How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

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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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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about ELECTRICAL WIRING:

Which house appliances need a dedicated electrical circuit?

Can a short circuit cause a high electric bill?

What is the maximum spacing requirement for securing NM-cable (nonmetallic-sheathed cable)?

Is it alright to just put wire nuts on the end of unused or abandoned NM-cable or wiring?

What causes copper wires to turn green or black in an electric panel?  

What are typical aluminum service entrance wire/cable sizes for the electrical service to a house?

Why is it unsafe to bond neutral and ground wiring at subpanels?

Why is a strain relief clamp necessary for the cord connection to some electric appliances?  

Does a wire nut connection need to be wrapped with electrical tape?

What is the minimum clearance of overhead electric service drop wires above a house roof?

What are the requirements for NM-cables entering an electric panel box? 

What is the color code for NM cable (Romex®) sheathing?

Why is undersize electric wiring in a house dangerous? 

What causes flickering or blinking lights in a house?

Why are old electrical components not always "grandfathered" as acceptable by home inspectors?

How can I find out the size of the electric service to a house?

Can old electrical wiring go bad inside a wall? 

What is an open electrical splice?

What are the most common electrical defects found in a home inspection? 

What is the life expectancy of electrical wiring in a house? 

What is an "open junction box"? 

How dangerous is old electrical wiring? 

What is a ground wire? 

I heard that aluminum wiring is bad. How do you check for aluminum wiring?  

What is "knob and tube" wiring?  

What is the code requirement for receptacle outlets in a closet?

   Visit our ELECTRICAL and SAFETY pages for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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