How to protect your home from lightning

How to protect your home from lightning

The warmer weather inevitably leads to thunderstorms with dramatic lightning zipping across the sky. New insurance claims data reveals that the drama isn’t always confined to the sky and a single lightning bolt can cause thousands of worth of damage to a property, within a matter of seconds. Here's what you can do to protect your home from lightning.

A policyholder claimed £45,000 after a bolt struck his home

A policyholder recently claimed £45,000 on his insurance after a bolt struck his home. The property's electrical system, heating, lighting, telephone lines, TVs, Sky boxes, cooker, dishwasher, washing machine and intruder alarm all needed to be replaced. Other lightning claims have seen pay outs of more than £5,000. Just last year my mother’s neighbour’s property in Buckinghamshire was hit by a bolt resulting in a hefty insurance claim.

Direct Line, which compiled the data, says lightning damage isn’t something they see a lot but it has the potential to be costly if it does strike, so the insurer’s urging us to check what our policy covers to ensure we won’t be left paying the bill. It also lists precautions we can take:

  • If there’s a thunder storm, avoid using or coming into contact with electrical appliances and equipment, telephones and modems (unless it’s an emergency), or plumbing fixtures, such as shower heads or faucets
  • Unplug - the best and most cost-effective way to avoid damage is to unplug electrics (where possible) when not in use or at least when you know a storm is approaching. Consider installing electrical-surge protectors for your electrical items (Maplin and Argos sell these)
  • Reduce the risk - installing a lightning-protection system or an effective lightning-rod system, will provide structural protection by directing the lightning power safely into the ground, leaving the structure and its contents undamaged. It's important to have a licensed electrician install these types of protection systems
  • Maintenance – employ a licensed electrician to carry out an effective electric maintenance and inspection program - over time, the cable or grounding rods may deteriorate to the point where the path to the ground is affected. Lightning travelling down the cable of a faulty system has been known to change its path, passing through wood or some other combustible material offering a better path to ground. The resulting fires can be as large as those occurring in unprotected buildings. It’s also worth considering ‘earth bonding’, which is where all metallic objects in a room, or house are connected to ‘electrical earth’, usually a gas and or water pipe. Again, when undertaking any maintenance always use a licensed electrician. You can find one via the Electrical Safety First website.

There are more money-saving tips in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.