When it’s hot and humid in Charlotte and the Carolinas, it means thunderstorms are likely, sometimes it seems like every day. In any storm, lightning can strike and damage a house. While you’d never expect it, it can happen. It’s helpful to be prepared and know what to do right after such a freak, but scary event. You can know what to do if your house is struck by lightning.
What Happens When Lightning Strikes a Building?
Lightning can go straight from clouds to the ground without a conduit. It can also go to the ground in a conductor. Anything that carries electricity can conduct lightning, including gas and pipes, electrical lines, phone lines, water lines, TV or internet lines, gutters, downspouts, as well as home window frames. Lightning can travel to the ground through one of these objects. It can also make a person a conductor.
Once lightning strikes and moves through a conductor, it can branch off via others, energizing lots of parts of a home at the same time in its trip to the ground. Sometimes, it will jump or “arc” through the air from one conductive object to one more. This arcing is called “side flash.” For example, lightning might first attach to gutters on a house then jump to windows or water pipes.
When lightning strikes anything it discharges an unbelievable amount of energy and heat. A bolt of lightning can be up to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, or about five times hotter than the surface of the Sun.
It’s understandable if this is very scary. If your house is hit by lightning and it’s very close or direct, you will hear a sudden, massive boom. The strike can shake the whole house. Homes are generally built to survive a lightning strike, but this is a huge force. This is a reason for a lightning rod on a structure, to divert the lightning’s path to the ground just slightly away from your house and avoid major damage, if not a major scare.
What Damage Can Lightning Cause on Your House?
Lightning can cause severe damages if it strikes your house. The threat of fire is very high. Lightning frequently ignites flammable product in, on or close to buildings. Strikes can create fires directly, or material can catch fire from the electric current and heat. If your property has gas piping, lightning strikes may harm shutoffs, regulators, or appliances, creating a gas leakage.
When a lightning strike hits electrical wiring, it can cause an explosion. This may create a fire and destroy wires or components. The strike can damage any type of home appliances (especially electronics like computers) that are connected to the electrical system. Surge guards can shield against some surges however they are unlikely to stop damage from a direct lightning strike.
Damage can occur from the shock waves lightning produces. Lightning shock can be devastating from a very close strike. It can damage or destroy buildings. It is powerful enough to crack or break concrete, brick and rock. Bricks and chimneys are the most at risk to lightning damage. Shock waves can crack things inside a home or cause shrapnel and debris that can cause more of a safety threat or damage.
What Do I Do After a Lightning Strike?
During a thunderstorm or severe weather, stay away from pipes, plumbing, electrical wire and cords. If you can unplug electronics before the storm, it’s a good idea. Don’t take a shower or use running water during the storm. If you’re in a basement, garage, patio or yard, you should wear shoes.
First and most important, if your house is hit by lightning, first, make sure everybody is fine and safe. If you see fire or smell smoke, evacuate your residence as soon as possible. Call 911. Tell the 911 operator your home was struck by lightning. Do this whether or not there is a fire threat. The fire department will get to your home and assess the area for hazards and damages. The fire personnel may use of thermal imaging cameras to detect inside walls for heat that might cause or has actually started a fire. There could be other structural damage to a roof, windows or walls. Once your house is analyzed and found safe, you can return inside.
Once you’ve completed these steps, call your insurance company and report what has occurred. Now, call an expert electrical contractor to further inspect and if needed repair your home’s electrical wiring and system.
If Your Home is Struck by Lightning, Follow These Steps
- First, make sure everybody is fine. If you see fire or smell smoke, evacuate the house immediately.
- Call 911. Tell them your home was struck by lightning. Do this whether or not you know of a fire or other major damage.
- The fire department will arrive and address the emergency if there is one, then check the property for damage.
- Call your insurance provider and report what has taken place.
- Call a trustworthy electrician to inspect your residence wiring and do any repairs or maintenance.
What if There’s Roof Damage?
If lightning strikes your home directly, it can damage the roof or attic. Lightning can also damage or destroy chimneys, gutters and siding, along with shingles, insulation and windows. You might need to contact a professional roofing contractor right away. There could be fire damage or another emergency, such as a hole, which has to be fixed as soon as possible.
When is it a Good Time to Call an Electrician? Your best bet? Hire an expert to do the job. South End Electric has the background and understanding to ensure a safe and smooth installation. We can provide everything you need when thinking about a whole home generator for your home and family. Our professionals provide whole-house generator sales and installation to meet your needs. See everything South End Electric can do for you. Call us direct at 704-368-4694.