Are you wondering can lightning enter my electrical panel? Can it go through the whole house? Are you worried about being electrocuted?
As a general rule, lightning takes the least path of resistance during a strike. Since your home is full of copper wiring as a conductor, there is a good chance that a lightning strike will affect your electrical system in some way even if it doesn’t enter your panel directly.
Can Lightning Enter My Electrical Panel?
How can you be sure that lightning never entered your electrical panel? What are some of the indicators that lightning has entered your electrical system?
Obvious signs are that your electrical panel has stopped working, you can smell a funny smell or burn marks on your panel.
One of the signs of possible lightning strike is a very high-pitched ringing noise in your home. There are three types of ringing. • Electrical ringing, which is known as ground hum.
This ringing noise is usually felt on your skin. When this is heard, the main reason is that an electric current has entered the earth, but has bounced off the metal earth and left the main land, where it is very low. • Electrical arcing.
This noise is louder than electrical ringing.
This is usually felt near the source of the arcing, and this arcing will burn the conductors of the copper wires, melting and making them stop ringing.
Can Lightning Enter My Electrical Panel If It Hits Direct?
Anybody who has owned a home knows that lighting hitting your house, and even hitting your roof or window, is almost always not enough to reach your electrical system.
They say lightning never strikes twice. We would say this is definitely true.
However, the same does not hold true for electrical wires. If lightning hits you directly, it will hit the wires directly.
It won’t hit any other parts of your home. It will hit the wires directly. But, if the lightning hits your roof or window, it may get a piece of your electrical system.
Sometimes this piece will be enough to do some damage. A Few Scenarios Where Lightning Interferes with your Electrical System.
We know of a few situations in which lightning can cause significant damage to an electrical system in your home.
Can Lightning Enter My Electrical Panel If It Hits The Power Lines?
According to the Canadian electrical code, a strike on the power lines is not enough to make that charge come into your panel.
In other words, if a bolt of lightning strikes the power line and goes up your walls or into your ceiling, your power meter and line should record the hit and power will go through the meter directly.
This has happened to me before and I was relieved that it hadn’t entered the home.
However, if your power meter is inside your home and hit, that can cause a lot of problems.
If it’s damaged, it might not be accurate (bad), or the meter may not even be registering the current in the house.
You might be living with 100 volts and nothing showing.
Can Lightning Damage My Circuit Breakers?
Lithium polymer battery packs UPS on a circuit breaker panel can help protect you in the event of a strike. Circuit breakers can be “safely separated” in the event of a lightning strike, according to the US Department of Energy.
Protection is an important part of your electrical system. We recommend shutting off your homes main power supply or main breaker if you want to be sure. This will disengage the electrical system from the utility lines.
Most lightning strikes, whether through a thunderstorm or lightning, will not enter your home, but the rain and moisture from a storm can do a number on your roof.
If you are worried about lightning striking your home, check to see if your roof has been recently re-coated with asphalt shingles.
These shingles have been coated with a moisture barrier so rain and water won’t seep through and damage your home.
They will also help protect your roof and your roof tiles from corrosion.
How Do You Protect Your Electrical Equipment From Lightning?
There are a number of steps that you can take to minimize damage and improve your electrical safety. Inspect Your Electrical System Inspect all of your electrical equipment.
Is it in a lightning safe area?
If it’s not, take the time to perform regular maintenance on your equipment.
Protect Your Equipment Maintaining your equipment is just part of the solution. When out in inclement weather, you can reduce the chances of an electrical shock by maintaining proper ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection at critical loads.
Use Electrical Equipment You should never operate equipment on a live power line.
If you do need to operate equipment, always do so from a safe distance away and never over a live wire.
Will It Cause My Panel To Catch On Fire?
No. You shouldn’t be concerned with your electric panel catching on fire.
Most electrical companies have a system in place that will react and adjust automatically to protect it. Some companies will even shut off power to the whole system if it senses any hint of a fire.
Most insurance companies consider lightning strike damage a non-catastrophe claim and provide very little compensation.
In fact, the Better Business Bureau claims lightning strikes are under-insured by most insurance companies.
As mentioned, you should immediately contact your electrical company or electrician and take precautions if you see a lightning strike.
Why Do I Smell Electrical Burning After Lightning Strike?
If you are inside and notice a strong burning odor, it may be that the lightning is passing through your home and just causing the smell.
But it could also be that a fuse or circuit is tripped.
The reason for this odor is two-fold. First, copper switches and wires have natural electrical arcs that can cause a burning odor if lightning strikes them.
Secondly, copper switches and wires have natural electro-magnetic fields that will energize circuit breakers.
These breakers will react to these electrical arcs and trip the circuit, hence the burning smell.
Lightning does have the ability to take out your electrical system, so if your smell electrical burning you should shut your main power switch off and contact your local electrician.
Will My Insurance Company Cover This Damage?
Before you call the electrician, make sure that your insurance company will cover the cost of the repair. For example, if you have homeowners insurance, your policy might only cover the cost of the panel, but not the part of the house where the lightning was striking.
If your policy limits the amount of money the company will pay out in any one claim, your policy might even limit it to $1,000.
In addition, your policy may not cover the cost of the electrical panel at all.
It is possible that another lightning strike could affect your electrical panel.
Who Do I Call To Check Out The Electrical?
First you should turn off all of the lights in the house, including the TV.
Then call a licensed electrician (or electrical technician) immediately.
The contact is going to be the at your local online or in person.
Please be sure that you call as soon as you suspect a problem.
If a problem does develop they will have the resources to help get the problem fixed and keep it from happening again.
If your wiring gets damaged, you should hire a licensed electrician to repair the damage and get the system working safely again.
Or if you need to replace any damaged wire, do not do it yourself.
Are there any remedies to prevent lightning damage?
The best way to prevent lightning damage is to know where lightning is more likely to strike in your home and get your electrical system checked out at least once a year.
The best remedy to prevent lightning damage is to install surge protectors in your home.
Using surge protectors, you can have several different electrical circuits protected by one electrical circuit. You can safely operate all of the different circuits in your home with just one circuit if you have a surge protector.
Many electricians recommend having at least one surge protector in your home to protect all of your home electronics and surge protectors come in several different varieties.
You can buy surge protectors made of copper or you can buy surge protectors that are made of plastic.
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