It is essential that Lightning Protection Systems be designed, installed and maintained by trained and competent engineers. All of our Lightning Protection UK operatives are CSCS card holders.
A Lightning Protection System (LPS) is put into place to prevent or lessen lightning strike damage to buildings and property. Lightning can strike the same structure time and time again, which is why it is essential to have a Lightning Protection System installed.
A Risk Assessment could be needed in some instances and we do offer this service. Once you have established the need for a Lightning Protection System, a system will then need to be designed specifically for the structure it is required for.
Quite often, very tall structures/areas such as mountains, tower blocks (flats) and radio towers are more likely to be struck because of the narrow gap between the charge separation of the ground below and the charge cloud above. Lightning is formed to balance a charge separation; positive and negative. When the charge builds up enough to overcome the resistance of the air, the opposite charge will race upwards along the structure more easily, then through the air. As a result the gap between the 2 charges is lessened, this creating an increased chance of a strike. Lightning also presents hazards to smaller structures such as houses, small factories, offices, schools, churches and many more.
Three of the main hazards of a direct lightning strike are: -
Fire Damage - The biggest danger lightning poses to these types of buildings is fire. Wood and other flammable building materials can be very easily ignited, where an exposed lightning channel comes into contact with or passes through them. It is most common for lightning to start a fire in the roof of a property or building, as the channel quite often has to pass through some of the structural material in a roof before it can reach a more conductive path such as wiring or pipe work. When a lightning current passes through cables or wires, it will most likely cause a fire, this could happen anywhere along the affected circuits.
Shockwave damage - Another significant source of damage from lightning comes through the explosive shockwave. The shockwaves that lightning create is what produces the thunder sound that we hear. At close range these shockwaves can be very destructive. Lightning can easily break or fracture brick, stone or concrete. Chimneys are one of the more common areas of a building severely damaged by lightning. Shockwaves caused by lightning can quite easily create trenches in soil, shatter glass, blow out plaster walls and crack foundations. Shrapnel is a common secondary damaging effect.
Power surge damage - If lightning chooses any of the buildings electrical wiring as its primary or secondary route, the explosive surge can damage anything, even non electrical appliances that are connected. Even if most of the lightning current takes another path to the ground, the buildings electrical system will experience enough of a surge to probably cause significant damage to anything connected to it. Mostly anything electrical receiving most of the damage.
A professionally installed and well maintained lightning protection system will certainly reduce and potential to eliminate fire and injury hazards to a building and the public in it.
It is recommended that a Lightning Protection system be maintained properly and tested and inspected on an annual basis, we like other specialist LP Companies, do recommend 11 monthly testing, this then ensures that all weather conditions and seasonal change are taken into consideration.