Those working in the installation and repair of lightning protection systems are performing a sophisticated technical part of the electric trade. Special training is available from the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI), which then tests the knowledge of installation techniques. A certificate shows successful completion of each exam, ranging from journeyman installer through designer/inspector.
Job duties require walking on rooftops, working while standing on platforms and climbing ladders. Lightning protection contractors install, repair and alter requires knowledge of different types or rods and their placement and the ability to read blueprints and follow detailed instructions regarding installation of cables, rods and connectors. Maintenance of electrical and electronic wiring, such as cable, is another requirement.
To create protection from lightning, it is essential to know the square footage of the house or building, location of underground metal pipes and well casings, and the height of each structural section. Sinking metal underground is another step in this process, as is the process of making a continuous loop to divert and carry the electrical charge from the lightning safely into the ground.
Tools used to Install and Repair Lightning Protection
The use of hand power tools such as power saws and drills are essential to this type of job. Skill in testing electrical systems and continuity of circuits with voltmeters, oscilloscopes and ohmmeters give the lightning protection technician the feedback needed to verify the system is working properly and help locate a problem area, since a break destroys effectiveness.
Items to consider adding include whole house surge protector and lightning protection rods to safely absorb and carry the charge from the lightning.
A quality stepladder is very important, as it provides safe access to areas that are part of the lightning protective system. Always check the weight rating of the ladder to confirm all workers can safely use it and that the ladder is tall enough to allow reach while standing on a safe step.
Have the proper equipment and gear for walking along the sloped levels of roofing, which helps avoid accidents caused by slipping and falling. Keep the braided copper cable near the area in which you are working to limit the steps needed traveling back and forth along the roof to gather material.
Do not crush the roofing while installing the lightning rods, also known as air terminals. Fasten rods on the chimney with anchor straps so that they are secure. Get a lightning protection setup that is UL approved. Have the system checked regularly according to the manual to confirm it is working properly.
Benefits of Lightning Protection
Proper design, grounding and installation are vital if a system that has protection from lightning is going to work. Although the rod does not attract the lighting or repel it, it does create the path of least resistance by intercepting the strike before it hits the building.
The system depends on air terminals, which most of us refer to as lightning protection rods, on top of the roof, cables and connectors, and at least two rods sunk deep into the ground. The current safely follows the path to the ground and below. Some of the things near or in houses and buildings that conduct lightning include:
- Metals in pipes such as copper and iron
- Phone, cable, TV and computer wiring
- Metal siding, gutters, doors and windows
Protect your home further by installing lightning arrestors or a whole house surge protector on incoming phone, power and cable lines to deter lightning traveling along power lines.