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What If Lightning Strikes Your House?

Lightning
Lightning might be a marvel of nature, but it’s not so marvelous if it hits your home.

 

Does it seem as if seasonal storms grow more frequent and intense every year? Maybe not, but the media coverage certainly leads in that direction. One thing is certain, though. Lightning strikes happen everywhere. And if it happens to your home, you might need a roof replacement and many other repairs.

Lightning Travels Fast and is Terribly Furious

There’s good sense behind the idiom “as fast as lightning.” In mere seconds, your home can go from perfectly sound to severely damaged from one lightning strike. Its ultimate goal is to reach the ground, but it will take any path that it pleases to get there.

When lightning strikes a house, it can travel in any number of directions. Roofs often take a major hit, and metal gutters are especially susceptible, too. The surge usually takes the path of least resistance, which means electricity can run throughout all of the wiring and even plumbing in your home. But it can also jump from one conductor to another.

 

Gutter damage
You may find damaged shingles, gutters, or even a hole through the roof.

 

Roof Damage Can Occur From the Strike or the Aftermath

A bolt of lightning is damaging enough on its own. It can puncture a roof, sear the surrounding materials, and tear through attics. A powerful enough strike can tear off shingles and gutters, leaving the roof a disaster.

Fire is another serious concern, says ABC KGUN9 News. Lightning doesn’t just travel, it can ignite anything that it touches. And if it travels through wiring, the damage can cause an electrical fire from exposed wires anywhere in the house. That’s why experts advise home owners to quickly check for any signs of fire or charred marks on the roof, in the attic and throughout the home.

 

Gutter damage
Electronics may not work properly, or not at all, after a lightning strike.

 

Electronics are Common Lightning Casualties

Anything electronic in your home is susceptible to damage from a lightning strike. The surge of power through the wiring can destroy computers, televisions, and other electronics. And it can also damage electrical appliances such as refrigerators.

A strike doesn’t have to contact your home directly to cause damage. If its proximity is near enough, indirect lightning can strike a power line and travel to your home using that conductive path, according to Richard Kithil, of the Denver-based National Lightning Safety Institute in an interview with the national ABC News.

What You Should Do if Lightning Strikes Your Home

You probably won’t wonder if your house does experience a strike. Thunder and lightning are loud, but a direct strike is unmistakable. Your power will likely go out, there will probably be an enormous explosive sound, and you might hear buzzing or hissing sounds afterward.

Washington State University Extension Energy Program says that after you make your initial emergency checks for roof damage and fire, you should inspect these elements to determine whether there is any damage:

  • Check circuit breakers, outlets, a light switches for functionality
  • Check the home’s wiring using a resistance tester to determine whether any wiring is damaged
  • Test landline telephones to see whether they still work
  • Test the pressure in water supply lines to identify any leaks
  • Visually inspect for leaks in all plumbing lines

 

Gutter damage
A quick call after the storm can put your home on the road to recovery.

 

A lightning strike is a frightening experience. And although they happen more frequently than anyone would want, the risk of being hit is rare. But if it happens to your home, the actions that you take right away can save your home from further damage.

If your roof suffers lightning damage, Harry Helmet is the one to call. We can assess the total damage, give you a reasonable, no-commitment estimate, and make the professional roofing repairs to restore and protect your home. A furious storm might take its toll, but we’ll make everything right again.

Written by Del Thebaud

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