Help! Did lightening strike my pool?

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
19,738
In my opinion, the lightning hypothesis doesn't hold up. There's no known correlation between lighting and this type of reaction, there's no evidence that the pool was hit by lightning and there's no logical reason that lightning would cause it.

An electrical issue is more plausible because a stray current can cause metal corrosion and staining. However, you would need a source of metal.

Based on the filter, it doesn't look like copper or iron. It might be silver or manganese or maybe zinc.

The pattern in the pump basket and the filter suggests that it was something in the water that was insoluble.

It kind of looks like the ruthenium oxide coating that's on the titanium cell blades but that stuff is very unlikely to come off.

Maybe check cell blades for missing black coating.

In my opinion, some sort of black dust got in the water but I don't know what it could be.

Do you have surveillance video that you can review?

If you wash down the cartridge, does the black come out?

No neighborhood fires nearby?
 
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Wobblerlorri

Bronze Supporter
We once had an electric fence charger hit directly by lightning. The plug looked exactly like OP's plug, with the color change in the socket and on the legs of the plug.

That said, I'd think a lightning strike would explode an AGP.

Sure is a mystery!
 
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Teald024

TFP Guide
I'm with JamesW on this. It looks like something in the water that came out of solution.
If highly heated, the plastic melts before it burns. There is no way the water got hot enough to burn the plastic.

Copper, silver or manganese oxide are really the only black insoluble compounds it could be. But to produce these in quantity from a lightning strike would be unlikely in my opinion.
Is there any chance a neighbor threw some charcoal ash in the pool?
 

CincyDools

Active member
May 18, 2017
43
Cincinnati, Ohio
I think somebody dumped somethin in you pool. Something fairly thick or viscous and some of it got in your pump and put the motor under so much stress that it overloaded your circuit. I can't understand how pvc cold be charred from an electrical issue. Like someone above said you would think it would melt first. After it is dried try doing a scratch and sniff and see if it smells charred. Notsure what the black stuff could be though.
 
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Tenab

Bronze Supporter
Jun 26, 2019
162
NE Texas
Hubs is my lightning expert (36 years of phone co). He said he has seen phone boxes fried inside, but look fine outside. ?‍♀ Lightning grounds out.

It is bizarre to me the strip down the middle of the bottom and the black on the stairs. Something dumped in would have left evidence in more random pattern.

I had greasy black stuff in my skimmer today. (Just enough to get on my hand) I remembered daughter swam with mascara. ?‍♀

So, I really have no useful input here...??
 

gebirbou

Member
Aug 5, 2019
12
Montreal, Canada
In my opinion, the lightning hypothesis doesn't hold up. There's no known correlation between lighting and this type of reaction, there's no evidence that the pool was hit by lightning and there's no logical reason that lightning would cause it.

An electrical issue is more plausible because a stray current can cause metal corrosion and staining. However, you would need a source of metal.

Based on the filter, it doesn't look like copper or iron. It might be silver or manganese or maybe zinc.

The pattern in the pump basket and the filter suggests that it was something in the water that was insoluble.

It kind of looks like the ruthenium oxide coating that's on the titanium cell blades but that stuff is very unlikely to come off.

Maybe check cell blades for missing black coating.

In my opinion, some sort of black dust got in the water but I don't know what it could be.

Do you have surveillance video that you can review?

If you wash down the cartridge, does the black come out?

No neighborhood fires nearby?
In my opinion, the lightning hypothesis doesn't hold up. There's no known correlation between lighting and this type of reaction, there's no evidence that the pool was hit by lightning and there's no logical reason that lightning would cause it.

An electrical issue is more plausible because a stray current can cause metal corrosion and staining. However, you would need a source of metal.

Based on the filter, it doesn't look like copper or iron. It might be silver or manganese or maybe zinc.

The pattern in the pump basket and the filter suggests that it was something in the water that was insoluble.

It kind of looks like the ruthenium oxide coating that's on the titanium cell blades but that stuff is very unlikely to come off.

Maybe check cell blades for missing black coating.

In my opinion, some sort of black dust got in the water but I don't know what it could be.

Do you have surveillance video that you can review?

If you wash down the cartridge, does the black come out?

No neighborhood fires nearby?
If black dust would have gone in the pool then would the water not be dark? Would it not be on the entire bottom of pool instead of that huge
black stripe? The water quality is good and very clear.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
19,738
If you look at the pump basket, you see the black is mostly in the back where the water flows. The black is in the cartridge. The black is around the holes of the main drain.

I don't know what got in the pool, but something did.

What's the proposed method of action for a lightning strike to cause what we can see?

Just because we can't explain what happened, it doesn't make the lightning hypothesis any more credible.
 
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Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
3,690
NY
Hubs is my lightning expert (36 years of phone co). He said he has seen phone boxes fried inside, but look fine outside. ?‍♀ Lightning grounds out.

Fellow utility person here with 21 years. I just left a job that had a tranformer blow and catch fire on the pole. Everything within 20 ft of the transformer is destroyed/ burnt to a crisp. The only damage on her property was all the pool equpitment. In my opinion, you took a massive hit of power. You would know it if the Electric in your street blew because you or your neighbors would have been without power and would have seen the crew of workers come and repair it all. So that leaves lightning. Lightning has so much power behind it (amps really) that it can defy the common accepted laws of electricity. I have seem many houses where they had burn damage on things that dont conduct. Granite countertops, free standing brass headboards and yes, even plastic. All it takes is a thin film of dampness usually from humidity and all of a sudden you have a conductor. Or it simply arced and jumped across something that wasnt grounded en route to the next nearest ground. I have seen it enter somewhere, explode into several branches or just leave one massive streak however far it went.

The picture of the bottom of the pool is the proof for me. There is no telling which direction it travelled but it passed through what looks like a drain to the stairs. In the blink of an eye it scorched both directions the exact same distance leaving a perfect rectangle. That may be the amount of earth it took to dissapate the current, or just how fast it passed through only damaging what it did until it was gone and elsewhere.
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
3,690
NY
I am by no means a lightning expert. I’ve just seen lightning damage 100 times or more. Sometimes I stand there scratching my head just trying to grasp why it did what it did. There has to be plenty of people on here that have seen similar damage. Electricians or other utility people called to fix the damage. Will be interesting to get their take on it.as well.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
19,738
For something dry, lightning can cause burning and charring. Even then, it's evident by physical damage. The pattern is erratic and not consistent.

For things under water, it doesn't make sense. Nothing is burned, or charred or physically melted. The black coating on the steps is even.
 

aboykin2269

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 3, 2015
327
Pittsboro NC
I'm kinda with Newdude here. Lightening hit my childhood home when I was 7 or 8 and it Blew the old Glass fuses out so hard they flew across the room. It melted all the wiring for the Furnace in the attic and blew out a couple of light bulbs. It was amazing what was affected and what was not. Seemed like there was no reasoning behind it.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
19,738
There's no damage to anything other than an overheated plug.

The plug was overloaded. So, it's not surprising that it got too hot.

You might be able to find a weather data website that will show you the weather on the days in question. All weather data is recorded in detail, including lightning data.

If there was a lightning strike, something would be physically damaged. You would have electrical equipment damage.
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
3,690
NY
I also like the pic of the handrail. It’s completely charred underwater but only charred a foot or 2 above the water line. Like a perfect 3 or 4 foot swath cut through. If they were gone for 6 months, algea could have grown evenly across the bottom and up the railing. Perfectly even like it did in a matter of days ?? Not so much. Algea would have been blotchy and uneven at least some of the way.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
19,738
I agree that it's not algae.

Nothing is charred. There's no physical damage or burning or melting.

The black stops exactly at the waterline.

There's no evidence that lightning hit anything. If something takes a direct strike, there will be a mark where it hit.

There's no report of any damage anywhere near the property.

There's no report that there was even any lightning on the days in question.

Even if the lightning struck directly in the center of the pool, the surrounding area above the water would take more damage than below the water.
 
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Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
3,690
NY
I just went over the pics again and I’m gonna guess the stairs took the original hit. They seem to be the worse. It branched out from there and damaged everything less in several directions. Some went out the pool bottom and some left through the returns to the pump and into the electric outlet. But it clearly didn’t have the oomph left when it hit the outlet. So enough was absorbed elsewhere that it didn’t incinerate it.
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
3,690
NY
Also, whatever it may have been, you should be well above your homeowners deductible and the claims adjuster will have a much better idea than us. I will gladly change my opinion if he says it wasn’t lightning. Please keep us posted. And (of course) sorry you have to deal with this.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
19,738
There's no damage to the stairs at all. There's no black above the water. If the steps took a direct hit, why would it be more evident below water than above water?