Should I get a lightning rod system to protect my house?
Thursday, June 21, 2018
Deciding whether or not to have a lightning protection system installed on your roof depends on how much risk you are willing to accept. Homes with a lighting rod system will definitely not endure lightning damage, but most houses without one will also be spared. The likelihood of a strike on your home is low, but the results can be devastating. Many homes catch fire and are destroyed.
Insurance will cover any loss but, if you are home at the time of the lightning strike, the event is literally shocking. A homeowner we talked with at a recent home inspection told us about lightning that hit her roof one evening last year. She described the boom and strange blue arcing light that streaked around the room just as she was putting her son to bed. Her husband was at a computer with his hands on the keyboard at the time, and he was knocked across the room.
The house filled with smoke, and everyone was numb afterwards from what she called “something like an intense static electricity shock.” The fire department came, located an entry hole in the roof, and searched the attic for any smoldering fire, but found none. Their symptoms dissipated by the next day and the insurance company fixed the roof. While the family was grateful their house didn’t burn down, she said it was not something they ever want to experience again.
Even though the odds of a lightning strike on your home are low, they are higher here than other parts of the country. During the rainy season in Central Florida, we get between 80 and 100 thunderstorms, making us the “Lightning Capital of the U.S.” The high incidence of storms is caused by the almost-daily summertime collision over the center of the state of the sea breezes from the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.
A lightning protection system is not cheap, costing up to several thousand dollars depending on the size and shape of your house. Decorative lightning rods, like the one shown at the top of the page, are one option. But most residential lighting systems are designed to be barely noticeable.
Although a home located near high-voltage power lines raises concerns about electromagnetic radiation, they also provide the equivalent of a very tall lightning rod system for nearby homes. See our blog posts Should I buy a house near a high-voltage power line? and How often does lightning strike a house in Florida?
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