Lyons Roofing

How to Protect Your Roof from Lightning

Arizona is no stranger to severe weather and sudden storms, particularly during the early months of summer when heat and humidity can lead to sudden rainfall. Low pressure fronts can cause sudden shifts in the air, leading to massive static discharges, otherwise known as lightning strikes. Lightning is a powerful and devastating force that can leave devastation in its wake, especially for tall objects that reach into the sky.

Lightning naturally looks for the path of least resistance to reach the ground, and that usually means buildings and tall structures provide a nice outlet compared to the tremendous resistance it takes to move through open air. That means the roof over your head is at a much greater risk of being struck by lightning during a sudden storm. On this blog, our Phoenix roofers will discuss a few ways in which you can protect your home and prevent lightning from causing sudden, immense damage.

What Can Lightning Do?

Faster than the blink of an eye, a lightning strike can unleash a torrent of damage to your home. A single strike can crack your roof wide open, start a fire in your home, cause brick and other materials to combust or explode, cause trees to fall, and even destroy your home’s electrical components by forcing too much current through them.

With so much at stake, it’s easy to see that the best defense against lightning is a multi-faceted approach that prepares for multiple different outcomes of a lightning strike.

Creating a Conductive Pathway

As stated previously, lightning is an electrical force, and electricity looks for the path of least resistance in order to reach the ground. Because of the immense amount of current and voltage that’s needed to overcome air gaps and distance between the lightning’s source and the ground, taller objects are usually struck first. Thus, the solution to having more control over where lightning will strike is simply to create a taller structure that provides a better path to the earth.

This is exactly what lightning rods do: offer a low-resistance, highly-efficient method for passing the current and voltage from a lightning strike down to the ground that’s away from your roof materials. Lightning rods generally consist of three components:

  • A tall steel rod mounted on the high point of your roof that sticks vertically into the sky, usually constructed from copper or aluminum for their exceptional conductivity
  • Thick, durable cables known as conductor cables, which are attached to this rod on your roof and run down the side of your home and down underground
  • Another thick, large rod buried roughly ten feet or more underground used to discharge the focused energy of a lightning strike

When all three of these materials offer so little resistance, lightning will naturally be drawn to it and the current passing through the connector cable won’t leave or damage your home. Thus, a quality lightning rod system can help you avoid fires, roof damage, and other major problems that lightning can bring about.

Clear Away Tree Branches & Debris

The hot, dry climate in Arizona isn’t conducive to a lot of trees and tall foliage, however what trees do exist need to be regularly trimmed back and kept well clear from your rooftop. Lightning strikes trees all the time, especially when rainstorms make them wet and significantly lower their otherwise-high resistance levels. It’s extremely common for lightning strikes to cause large branches and portions of a tree to break off from a tree and fall through your roof, causing serious damage in the middle of severe weather.

In this same way, it’s also important to make sure that any large cacti or other desert foliage are kept well clear of your home. While cacti can sometimes live for a century or more, they can grow to immense sizes and weights. A lightning strike may cause one to suddenly collapse, dropping hundreds or even thousands of pounds straight onto the side of your home or even your roof.

If you need your roof repaired, contact the experts from Lyons Roofingby dialing (520) 447-2522 to request an estimate!