lightning strikes

What Happens if Lightning Strikes a House?

Thunderstorms are often associated with lightning. These weather events involve high winds, rain, and electrical charges, which can severely damage your roof and home.

Lightning bolts travel from the clouds to the ground and are drawn to anything that conducts electricity. It means phone lines, cable TV, water and gas pipes, gutters, and metal window frames are prone to strikes.

Damage to electrical components of your home can start a fire, which can destroy your chimney, room, and interior structure. It’s vital to take precautions and be ready to take action if lightning strikes your house.

How Do You Know if Your House Is Struck by Lightning?

Knowing the signs of lightning damage to your home allows you to act quickly. The smell of smoke, a power outage, or a fire are common signs that lightning may have struck your home.

Fire Damage on the Roof

Lightning can cause extensive damage to your home since it can ignite wood and other flammable materials. Lightning strikes have the potential to reach up to 50,000° F, which is enough to start fires, especially as it passes through the roof or the attic.

Sometimes, strikes can generate fires on contact. In other situations, the electrical current passing through wiring can cause heat to rise and ignite a fire.

If you have a wood roof or traditional asphalt shingle, you may want to consider installing a lightning rod to help dissipate the electrical current. Homes with gas piping may experience explosions since lightning strikes can damage the appliance connectors and valves, leading to flammable gas leaks.

Shock Wave Damage

Lightning generates shock waves that can destroy stone, brick, concrete, plaster walls, and more. The sheer force that a lightning bolt has can fracture all structures of your home.

Stone and brick chimneys are prone to shock waves since the vibrations can ruin the mortar, enabling rainfall to leak through the gaps. Staying out of your home is essential until you or professionals have cleaned up the damage since shattered glass and cracks can lead to injury.

gray and cloudy lightning

Power Surge Damage

As mentioned, lightning is drawn by an electrical charge, meaning its first path to the ground is typical through your home’s wiring. When the bolt strikes the electrical system, it generates a power surge that damages every appliance in your home.

A power surge means irreparable damage to all intricate components of your devices, appliances, and wires.

Plugging your devices and appliances into a surge protected is recommended to decrease the potential damage. Make sure to include your cable TV wiring, internet, and phone in surge protection.

While surge projectors can mitigate small surges, they can’t prevent damage from a direct hit. Therefore, you may want to unplug all electrical devices and appliances during a storm.

If you’ve already experienced electrical damage, it’s imperative to stay away from wires and cords. Electrical currents can travel long distances in wires, especially in rural areas.

Water and Pipes

Water and metal are prime conductors for electricity, meaning those on or near water are significantly at risk. Electrical currents can stealthily travel distances away into your home through shared pipes, so it’s vital to avoid using water lines during a storm. You shouldn’t shower, cook, do laundry, or wash your hands.

Sometimes, storms can damage your home’s plumbing system. Check for leaks in your pipes to ensure your plumbing is still functioning.

Ground Conductivity

Electrical currents can travel along the ground for some time before they become nonexistent. It often travels through soil, greenery, and moist concrete.

Staying away from garages is essential since the concrete floors contain wire mesh. Typically, dry basements are the safest place to hide during severe thunderstorms.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most common questions that homeowners have about lightning strikes.

Can Your House Catch on Fire From Lightning?

A lightning strike holds a massive surge of electricity and flows to the path of least resistance to the ground. These enormous currents of electricity are attracted to the conductive material in your home.

When the currents pass through these materials, such as the wiring, or metal in your home, it raises the temperature significantly, causing it to ignite and catch fire. Once fire starts, it can spread to any flammable material in your house.

Can a Lightning Strike Destroy a House?

Yes, lightning can cause significant wreckage to a home and destroy its interior structure. The severity of the destruction will depend on whether the lightning hit your home directly and the types of damage it caused.

How Rare Is It to Get Your House Struck by Lightning?

Yes, it’s very rare to have lightning strikes. According to Insurance Information Institute, some states like Florida, Texas, Georgia, and California experience more lightning strikes than others.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare. The first step is to understand the potential signs of damage from lightning strikes.

What Should I Do if Lightning Strikes My Home?

Lightning strikes are often an overlooked natural disaster that can cause severe damage to your home. While less than one in a million gets hit, they have a much higher chance of homes, which could lead to significant structural damage.

Call your local fire department immediately if your house is struck by lightning. Once the storm and damage have passed, you can assess the damage to your house.

Fortunately,  All Dry USA offers repair services to fix any water, fire, and smoke damage to your home. Get in touch with our restoration company to improve your odds of restoring your property.

Ben Suiskind
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