According to the National Weather Service, an average of 25 million lightning strikes occur each year in the U.S. In Illinois there were 534,615 cloud-to-ground flashes in 2013 – a low from the average of 813,719 (according to NOAA.gov). These lightning strikes can cause significant damage to your home but there are things you can do to protect your home.
Reduce your Risk of Damage from Lightning Strikes
One of the best protections against lightning strikes and electrical surges is installing a whole-house surge protector. It’s the best starting point for reducing the risk of damage due to an electrical fire. Before installing a whole-house surge protector, make sure that the components of your home’s electrical system are not already overheating or failing with an infrared electrical inspection.
The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IIBHS) recommends the the surge protector be “either a secondary surge arrestor tested to IEEE C62.11 or a transient voltage suppressor that has been tested to UL 1449, 2nd Edition.” (https://www.disastersafety.org/lightning/protect-your-home/)
It is important to note that a whole-house surge protector will not protect your home from a direct lightning strike. The best way to protect your home from direct strikes is to add lightning protection systems like lightning rods to your home.
External Protection from Lightning Strikes
Lightning protection systems are designed to protect the structure on which they are installed by giving the lightning a specified path to follow and safely discharge the tremendous current of a lightning strike.
A lightning protection system does not repel strikes, nor does it attract them. It receives a strike that occurs and routes the energy into the earth where is it harmlessly disbanded thereby preventing a dangerous electrical event from occurring. Lightning rods are not 100% effective in protecting your home from a fire, but they reduce the likelihood of a lightning strike igniting your home.
Internal Protection from Lightning Strikes
If lightning hits your house and you do not have a lightning protection system, that surge of electricity follows the wiring through your home and into your electronics. A single lightning strike can cost thousands of dollars in electronics damage, destroying televisions, computers, appliances – anything that is plugged in when the strike occurs.
One safeguard is to unplug electronics that are not being used when you are expecting a storm, but that’s not always practical. Surge protectors help electronic equipment from power spikes but lightning is so powerful it’s been known to jump through surge protectors – even across a room.
Ideally, the combination of electrical system inspection with lightning rods, a whole-house surge protection system, and individual surge protectors is the best overall protection against lightning strikes. Of course, installing good quality fire and smoke alarms is also highly recommended.
Andrew MacDonald can help homeowners with an electrical system inspection before your lightning protection system is installed. He works throughout Algonquin, Elgin, Hoffman Estates, and the surrounding areas. Give him a call today at 888-852-8298 to schedule your infrared electrical inspection today.