Millions worth of damages in Urrðaholt due to an eletrical failure

Holtsvegur in Urriðaholt in Garðabær where the electrical malfunction occurred …

Holtsvegur in Urriðaholt in Garðabær where the electrical malfunction occurred on Friday. mbl.is/Kristinn Magnússon

Residents in a few dozen apartments in Urriðaholt in Garðabær suffered millions worth of damages last Friday when a malfunction in an electric box run by HS Veitur caused the voltage to soar from 220V to almost 400V in some of the apartments that were connected to this electric box. As a result a lot of electrical devices got damaged and in some parts of these buildings there has been no hot water since Friday.

The voltage went up to 380V

The electrical malfunction became known around 6 PM on Friday in the houses number 8-12, 14-18 and 9-11 at Holtsvegur. Consequently the residents realised that many of their electrical devices were not working. mbl.is talked to Egill Sigmundsson, manager of the electric devision and Júlíus Jónsson, CEO of HS Veitur about the consequences of this malfunction.

Sigmundsson says that the malfunction was in the electrical box on the street that is directly connected to these buildings on Holtsvegur. "In part of the apartments the voltage soared," he said but voltage detectors measured the voltage go up to 380V. "That is what happened and it probably destroyed some electrical equipment," he says.

Possible impact on 80 apartments

Sigmundsson explains that a sudden surge in voltage can destroy electrical equipment, although many are designed with a voltage protection, especially the more sensitive equipment. When the protection is in place, it works like when a fuse blows and it doesn't destroy them. However, equipment without this protection are in danger of their control panel being completely destroyed because of the high voltage.

mbl.is/Kristinn Magnússon

Altogether there are 118 apartments connected to this electrical box that malfunctioned. Sigmundsson says that based on the malfunction it is to be expected that two thirds of the apartments were impacted on Friday, especially in the cases where the electrical equipment was being used at the time. That means that just under 80 apartments have been impacted by the surge in voltage.

"Our responsibility"

The CEO of HS Veitur, Júlí­us Jónsson, asks the residents that might have suffered damages due to the electrial surge on Friday to contact VÍS Insurance. When he is asked whether he sees his company as responsible for the damages, he says yes. "As we see this at this point, it is our responsibility and that is why we are asking people to contact our insurance company."

Damages might be dozens of million ISK

mbl.is has heard from two residents who estimate that their personal damage might be from 500,000 ISK up to a million ISK in their apartments. Then they are not including all costs. The damages could mean dozens of million dollars for HS Veitur, but Jónsson stresses that they don't know the scope of the damages yet, nor how much it will cost.

To give an example of what went wrong, one resident, Árný Björk Árnadóttir, says to mbl.is that Holtavegur 16 is still without hot water, as well as Holtsvegur 14 and possibly more. In her apartment her dishwasher, a freezer, a lot of electrical chargers, a computer, coffee machine, alarm clocks stopped working after the incident. She has also heard that refrigerators and TVs have stopped working, although that didn't happen in her case. But her dorbell is still not working. She thinks that her damages could be a million ISK.

The employees of HS Veitur have been checking all electric boxes in Urriðaholt to make sure this does not happen again.

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