Building a home is one of the most important investments you will make in your lifetime. Keeping your family safe and protecting your property are important considerations as you decide where you will build and which options to choose. Besides security systems and smoke and fire alarms, another consideration should be a lightning protection system.
Some common questions in regards to the importance and effectiveness of a lightning protection system:
Q. Is there a monthly charge or fee once a system is installed?
A. Unlike a security system, there is no monthly charge that you will incur.
Q. Is there any kind of maintenance required for the system?
A. Not really. Once a system is installed, it will provide years of carefree and maintenance-free service. The system is passive and remains idle until the time it intercepts a strike. If you build an addition to your home, re-roof or find roof damage after severe weather, call your local contractor for assistance.
Q. How does a lightning protection system actually work?
A. As thunderclouds form in the skies above, negative charges drop to the bottom of the clouds. At the same time, positive charges may leap from the structure, trying to connect with the negative charges. If the two charges meet, the system will take the charge safely to ground. If there is no system to carry the charge, the negative charge will connect with a tree or other unprotected structure and will likely cause damage as it makes its way to ground.
Q. If I have tall trees on my property, won’t these protect my house?
A. No. Tall trees are often struck by lightning. Even though a tree is struck, this doesn’t mean the homeowner is safe and exempt from any damage. Often, a lightning strike will “side flash” from a tree to a nearby structure, telephone line, or a water or gas pipe and the current will make its way into the house. Indirect strikes can cause as much damage as direct strikes.
Lightning is the leading cause of fires in suburban and rural areas, making this well-known natural phenomenon nature’s most destructive force.
Q. I have insurance on my home. Won’t that cover any issues related to lightning damage?
A. Yes is the short answer. However, if your home is totally destroyed by a fire due to a lightning strike, family heirlooms, antiques, art, family photos, etc. will be gone forever and can never be replaced. A lightning protection
system will provide the necessary protection.
Q. What is a lightning protection system?
A. A system is made up of 5 different key components: conductor cable, air terminals (lightning rods), utility bonds, surge protection and ground rods.
Q. I don’t want to see cable and other components on my roof. Can a system be concealed so that it is out of sight?
A. During new construction, our installers will conceal as much of the system as possible. The cable will run under the roof, through insulation, roof trusses and down through the exterior walls. Today’s systems use slender 12” length air terminals which are fairly inconspicuous and are unlikely to be seen by the casual observer.
Q. If a system is in contact with all of these combustible materials, won’t it heat up and cause a fire?
A. No. The system is designed to safely carry lightning currents to ground without causing damage to the protected structure. The strike travels to the ground in a fraction of a second – there is no time for the cable to heat to a flashpoint and cause a fire.
Q. My home’s electrical service will be “grounded”. Isn’t that all I need?
A. No. Various utilities that enter the house are grounded but these grounds are not intended to prevent lightning damage. If a lightning protection system is installed on the house, the utilities – which include the electrical service ground and the gas pipe – will be tied into the system.
Q. If I install a surge protector on my electric service entrance, won’t that protect me from lightning strikes?
A. No. These units are part of a lightning protection system and are designed to minimize electrical surges, but a unit by itself will not protect you from a direct lightning strike.
Q. Will a lightning protection system attract lightning?
A. No. It will neither attract nor deter lightning from striking, as many people believe. The system merely creates a conduit or method for the strike to discharge safely into the ground.
Q. How effective is a lightning protection system? In other words, does it really work?
A. The system is very effective in preventing damage from lightning and preventing lightning from entering a structure. Underwriters Laboratories state that systems are nearly 99% effective when properly installed.
Q. Do I really need a lightning protection system? Is it worth my investment?
A. Yes, it is worth the investment. Installing a system will bring peace of mind and eliminate the need for worry as thunderstorms approach. Your family will be safe and your furnishings and valuables will all be protected from lightning strike dangers. This is especially true in areas of the country that are more prone to lightning. The system will be working for you day and night year round, whether you are home or away.
We hope the information we have shared has helped as you consider a lightning protection system for your new home. IPC is a designer and manufacturer of equipment used in lightning protection systems. Since 1934, our company has assisted engineers, architects, general contractors and IPC dealer contractors in this important safety element.
Please feel free to contact the IPC Team with any general questions about lightning, lightning protection or system installation. Thank you again for consideration of a lightning protection system.