my family being hurt.  Any input you might have will be helpful.


Have any of you got any ideas on this?

I'm thinking her complaint might be legit.  However, the ham doesn't want to admit anything for fear of a lawsuit. 

I wonder if the ham is running some type of terminated antenna off this tower, thus the ground rod at the bottom of the guy wire.

If not, wouldn't it be best to just run ungrounded guy wires that are insulated at certain lengths along each wire???

73, Bill - WA8MEA
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N1DVJ
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« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2010, 11:17:39 AM »

I'd wonder why there's a ground connection to the guy?  Something sounds fishy. 

I always thought it was common to ' break up' your guys so they would be non-resonant.  Unless the guys are part of your antenna system.

If nothing else, I'd wonder about the tower installation. 

On another issue, I couldn't respond to this, eHam kept telling me to login.  But when I clicked on login, it said Welcome N1DVJ.  And other screens also said Welcome N1DVJ, but it wouldn't put up any tab to reply until I logged in on top of my login...

Like I said, I think the forum went live with the new software a bit too early...
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WA3SKN
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« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2010, 11:52:17 AM »

"is it possible, even if the tower is not struck by lightning, could electrical current be coming down into the tree root system"
Anything is possible!
But, I would suggest a review of the grounding of both dwellings is in order.  Tree roots normally do not make a good ground.
73s.

-Mike.
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AA4PB
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« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2010, 12:13:47 PM »

Sounds to me like she needs to get an electrician or the power company to install a whole house surge protector with a good grounding system.

How tall is the tree? Are the roots growing thru or under the footers and foundation of the house? That doesn't sound like a good thing from a mechanical standpoint.
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WA8MEA
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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2010, 03:45:23 PM »

Sounds to me like she needs to get an electrician or the power company to install a whole house surge protector with a good grounding system.

That sounds mighty expensive.  As she stated, it's only on that side of the house.

I received some more answers to questions I asked her this afternoon.  He does have the guy wire separated with an insulator....but at the top.  I'm now wondering if she is describing a terminated loop style antenna.

How tall is the tree? Are the roots growing thru or under the footers and foundation of the house? That doesn't sound like a good thing from a mechanical standpoint.

Sure doesn't.  I've asked her how long the tree has been there and if it has grown or had any significant changes happen to it since the tower went up.

It sounds as if these two are friends and he has been conversing with her on the issue.  She and he are involved in emergency preparedness, but she is not a ham.  He has loaned her two meter handhelds to listen to nets and such.

She said she was going to try and take some photos. 

Probably the easiest solution is for her to become a ham, the two of them get married, she moves into his house, she sells her house....and let the new home owners worry about it.  Grin

73, Bill

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N3OX
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« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2010, 04:05:09 PM »

 
"is it possible, even if the tower is not struck by lightning, could electrical current be coming down into the tree root system"
Anything is possible!

No it's not!  Tree roots are probably approximately as conductive as dirt, and if there's a ground rod in the tree roots or the dirt, it's going to spread the charge.

And the tower doesn't get hit and it gets blamed?  I think her electrical troubles are probably an unfortunate coincidence, not the fault of the tower.

Towers are not electrical damage magnets.  People think towers are electrical damage magnets and so if electrical damage during storms happens to coincide with the installation of the tower, then maybe they improperly put two and two together.

The only way I see that a tower could increase the likelihood of lightning damage to a neighboring property was if it was so tall it actually took direct hits preferentially all the time AND the neighboring property was already particularly vulnerable to induced current damage.  But towers have to be pretty tall before they significantly exceed the background strike probability.  Now, I am not a lightning expert.  But I don't think anyone else up in here is either!

I think she needs to talk to someone who has a really good background in lightning protection, because I think this is probably just coincidence and you may be making it more likely that she'll take some sort of inappropriate action against her ham neighbor without any real cause.

If the tower is properly installed and properly grounded overall, that region is probably safer from lightning.  Remember lightning rods?    If you have strikes happening, better they go to ground through metal.  If the tower's only ground is on a guy wire, that would be a problem, but that's probably not the case.  Probably the tower is grounded at the base, and the guy wires are probably also grounded, as far as I know that is always PROPER GROUNDING PRACTICE for towers.

If you're only hearing her side of the story, I don't think you should give her advice on this matter.  She should be working with her neighbor, not gathering the advice of people who don't know the whole deal here.

It sucks to lose equipment to random lightning damage.  But it might just be that... random, and actually TOTALLY uncorrelated with the tower. 

73
Dan

« Last Edit: April 27, 2010, 04:07:28 PM by Dan » Logged

73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
WB2GBF
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« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2010, 04:09:33 PM »

It could be that the strikes are inducing surges in her ground system.  She definitely needs to have someone look at her ground system.  I would also have them install surge suppression too.

In older homes, the service is grounded at the cold water system entry into the home (as was mine) and the cold water line may run near the ham's house.  Strikes to the tower may cause those ground surges.
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W8JI
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« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2010, 05:26:25 PM »

Bill,

The tower very well could be contributing to her problems, and there might be little she can do to correct it unless his system is grounded correctly.

First, it is proper and even desirable ground anchors of conductive guying systems. A large portion of any hit on the tower would go into the guy anchors unless the lines were non-conductive. It was a very common occurrence at guyed AM towers to have insulators shatter from lightning.

My own towers, when there are distant lightning hits, arc across all of the guy insulators. People who work here or who visit during inclement weather are fascinated to hear the towers all let out a loud "crack" every time lightning flashes a few miles away.

I actually expect, unless he has non-conductive guys, that his system is energizing the ground rod by her house. Depending on the soil conditions and moisture in the roots, or even without roots, it is quite likely that any hits on the mains might flow partially through her house and this effect could be enhanced by the guy anchors near her house.

When visiting a Ham in North Carolina, I saw a house with an entire wall charred and all the appliances in that area of the house destroyed, along with outlets and house wiring, because he guyed up against his house!

The first thing I would want to know is what type of ground or grounding he has on the tower base, and how that system is eventually tied into his house.

I would want to know what type of guys he has.

I would want to know where and what her entrance ground is.

If the fellow next door has a good ground on the tower, and if that ground has a good path back to the mains entrance ground (either through the heavy feed cables or some other means), then she could probably cure her problems with a halo ground around her house.

If he has a crummy ground on the tower (like a few rods and few or no radials), and the guyline running down near her house is conductive or mostly conductive with few long areas of insulation, then she is going to be into some major work to correct damage on his side of the house.

Without knowing a lot about the system no one can really answer with any certainty, except to say anything but fully non-conductive lines can cause very high currents in guylines, even if the hits are only nearby hits.

73 Tom

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WB2WIK
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« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2010, 06:12:56 PM »


My own towers, when there are distant lightning hits, arc across all of the guy insulators. People who work here or who visit during inclement weather are fascinated to hear the towers all let out a loud "crack" every time lightning flashes a few miles away.




I've experienced that also.  The Alpha-Delta center insulators and dipole products used to come with a "lightning arrestor" cartridge (which flashed over at a couple of kV and once flashed, would remain a short circuit until replaced) built into the insulator housing; that was a real pain, unusable where I used to live in NJ because lightning even a mile or two away would cause it to short out.

It doesn't take anything remotely close to a "direct hit" to induce a few kV across stuff.
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KB5ZXM
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« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2010, 10:37:14 PM »

I wonder geographically where this is? What type of soil, how far down to the  first water table? If the  deciduous trees are healthy it must be close. How long the tower has been up and how well maintained .How old the house wiring is,and if it needs be upgraded anyway . In my particular county we are not allowed to construct any thing with in 15 feet of our property line, except a fence.
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K4YZ
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« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2010, 10:50:33 PM »

"is it possible, even if the tower is not struck by lightning, could electrical current be coming down into the tree root system"
Anything is possible!

No it's not!  Tree roots are probably approximately as conductive as dirt, and if there's a ground rod in the tree roots or the dirt, it's going to spread the charge.

I disagree, Dan!

A well-hydrated, well developed root system can conduct electricty at a far greater potential than the dirt around it!  I saw an example of this in my hometown of Ravenna, OH, in 1973...A maple tree was struck and there was a "trench" along a portion of one of the roots that was literally blown apart from the inside-out!  The force was sufficient to force several segments of concrete sidewalk slab up-and-away from it's foundation.

73

Steve, K4YZ
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K0BG
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« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2010, 07:04:41 AM »

The young lady even sent me the e-mail. I did answer her. I told her this wasn't my area of expertise, and referred her to Tom's (W8JI) web site. What Tom said above, is basically what I told her, especially the part about not knowing what he has done, grounding wise.

Unfortunately, this is yet another case of taking shortcuts, for whatever the justification. Effort heuristics, indeed!

Looking back....

It has always been my belief that properly installed towers (proper grounding in this case), exhibit a cone of protection to nearby structures. On the other hand, when improperly installed (lack of proper grounding), there can be a cone of damage as it were to nearby structures. I also believe, that everything you do, will have an unforeseen effect on another. I believe this is the case here.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2010, 07:11:31 AM by Alan Applegate » Logged

K7ZRZ
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« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2010, 07:06:41 AM »

On a 240 Volt feed to the house service, quite likely half (or one side) of the house is wired across one 240 volt leg and neutral and the other side being wired to the OTHER 240 volt leg to neutral.  What's happening is not for us to know specifically, but I personally discount the tower guy as a direct cause.  She might have all the sensitive equipment over on that side of the house, also.  Interesting and unfortunate circumstances.

Brian K7ZRZ
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Brian K7ZRZ
WA8MEA
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« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2010, 08:39:29 AM »

Well, if Alan got an e-mail, too....it is obvious she is using the archives of eHam to find her contacts.

I vote for Tom's response, also.

Since I now feel a little "used", I believe I will sever my communications with this YL.  If she picked names off of this website, I'm sure she can find this thread and make her own judgments about solving her issues....

73, Bill
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WA3SKN
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« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2010, 09:23:14 AM »

There is a "difference of potential" between two (or more) conductors.
There is current flow.  Enough current flow to damage things.
I still think both dwellings power and grounding need to be investigated... before someone gets hurt. 

-Mike.
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