Families believe furnaces damaged by power surge in East St. Paul

By | February 5, 2019

Manitoba Hydro is receiving phone calls from several customers who say there was a power surge early Jan. 31.

“It is rare, but it does happen,” said Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Bruce Owen in a phone call with CTV News.

The outage, which happened in East St. Paul, affected approximately 3,000 customers.

“The cause was a downed power line touching another line at Gateway and Pritchard Farm Road, likely related to the frigid weather,” said Owen in an email.

Owen said he doesn’t know how many customers may have damaged goods because of the reported surge.

He said as of Monday customers have called inquiring about the situation but he wasn’t aware of any claims having yet been filed.

Manitoba Hydro encourages customers with damaged items to file a claim and it will evaluate them on an individual basis, and said if people can show the damage was connected to the power surge they could be eligible for coverage.

FAMILIES SAY POWER SURGE BLEW OUT FURNACES

For the Morgan family, Tuesday began as day six warming up by the fireplace.

Andrew and Tracy have four children. The couple said the furnace stopped working because of the power surge.

“I smelt a faint smell of burnt electrical wires and that’s when I realized the power went out, and about 15 minutes later I heard two more pops down the street,” said Andrew.

The temperature in the house dipped down to a chilly 12 degrees.

The Morgans took shifts staying up to make sure the space heater didn’t catch fire, waiting for parts to come in to get the furnace working again.

“The first night our five and seven year olds spend the night together in the same bed, and we put a bunch of blankets on them and we have this stuffed animal we put it in the microwave so they were cuddling that,” said Tracy.

Tuesday afternoon, the parts for the furnace came and a repair got the furnace back on, an end to nearly of full week of stress without much sleep.

“You don’t have any energy to do anything, you just want to stay under the blankets and hide,” said Tracy.

“I’m staying awake the whole time to make sure my kids are warm, as warm as they can be,” said Andrew.

Fay Kraynyk’s furnace was also blown during the same outage.

Away at the time, a neighbour checking the house heard sizzling and pulled out a power bar from the wall.

It wasn’t until she returned that Kraynyk found a burn mark on the carpet.

“The house would be gone. We would have come home to no home. We would have come home to everything gone, memories, a place to live,” said Kraynyk.

PROTECTION AGAINST POWER SURGES

Manitoba Hydro recommends people use point-of-use surge suppressors, connected to a wall outlet, to help protect valuable electronic equipment like TVs and computers from voltage spikes.

“Surge suppressors generally look like a power bar, but are specifically manufactured to protect equipment from electric issues.”

“Good quality point-of-use surge suppressors generally range from $40 to $100. They are available at reputable computer outlets and hardware and department stores. Look for a product that’s CSA certified and has a cUL or UL 1449 approval.”

Manitoba Hydro said manufacturers guarantee that a surge suppressor will protect your equipment anywhere from $500 up to $25,000. The higher the dollar amount specified, the better the surge suppressor.

“For the best protection, you can use a combination of a main service surge suppressor and several point-of-use surge suppressors,” Manitobah Hydro said.