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Protecting your home from lightning damage

February 24, 2016
A lightening protection system could prevent thousands of dollars worth of damage to your home.

Whether lightning strikes your home during a thunderstorm is mostly left to chance, but there is a lot you can do to lower the risk of damage should your home be struck. According to The Lightning Protection Institute, just one lightening bold can contain over 30 million volts of electricity. Protecting your home from lightning is key to maintaining the safety of your family as well as avoiding massive property damage.

According to the National Weather Service, lightning causes almost $1 billion worth of damage every year, including approximately 4,400 home structure fires. 200,000 lightning-related insurance claims are made annually, and if you want to avoid making one of them, you may want to invest in a lightning protection system.

What is a lightning protection system?

LPI laid out the main components of a lightening protection system:

  • Air terminals:  lightning rods installed on the roof to capture the strike
  • Main conductors:  braided cables that connect the air terminals to rest of the system
  • Grounds:  at least two ground rods that carry the electric current into the earth to prevent it from touching the property
  • Bonds:  join the roof and ground components to a main conductor that helps prevent the current from leaping from object to object
  • Surge arresters and suppressors:  prevent fires by protecting electric panels from overvoltage.

"Lightning causes almost $1 billion worth of damage every year.”

In addition to installing a lightning protection system on the exterior of your home, LPI also said a system should be used on any tree within 10 feet of your property. To have one or more systems installed, contact a lightning protection professional.

Other important safety measures

Whether or not you install a comprehensive protection system, there are a few other important safety measures that can lower your risk of lightning damage. The Department of Homeland Security said to get rid of any trees or branches that look rotted or dead and to secure anything that looks like it could blow away during a thunderstorm. You should also unplug your electrical equipment during a storm. For your family's personal safety, make sure no one uses a corded phone or comes into contact with any plumbing or electricity.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average cost per home insurance claim for lightning losses in 2014 was $7,400. Your home insurance probably covers you for lightning damage, but you may want to speak with your provider to make sure.