Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Courts News Idle

Ohio Supreme Court Drawn Into Magnetic Homes Case 462

Posted by samzenpus
from the Just-when-I-thought-I-was-out-they-pull-me-back-in dept.
The Ohio Supreme Court will decide if a builder will have to replace magnetized parts of two couples' homes, even though they signed a limited warranty which did not specifically cover replacing positively- or negatively-charged building materials. After moving into the homes the couples found that something was not quite right. Their TV screens were distorted. Cordless phones ran into interference. Computer hard drives were corrupted. Soon after, it was discovered that steel joists in the homes had become magnetized."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ohio Supreme Court Drawn Into Magnetic Homes Case

Comments Filter:
  • by kimvette (919543) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:10PM (#37633816) Homepage Journal

    Just rent a large degaussing coil.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wierd_w (1375923)

      No shit.

      The navy used to degauss whole fucking battleships in the second world war.

      You can even buy commerical degaussing wands for repairing old crt deflection plates reasonably cheap, now that crt is essentially a dead technology. My old employer had several for just this purpose.

      What I want to know is how the hell the joists picked up such a magnetic potential in the first place.

      • by Torinir (870836)
        Bad wiring, perhaps? Running electrical wires in close proximity to the steel joists could cause magnetization of the joists over time. Iron and its alloys are pretty easy to magnetize in that manner.
        • Re:Why replace? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by icebike (68054) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:52PM (#37634120)

          Bad wiring, perhaps? Running electrical wires in close proximity to the steel joists could cause magnetization of the joists over time. Iron and its alloys are pretty easy to magnetize in that manner./quote

          Last I checked we use alternating current in this country.

          • Re:Why replace? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by MichaelSmith (789609) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @09:20PM (#37634304) Homepage Journal

            Hmm. I lined my last house with tongue and groove pine boards and noticed that adjacent boards contained slices through imperfections in the original trees. This is because the boards are produced, processed, transported and installed serially. So maybe the metal structural components of the house have a shared history? If they get heated in a foundry the magnetic poles will be free to align against the prevailing field, which could be quite strong if there is a lot of DC current around. Then they get stacked and installed in the house, still in the same orientation relative to each other.

            • Re:Why replace? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by plover (150551) * on Thursday October 06, 2011 @09:53PM (#37634496) Homepage Journal

              And this would affect their hard drives and TV how, exactly?

              Seriously, if the beams were magnetic enough to cause the claimed damage to the contents of the house, they wouldn't have been able to separate them from each other in this construction pile you've theoretically stacked up. They wouldn't even have been delivered, because they wouldn't have been able to scrape them off the forklifts, or lift them from the truck beds. Other vehicles passing them on the roads would have been stuck to the sides of their trailers. Once delivered, the carpenters' hammers would have flown through the air, heads permanently affixed to the beams.

              Yes, they could be magnetic enough to disrupt a compass reading. The earth's field is maybe 60 microteslas, so it's not a high bar to pass. But strong enough to erase a bit in a hard drive? The coercivity of the media is about 1700 Oe for cobalt, which takes a lot stronger field than that.

              • Re:Why replace? (Score:5, Informative)

                by lurker1997 (2005954) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @11:30PM (#37635084)
                The whole thing is BS. I work (mostly used to work) with MRI equipment, both supercon and smaller permanent magnet based instruments. I have some permanent magnets for building MRI machines that have a surface field strength of about 0.5T (5000 Gauss) which would crush your finger to a pulp if it ever got stuck between them, and are all but impossible to separate if they ever get near each other. I have routinely used a PC within a few feet of these without any ill effects. If I had to guess, the 5 Gauss line, normally considered the safe distance for magnetic storage media, is maybe a foot. If the steel beams in this house are magnetized, I would be amazed if the remanent magnetization was even 5 G. No chance of there being such a large field (this is 10x earth's field) more than a few inches away from the beams, regardless of their magnetization. Furthermore, a permanent magnet would have no effect on cordless phones of any kind. A static magnetic field has nothing to do with a 900 MHZ or whatever radio signal coming from the phone.
                • Re:Why replace? (Score:4, Informative)

                  by tftp (111690) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @11:41PM (#37635140) Homepage

                  A static magnetic field has nothing to do with a 900 MHZ or whatever radio signal coming from the phone.

                  • All ferrites saturate; transformers stop working, inductors lose inductance, beads are not doing filtering anymore.
                  • All circulators / isolators (if there are any in these phones) go bananas

                  But it would take a very strong field to cause this. The phone would jump out of your hand and stick to the wall first.

              • by ace123 (758107) <patrick.horn@gmail.com> on Friday October 07, 2011 @01:08AM (#37635512) Homepage

                Evidently, the coercivity of the media who reported on this story was high enough to be affected by these magnetic homes.

                (Sorry, it was only until after I read your comment that I discovered which type of media you were referring to.)

        • by headhot (137860)

          Welding.

      • Re:Why replace? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:44PM (#37634050)

        The summary reads like BS anyway.
        If they actually have magnetic mono-poles in their house they should sell them for millions of dollars, instead of complaining about it.
        No one describes a magnet as "positively charged".
        Also charge is an entirely different property than magnetism.
        It seems far more likely the beams are not properly grounded and are possibly acting like an antenna, causing all kinds of interference.
        And unless they mounted their hard drives onto the "magnetic" beams I seriously doubt the field is strong enough to affect them.

        Finally I have to wonder how would these beams get magnetized?
        Did the electrician wrap some power cables around it?

        • by icebike (68054)

          My thoughts exactly.

          Further, the level of the magnetic field that would be required to corrupt a hard drive in a computer would yank the door knobs off and tools could be hung up just by throwing them against the wall.

          • by znerk (1162519)

            Further, the level of the magnetic field that would be required to corrupt a hard drive in a computer would yank the door knobs off and tools could be hung up just by throwing them against the wall.

            Actually, I used to work in a mom'n'pop tech shop, doing sales and repairs of home computer equipment. We had a woman come in with a corrupted Win95 install (this was back in '98 or '99), which we responded to by backing up her data, wiping, and reloading the OS. She was back a week later with the same issue, and we responded in exactly the same way. The third time she came in, she was so upset at us, and in such a hurry, she didn't take the refrigerator magnets off the case. It seems she collected refriger

      • We still degauss ships. Neither the necessity, nor the art, was lost when the war ended.

      • Re:Why replace? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by SharpFang (651121) on Friday October 07, 2011 @02:59AM (#37636118) Homepage Journal

        I bet magnetic crane abuse. A crane with strong electromagnet instead of hook is normally used to transport beams and other heavy elements between storage and cargo, but the duration is not enough to magnetize the beams. But if the operator decided to "have some fun" and waved the electromagnet above the beams in one direction several times, or otherwise abused the process - say, moving the "head" over the same bundle of beams multiple times on return trip after loading a bundle on a trach and going back for another, they could have become magnetized.

      • What I want to know is how the hell the joists picked up such a magnetic potential in the first place.

        This is a stretch, but if you orient a steel bar with the north and south poles and hit it with a hammer, it will become magnetized.. maybe the joists were dropped from a height while they were pointing N/S

    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      Or heat the homes past the Curie temperatures [wikipedia.org]. Hopefully with the builders still inside them. Then let them cool off.
    • honestly, It seems really odd to me that entire structural members could become magnetized incidentally during construction (magnetizing something that large is not exactly easy) Makes me wonder if its actually related to the electrical system in the building, not the structure itself.
  • I have to wonder... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kiralan (765796) * on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:13PM (#37633830) Journal
    ... just how strong the magnetic field is, for it to affect the hard drive of a computer at any likely distance. It seems like metal objects would be flying through the air and sticking to the floor. Also, I have to wonder how a static magnetic field would affect most phones. Seems there would have to be an alternating field of some sort to do so. Finally, any links to the 'numbers' (field strength, gauss, whatever the proper term is)?
    • If it was strong enough to affect hard drives, it may have been strong enough to attenuate the phones' signals by cyclotron resonance.

      Of course, by the time hard disks are affected I think they'd start noticing dropped aluminum objects drifting lazily to the ground.
    • by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:20PM (#37633874)

      Yes, something definitely seems fishy here. You have to have a really strong magnetic field to affect a hard drive from any distance. Are steel objects flying out of their hands and sticking to the corners of the room? And yes, magnetic fields should have zero effect on electronic equipment, unless it's moving (which creates an electric field). If the house is like those rotating restaurants, except much faster, and is spinning around a stationary phone, I can see how that would cause a problem...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tepples (727027)

        And yes, magnetic fields should have zero effect on electronic equipment, unless it's moving (which creates an electric field).

        And guess what a computer hard drive does 5400 to 10800 times a minute.

        • by wierd_w (1375923) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:41PM (#37634026)

          but the casing of (all?) commercial HDDs is designed to attenuate magnetic fields. this is because there is a great big honking rare earth magnet built right into the drive, just inches away from the platter. It is used to drive the voice coil actuator that moves the head around. Having that just a few inches away from floppy diskette drives (now a rarity, but still) without such attenuation would have been "Bad, M'kay."

          to not only have sufficient magnetic flux at the platter surface, but also be sufficient to cause electrical eddies inside the platters due to the rotation, the walls would have to be several million tesla in magnetic potential.

          Flying forks and hallucenations would be occuring long before this would become a problem.

        • by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:42PM (#37634036)

          Yes, so what? A hard drive is magnetically and EMI shielded, for one thing (it's encased in metal), but we're talking about a house's structural members interfering with a phone, not a hard drive interfering with a phone. Probably everyone here has both a hard drive (or several), and a phone (or several); anyone experiencing interference between the two? The house owners are complaining of the house itself causing problems with their hard drives and their phones, not of their hard drives interfering with their phones.

          Finally, hard drive platters, while coated with a magnetic substance, don't have much overall magnetism by themselves. Take one apart, take the platter out, and see if you can get it to stick to anything steel; it won't. The great source of magnetism in the HD is from the read-write head, which actually doesn't move very much (it just moves back and forth in a small arc), and also from some rather strong permanent magnets that are affixed to the HD chassis (used in the arm mechanism), and which don't move at all.

        • by guruevi (827432) <evi.smokingcube@be> on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:43PM (#37634044) Homepage

          It's surrounded by a Faraday's Cage... twice.

          I am very familiar with the effects of strong magnetic fields. To get such an effect you would have to have an active wide-band transmitter (to affect TV's, computers and everything else that's claimed) and the power consumption of the house alone (if it's even possible to create a magnet that size with the amount of ferro-magnetic material available) would be through the roof. A magnet with that power would require supercooling and at least a couple of residential power supplies from the power company to magnetize the space of a large living room.

        • And guess what a computer hard drive does 5400 to 10800 times a minute.

          I have a pair of 15K RPM SCSI drives that beg to differ. ;-)

      • by blueg3 (192743)

        Magnetic fields also effect any electronics that involve electric currents, which is... all of them.

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          While it's been a long time since my EM Fields classes, I don't believe that is correct. You have to have a moving or changing magnetic field to create an electric field (which is why transformers for instance only work with AC), and generally, a static magnetic field should not affect electronics. There are some exceptions, however, for components which themselves use magnetism, namely inductors and transformers which have iron cores. If the static field is strong enough, it could saturate the iron core

      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>And yes, magnetic fields should have zero effect on electronic equipment

        You never used a TV before flatscreens, I take it?

        The electrons being shot out by a CRT are pretty sensitive to magnetic fields, and a strong source nearby definitely can warp or distort the scene being displayed. Permanently, too, if you are dumb enough to directly stick a magnet to the box.

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          You never used a TV before flatscreens, I take it?

          I have, but like many people I've ditched CRT TVs, so this really shouldn't be a concern for most people. But yes, if you still have some antique equipment around (perhaps an old oscilloscope or arcade game), then static fields should be a concern for you, however even though CRTs can be affected by relatively weak fields (it's not like you need an MRI nearby to see the effect!), I seriously doubt that the frame members in a steel-framed house could create

    • by Y-Crate (540566)

      ... just how strong the magnetic field is, for it to affect the hard drive of a computer at any likely distance. It seems like metal objects would be flying through the air and sticking to the floor. Also, I have to wonder how a static magnetic field would affect most phones. Seems there would have to be an alternating field of some sort to do so. Finally, any links to the 'numbers' (field strength, gauss, whatever the proper term is)?

      I'd love to know if they've checked the quality of the electricity supply in the house. Dirty power supplies can wreak havoc.

      • ... just how strong the magnetic field is, for it to affect the hard drive of a computer at any likely distance. It seems like metal objects would be flying through the air and sticking to the floor. Also, I have to wonder how a static magnetic field would affect most phones. Seems there would have to be an alternating field of some sort to do so. Finally, any links to the 'numbers' (field strength, gauss, whatever the proper term is)?

        I'd love to know if they've checked the quality of the electricity supply in the house. Dirty power supplies can wreak havoc.

        Personally, I think there's a strong RF source nearby. Neighbor with a shortwave transmitter or something like that.

    • ... just how strong the magnetic field is, for it to affect the hard drive of a computer at any likely distance. It seems like metal objects would be flying through the air and sticking to the floor. Also, I have to wonder how a static magnetic field would affect most phones. Seems there would have to be an alternating field of some sort to do so. Finally, any links to the 'numbers' (field strength, gauss, whatever the proper term is)?

      I would think that for a magnetic field of the magnitude claimed tesla would be the appropriate measurement. 10,000 gauss= 1 tesla.

  • Ceilings (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:15PM (#37633842)

    "After moving into the homes the couples found that something was not quite right. Their TV screens were distorted. Cordless phones ran into interference. Computer hard drives were corrupted." And, their tinfoil hats were stuck to the ceiling.

    • I don't care if you're an AC--THAT was funny!
    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      My first thought was that it was more of those "wireless/EM sensitive" nutters. If they have tangible proof though, well... this could turn out interesting.

    • "Their TV screens were distorted. Cordless phones ran into interference. Computer hard drives were corrupted."

      All these things have also occurred in my home. I think that the wooden studs in my house may have become magnetized.

  • by Torinir (870836) <.torinir. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:21PM (#37633884) Homepage Journal
    I'm not certain that the company *should* win. But should and will are two different beasts.

    According to TFA "By signing the contracts, the buyers agreed to waive claims for repairs except those specifically mentioned in a separate document, which was available for inspection at a separate location and not before or at the time they bought the houses." The main point is that the restrictions were not available for review where the contract was being provided and signed. Hiding the restrictions on a contract prior to its acceptance? Smells really funky to me, and were I in their shoes, I wouldn't have signed it in the first place.
    • by Rich0 (548339)

      In general buying a warranty from a salesman is a bad move. Free ones are fine if the price is otherwise right. However, if you are buying some kind of service contract, go 3rd party as you'll pay about a third as much and be less likely to get ripped off - you went to somebody because they were a good homebuilder, not a reputable warranty company.

      Oh, and always go with named exclusions, not named inclusions. It is WAY easier to find loopholes in the latter.

    • by bryan1945 (301828)

      As for their claims, either the house was built on top of a giant iron meteorite or they have some electrical wiring problem.

      But what popped out of the article to me was what you quoted. I'm no lawyer, but there has to be some illegal about signing something that has conditions added later unless those conditions are signed on when presented later.
      I imagine Doug Adams writing something like this-
      "Why did you bulldoze my new house?!" "It was in the contract that we could use the materials for scrap." "Whe

  • by jimmyswimmy (749153) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:24PM (#37633908)

    When I have signed contracts to purchase things, I have had to sign waivers limiting liability. Those waivers certainly covered reasonable expectations and disclaimed certain possible defects. This is a terrible problem for both sides, because it is just completely unexpected. I have never before heard of a steel beam's magnetization causing such difficulty. TFA is pretty slim on the real effects they are experiencing. I wonder if this is just one of those pseudo-scientific problems (magnetism = evil?) or if it is a real problem, or if it's just my reading comprehension. It would be interesting to see what the field measurements actually looked like. You'd need a very strong magnet to affect a TV from any significant distance.

    At least with smaller pieces of metal you can whack them a few times to re-randomize the magnetic domains. I don't know if that actually works for something large enough to support a building (you might have to hit it hard enough to damage it or the structure it supports). Depending on the alignment of the magnetic field it might be possible to form an electromagnet to cancel its field ("degauss" it). Or the structural members can be replaced and removed (I've done this in my house). Most of these options are pretty expensive (except for the first one where you hit it a lot with a hammer).

    It seems unfair for me, as a homebuyer, to get stuck dealing with a house which was built with nonstandard components (in the form of a magnetic structural support). From the builder's perspective it seems like this would be something that they would have to eat and then go after the material seller for their losses, if they can prove when the magnetization occurred.

    • by tibit (1762298)

      Degaussing structural steel can be done entirely with stuff you can buy at Harbor Freight for crying out loud. Who the heck needs to replace anything? It doesn't even cost anything. When you're done, return the welder to the store.

      I truly don't buy this story. It can't be just structural steel. I really need to dig into the court documents for this case, I'm in Ohio after all :)

  • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:24PM (#37633910)

    ...get what you pay for.

    When homebuyers decide to get a house within their budget instead of stretching for extra rooms by going cheap on construction, they'll get better quality. Building a 2000 sq ft house on a 1500 sq ft budget means, necessarily, cutting some corners. If you don't realize that, you either aren't paying attention or you are deluding yourself.

    The quality on some of these new houses is really atrocious. I've seen cabinets fall apart after 10-12 years, decks rotting after 15, drywall that won't even hold a painting. I saw a dishwasher held to a cabinet by a pair of wood screws.

    • Why home buyers figure out that a brand new home in a band new subdivision is nothing but a great big PITA for the next 20 years. Get a nice old home if it's been standing for 100 years it's probably going to continue to do so if make sure the roof gutters and siding are in good order.

      • by dAzED1 (33635)
        why would someone buy a 20yo house instead of a 100yo house? Hmm...lets think on that a sec... Well, off the top of my head, how about the dramatically increased knowledge about, and regulations then concerning, electrical wiring during that time period? How about the dramatically different levels of insulation the houses would likely have? Because while an old house may be quaint, nothing sucks like paying high heating bills in the winter as your heat just runs straight out the walls, cracks, and singl
        • by hedwards (940851)

          No kidding. My dad has been remodeling his house and in the process discovered the rather astonishing electrical circuits involved. One of which circles the entire house. And seemingly random splicings that could have burned the house down years ago.

          Not to mention things like the chimney lacking reinforcing in case of earthquakes.

        • I didn't say buy and old house and leave it as it is. The price of the house plus a full interior remodel can be similar to building new. I live in a 109 year old house, first thing I did was replace the electrical with a two story house with open attic and basement it's pretty straight forward. Had electrical well above code in a weekend on a 3k square foot home. Cat 6, rg6 and speaker wiring in another couple weekends nearly up to full structured wiring specs (speakers were matched length straight run

        • by guruevi (827432)

          Dangerous electrical wiring has been replaced in most places (the ones where the leads run uninsulated in the spaces in the walls divided by the wooden beams). Insulation is likewise easily fixed either on the exterior or the interior. It's also been noticed lately that new, fully insulated houses might be worse for your health than those with "holes in the wall". The air gets stagnant and mold develops much easier in these super insulated houses. I just replaced ALL my windows with double pane, LoE3 glass

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Trouble is that most people are clueless to what they're getting, so you can pay a fair price for a 2000 sq ft house and still get crap, except you've spent more. To take a beloved group of workers here on slashdot, is the consultant with the highest price tag the best? And for what it's worth, the amount of hidden problems people take over when they buy old houses is usually larger, not smaller. Sellers will often sell at convienient times, kniwing things will break down very soon but not just yet.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      most dishwashers mount by 2 wood screws.

    • by adolf (21054)

      The dishwasher is just an appliance, not a structural item. How many screws hold the washing machine, clothes drier, fridge, or tank water heater in place?

      The two screws are just there to keep the thing from tipping forward annoyingly when the racks are all the way out. They're perfectly adequate for this role (actually, one screw in the right spot would be adequate -- three points define a plane...).

      I've seen children swing from cabinet doors, teenagers slam them with wild abandon, and homeowners who don

  • Highly Suspect (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bragr (1612015) * on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:25PM (#37633918)

    Have you ever tried to kill a harddrive with a magnet? It basically requires passing a rare earth magnet closely over the platters several times before the data is reliably damaged and if they had that kind of magnetic fields it would cause much bigger problems. And while I don't know to much about the properties EM radiation, I believe that magnetic fields don't interfere with radio waves.

    My guess is that its the steel beams themselves are causing interference with the phones, that they incidentally had hdd failures (they have lived there for like 6 years), and the the steel beams have slight magnetic field because a small amount of current is passing through them (electricians like to ground to steel beams instead of running a ground line back to power box and putting to ground their) and they blame that weak magnetic field for their problems.

    This is all purely speculation because they don't give any real details about the field.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Actually depends on the field. Just remember you don't need to turn around and screw with the plate. You only need to screw around with the electronics. And if the controller screws up, well that's enough to corrupt data all on it's own.

      • by bragr (1612015) *
        I think it would be easier to mess with the data on the platter than the solid state electronics on the control board, especially since the disk is actually moving through the field as a result of the rotation while the control board is stationary.
      • by aXis100 (690904)

        Static magnetic have little to no impact on electronics. Also there would still be more leakage magnetism from the HDD magnets and drive motor than a steel beam from any distance.

      • by tibit (1762298)

        Electronics typically don't give shits nor giggles about static fields, unless magnetic forces due to said fields mechanically damage the devices in question. About the only things that care about static fields are signal isolator chips that use magnetic technology. Those can get saturated with static fields -- I have an ILxxx series isolator (from NVE [nve.com]) and it'd stop working when placed on a PC board right next to the coil of a small safety relay. It was the static field that would cause it to stop working

    • by timnbron (1166139)

      I did an experiment years ago on a 5 inch floppy disk and a fridge magnet. I had to put the magnet in direct contact with the disk surface itself before I got any corruption. If it took that much on a 1980s floppy, it must surely take much more on a shielded and enclosed hard drive.

      Cathode ray tubes certainly. Used to have lots of fun making the screen change colour, until my parents got upset. But it would still take a very strong field even for that.

      • by tibit (1762298)

        Hard drives are not shielded against static magnetic fields. Low-frequency shields are usually made from Mu-metal (or similar materials) and are fragile as hell -- they lose their shielding properties if you handle them incorrectly. You'll find them on cathode-ray oscilloscope tubes, and perhaps magnetometer-type instrumentation. You can easily check for that: get a non-stainelss steel screwdriver and move it around on the surface of hard drive's enclosure (don't touch electronics!). You'll feel it attracte

    • by mortonda (5175)

      electricians like to ground to steel beams instead of running a ground line back to power box and putting to ground their

      Citation please? That is quite contrary to code, and any building inspector would yank the electrician's license if they did that.

      • by bragr (1612015) *
        I don't know if it is contrary to code, but I've seen it done many times. They make special clamps that screw into the metal to make a good ground connection. A quick google search makes it seem like it isn't prohibited in homes in LA county, but I'm not a lawyer or electrician. http://www.ladpw.org/general/forms/download/1003.pdf?CFID=27792607&CFTOKEN=63377110 [ladpw.org]
  • degauss it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bork (115412) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:25PM (#37633922) Homepage

    If its just a couple of beams, it can be degaussed using a arc-welded and a few wraps of the arc-welds cables around the beam. There is a more to the procedure but the tools are easy to obtain. Did this in the Navy, wrap a submarine in about 300 turns of cable and run a few thousand amps through them.

    • If its just a couple of beams, it can be degaussed using a arc-welded and a few wraps of the arc-welds cables around the beam. There is a more to the procedure but the tools are easy to obtain. Did this in the Navy, wrap a submarine in about 300 turns of cable and run a few thousand amps through them.

      And why would a residential house have more than one or two steel beams? I've seen them holding up basements but that's pretty much it. And if it was just one or two beams, the field would have to be absolutely intense or the family is putting all of their electronics on the floor in a straight line over the I beam.

      Something doesn't add up.

    • by mhotchin (791085)

      "wrap a submarine in about 300 turns of cable and run a few thousand amps through them."

      I find your ideas intriguing, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter!

    • Trying to replicate what they did with the Eldridge [wikipedia.org]?
  • by t2t10 (1909766) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:31PM (#37633956)

    Modern TVs aren't influenced by magnetic fields anymore. Static magnetic fields don't cause cell phone interference. And hard drives have such high magnetization that erasing them is extremely hard.

  • Bullshit supreme (Score:4, Informative)

    by tibit (1762298) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:43PM (#37634042)

    The people who claim they are affected are just mixing things that, to their uneducated minds, are the same thing. Static magneticity, radio waves, same difference, right?

    It reads like a bunch of BS. Do they still have CRTs in their TVs? In typical 2-story U.S. homes, there's structural steel in a few isolated places -- a beam or two in the basement, perhaps another beam and a column in the garage. That would, at best, cause some changes in color. It'd need to be substantial to cause geometric distortion of the image itself. You can have typical home speakers a few feet away from a color CRT and there's no effect. That structural steel would need to be magnetized quite well to see the effects they claim.

    Hard drives won't be affected by any remnant magnetization of structural steel that's a byproduct of production, shipping and storage in varied conditions. Same goes for wireless devices -- static fields do nothing much to them. I'll read their case and perhaps pay them a visit, I need to see it to believe it.

    • by Baloroth (2370816) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @10:49PM (#37634864)

      Probably this. However, I do wonder if perhaps the magnetization of the joists isn't a cause, but rather an effect of whatever is messing with their equipment. No one seems to have even considered this possibility (although I do admit I have no real idea what would cause something like that.) Maybe they live next to a transformer or something?

      More likely, their drives are probably just failing over time. It looks like this contractor was rather cheap (there are a lot of other problems with the house as well, apparently), and that could easily cause problems with their phone lines, and improper electrical wiring could cause both the magnetized joists and CRT fluctuations. So, it seems likely they are blaming one thing for what is a multitude of factors. People do this all the time, especially when they don't want to admit they messed up in choosing a cheap-ass contractor.

      • I do wonder if perhaps the magnetization of the joists isn't a cause, but rather an effect of whatever is messing with their equipment.

        Do they live in the beam path of a military grade over-the-horizon radar? Because that is about the only likely suspect (apart from batshit insane home owners).

        My parents house has wiring so bad that it wipes out any AM radio (I discovered that when I took my shortwave rig there for a weekend) but it doesn't do anything to CRT/LCD monitors or affect FM TV/radio reception. To distort TV reception or interfere with electronics would take more power then I have ever seen bad wiring put out.

  • HDD BS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by retech (1228598) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:48PM (#37634078)
    I've got a bulk tape eraser. Which is an electro-magnet. Tried to erase a few laptop and 3.5 hdds with it. I could pick the drives up by it holding onto the scant bits of ferrous metal in them but was unable to blank any of them. I tried one drive for 3 minutes and it still booted an OS just fine. If they had beams that could corrupt their drives their keys, belts, zippers, furniture and every damn thing in the house with metal would be stuck to that wall before that drive got nailed. It's just normal lifetime use/failure of the drive.
  • By signing the contracts, the buyers agreed to waive claims for repairs except those specifically mentioned in a separate document, which was available for inspection at a separate location and not before or at the time they bought the houses.

    I'm amazed that the courts would uphold part of a contract that... isn't part of the contract. That 'separate document' could be literally anything. Show up the day before signing the contract and see one 'separate document'. Show up with a warranty claim after the sale and see a different document. How would you be able to prove that the document is different if it isn't part of the contract, and you don't have your own copy of it???

    • by belmolis (702863)
      I agree, since there isn't a true "meeting of minds" in such a case. However, the courts don't. An example is with airline tickets, where the ticket contains very little and just refers to voluminous documents that can in theory be inspected at the airline's headquarters. The fact is that no one other than perhaps a few aviation attorneys knows what he is actually agreeing to when buying an airline ticket. The courts are fine with this.
  • The state supreme court will only decide whether the case can proceed despite the waiver attached to the purchase agreement. The question of magnetization and its effects (if any) will be decided by a jury if the case goes to trial.

    BTW "magnetized" is not the same as "charged".

  • by clem.dickey (102292) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @09:10PM (#37634228)

    Slashdot summary does not agree with the original article, which says the Supreme Court will only decide whether the couple has the right to sue (a matter of law). Only later might the question move to whether magnetized joists have caused any trouble, a matter of fact.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DedTV (1652495)
      Exactly. The Ohio Supreme are not determining if the builder is liable. They are only determining if it's possible for them to be held liable for things not covered by the Home Warranty.

      Centex's argument is that whether it's their fault or not, it's not covered under the Home Warranty so they can't be held liable even if it was their fault and thus the Jones' can't sue them over it. The Jones' are arguing that they have the right to sue based on "Workmanlike manner" clauses in the law and that those clause

  • If the joists were as magnetic enough to do what they claim, I would hesitate to walk through the house with steel toed boots. One could lose a foot that way.
  • sounds suspect to me but I would not be surprised to hear they won their case given the populations understanding of this stuff.

    LoB
  • I was selling an old CRT (when they were worth something) and I put it on the floor beside my computer. When the guy came in to see it the whole image was screwed. After the guy left I picked up my monitor and it un-distorted. The beam in the floor had somehow become a compass spinning monster. But beyond messing with classified ad sales I don't know what other negative impact it might have had.
  • by mfnickster (182520) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @11:49PM (#37635176)

    Why do you suppose the court was attracted to this case? It seems like it could be very polarizing.

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday October 07, 2011 @01:45AM (#37635730) Homepage

    Obviously they don't have a "magnetic beam" problem. They might have some electrical wiring problem. Those are easy to find.

    Only once have I seen a real "magnet problem". I was trying to get a flux-gate compass to work in a mobile robot at Stanford, and was getting bogus results. So I got an ordinary needle compass, and observed that it didn't point north. I walked around with the compass plotting directions, and the center of the problem was a small building about a block away. When I went into the building, I saw "High Magnetic Field" warning signs, and found out there was a superconducting magnet in there. A big one. Even there, it was only one gauss just outside the lab.

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"

Working...