A squirrel got into the transformer infront of our house. It blew the transformer and one of the main power lines from the pole fell on our supply line to the house. It sent a major surge into the house. It caught the breaker panel on fire, some outlets, switches and light socket on fire too. The police, firefighters and electric company guys all said the whole house would need to be rewired. We have an electrician looking at it (who had just replace the electric panel the week before) he is trying to decide if the house will need to rewired or not. I've been trying to find something on the internet like this but have had no luck. Do you think the whole house will need to be rewired?

Thank you!!!

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    This is something that is very site specific. A skilled electrician looking at the actual scene is the only way to tell. You may also need to talk to your insurance company to see if they have a position about rewiring, both from the coverage point of view and to ensure they will consider the place insurable once repaired.
    – bib
    Aug 25, 2016 at 12:49
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    Don't ask us - ask your local, licensed electrician. We can't see the wiring from here. But given that the surge caused arcing at outlets & switches, it's pretty much guaranteed that every wire in the house was overstressed. Aug 25, 2016 at 12:49
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    Police, firefighters, electric company and, potentially, an electrician, on the site with far more experience and knowledge than most of us, all have said you need rewiring but you came here to ask a bunch of anonymous people who aren't there if it needs rewiring?!
    – Rob
    Aug 25, 2016 at 13:06
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    Sorry if I picked the wrong site to ask for some opinions. Thank you for the advise about if they consider the house insurable once repaired. I hadent thought about that. I was only asking to see if someone had ever seen something like this before. I've been calling around and searching the internet and cant get any answers. It not easy sitting in the hotel waiting for the insurance adjuster to call to check out the damage. I would definitely take my electricians advise over people on the internet, but I am trying to educate myself about what happened to my house.
    – Heather
    Aug 25, 2016 at 13:56

1 Answer 1


Your local, on site electrician will best assess this, but in all likelihood, yes, you need to replace all the wiring (and your insurance company or the utility company should be footing the bill - your insurance company will probably turn around and get the money from the utility company, it's truly their fault.)

Why? When you have had an overvoltage condition of such magnitude that:

It caught the breaker panel on fire, some outlets, switches and light socket on fire too.

The problem is not resolved when the overvoltage goes away and the fire is put out, because every place that arced now has a lovely "carbon track" where it's supposed to have insulation - and carbon is a conductor - a lousy one, but plenty to cause problems. Once a carbon track forms, it's very easy to have repeated arcs at much lower voltages.

Typical household wiring is 600V insulation - yours was exposed to likely 1100-2400V depending on the local system.

In addition, you may well have damage at places you cannot see inside the walls. You're lucky the house did not burn down.

So - not only the wiring, but also the receptacles, switches, and pretty much everything that was connected to them is now highly suspect and should be replaced.

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    I agree everything needs to be replaced. I believe the residential feeds in my area are 14KV. but if it was enough to damage the panel and outlets the wires were probably damaged also. Everything needs to be Megged if it is not replaced.
    – Ed Beal
    Aug 25, 2016 at 13:59

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