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Can Lightning Damage Your Home’s Electrical And Plumbing System?

Can Lightning Damage Your Home’s Electrical And Plumbing System?

We all know how dangerous it is to be caught outside in a lightning storm. However, what people are less knowledgeable about is the danger that lightning can pose for your home and your home’s electrical and plumbing system. Sure, being struck by lightning is a risk and you should always take precautions when a storm is going on, but too many people focus solely on what lightning can do to them while neglecting the risk of lightning damage to your home. So, in this post, we are going to go over the various ways that lightning can damage your home’s electrical system and plumbing system.

Who is most at risk of lightning damage?

So, not every part of the country is at an equal risk of suffering lightning damage. Someone who lives in the northern part of Australia is at a far greater risk of having their home or their electrical system damaged by lightning than someone who lives in the southern part of the country. So, if you live in Darwin (or any other northern city or town) then you should be aware that your home is at a far greater risk of lightning damage than your neighbours in Sydney or Melbourne. As you can see from this article, certain parts of the country, especially those which are wet and hot, are the most lightning prone areas.

Now, of course, lightning strikes everywhere, so everyone, no matter what part of the country they live in, can benefit from this post, we just wanted to make sure that people know which parts of the country are most vulnerable.

How lightning can damage your home

Alright, so we are now going to cover the various ways that lighting can cause damage to your home, specifically focusing on your home’s electrical system and plumbing system.

Electrical system

Power surges

When lightning strikes your home, you risk experiencing what is called a “power surge.” Basically, the lighting puts so much extra power into your home’s electrical system that the system was not meant to accommodate. This essentially causes your home’s electrical system to overload.

The damage of a power surge can vary wildly. In some cases, a power surge will simply cause your home’s electrical system to shut down. All you will need to end up doing is flipping the breaker and everything will go back to normal. This is the best-case scenario.

In other cases, a power surge can actually fry electrical appliances in your home. What happens is that the extra power generated by the power surge needs somewhere to go, and so it goes into appliances hooked up to your home electrical system (think of things like televisions, computers, video game consoles, kitchen appliances, etc.). Home appliances are not designed to handle that much power and so they get damaged. A power surge caused by a lightning strike has the potential to cause thousands of dollars in damages. If you happen to plug a lot of things into a single outlet, then it is recommended that you stop doing that.

Thankfully, power surges can be partially stopped through the use of a surge protector. Any electrician can install a surge protector for you and it is recommended that you get at least one for your house. If you are interested in reading more, please see our previous post on surge protectors.

Damaged wiring

Although power surges are probably the most well-known way that lighting can damage an electrical system, equally as dangerous is the damage that lightning can do to your home’s wiring. That’s right, the lightning can travel through your home’s wiring system and cause internal damage to the wiring, rendering it useless.

After a particularly bad lighting strike, you might find that some of your home’s outlets have stopped working. This a sign that lighting has caused some internal damage to your home’s wiring. The solution is to call in a licenced electrician and get them to identify which wires have been damaged and to start rewiring your home.

But, just because your wiring is working, does not mean that the lightning did no damage. It is possible that the lightning may have physical damage to the wiring, such as burning away insulation. If this is the case then you need to be worried about the possibility of arcing and electrical fires. Electrical fires especially are extremely dangerous, you can read more about the dangers of electrical fires and how to avoid them here.

Plumbing

This may come as a surprise to some of you since most of you out there probably do not know that lightning can actually damage your home’s plumbing system as well. It is actually a huge problem in some parts of the world, specifically ones prone to lightning, like Florida and Northern Australia.

For example, take a look at this article written way back in 1996. The article talks about how lightning is causing damage to people’s plumbing systems in Orlando. Orlando, for those who do not know, is much like Darwin in that it is more prone to receiving lightning storms than other parts of the country. The city authorities estimated that over 90% of all pipe leaks were caused by lightning.

You may be wondering how lightning causes a pipe leak. Well, what happens is that the lighting strikes the metal pipe and travels through the pipe. Since the electricity is essentially trapped, it starts to arc, which can cause holes to appear. The size of the hole is dependent entirely on how much electricity is traveling through the pipes, and can range from very small to relatively large.

Now, it can be hard to determine what causes a pipe to leak, so you may have had lightning cause a leak before or you may not have, it is difficult to tell. If you happen to have leaky pipes, then you should, of course, give us, or another licensed plumber, a call right away.