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  1. #1
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    Default Lightning arrestor grounded to water line

    In ten years of inspecting I have seen only 2 houses in SE Wisconsin with lightning arrestor systems, (although as a kid on the farm I noticed all the barns had them). So I do not claim to be an expert. The system on a house last week looked pretty normal - several spikes on top and the chimney, all connected to heavy braided cables running down opposite corners of the house. But while on one corner the cable appeared to be grounded to a ground rod (there was snow cover and frozen ground), on the other corner, the cable ran along the ground and terminated at a clamp on a hose bib. I supposed a lightning charge might go to ground, but would it not also possibly energize all the plumbing in the house? Or do you think the guy just thought he figured out a way to get a little extra hot water?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Lightning arrestor grounded to water line

    The lightning protection system's primary conductor (also*referred to as the 'down conductor' and as the 'main conductor') is required to be connected to a grounding electrode and connected to the electrical systems grounding electrode system.

    The hose bibb may be connected to a metal water pipe (or it may not), but that metal interior water pipe is not a grounding electrode and is not bonded to the grounding electrode system as required with a properly sized bonding conductor ... and there should be two points of grounding, one at each end of the lightning protection system.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Lightning arrestor grounded to water line

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Kautz View Post
    In ten years of inspecting I have seen only 2 houses in SE Wisconsin with lightning arrestor systems, (although as a kid on the farm I noticed all the barns had them). So I do not claim to be an expert. The system on a house last week looked pretty normal - several spikes on top and the chimney, all connected to heavy braided cables running down opposite corners of the house. But while on one corner the cable appeared to be grounded to a ground rod (there was snow cover and frozen ground), on the other corner, the cable ran along the ground and terminated at a clamp on a hose bib. I supposed a lightning charge might go to ground, but would it not also possibly energize all the plumbing in the house? Or do you think the guy just thought he figured out a way to get a little extra hot water?
    Metal water pipe is required to be bonded to the grounding electrode. The lightening protection is required to be connected to the grounding electrode. All the braided connector does (assuming the water pipe is metal and attached as would be required) is to make a BETTER bonding jumper.
    So as far as I can see this would not be an incorrect installation. Of course things not in the photo can change everything.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  4. #4
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Lightning arrestor grounded to water line

    Annually in the USA lightning causes more than 26,000 fires with damage to property (NLSI estimates) in excess of $5-6 billion.

    The national lightning safety institute
    has good information on lighting, types of Franklyn rods, downconductors and other forms of lightning protection devices.
    http://lightningsafety.com/nlsi_lhm/lpts.html

    From Ben F. "It has pleased God in his goodness to mankind, at length to discover to them the means of securing their habitations and other buildings from mischief by thunder and lightning. The method is this: Provide a small iron rod (it may be made of the rod-iron used by the nailers) but of such a length, that one end being three or four feet in the moist ground, the other may be six or eight feet above the highest part of the building. To the upper end of the rod fasten about a foot of brass wire, the size of a common knitting-needle, sharpened to a fine point; the rod may be secured to the house by a few small staples. If the house or barn be long, there may be a rod and point at each end, and a middling wire along the ridge from one to the other. A house thus furnished will not be damaged by lightning, it being attracted by the points, and passing thro the metal into the ground without hurting any thing. Vessels also, having a sharp point rod fix'd on the top of their masts, with a wire from the foot of the rod reaching down, round one of the shrouds, to the water, will not be hurt by lightning."

    Post #3 Jim L.
    PEX updates at the stub in due to unknown factors can break the bonding.


    Last edited by ROBERT YOUNG; 01-12-2016 at 05:52 AM.
    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Lightning arrestor grounded to water line

    Once anyone sees what lightning does, can do, there is no way they would intentionally bring a lightning strike into a structure.

    The down/primary conductor is required to go directly to ground, this is done by connecting it to the grounding electrode system ... not by connecting it to something which may be (or is even known to be) bonded to the grounding electrode system.

    When lightning strikes, there is only one chance to get it to ground as quickly as possible, with as little damage as possible, and that chance is gone in the time it takes to blink your eyes

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Lightning arrestor grounded to water line

    Jerry, I concur.
    Section 250.52(A)(1) requires underground water piping to be used as the grounding (where present)
    Must be in direct contact with the earth for (3) meters (10) ten or more feet.

    The way I read it, the hose bib bonding is suspect at best and does not comply with Section 250.52 of the NEC.
    Soares book on Grounding and bonding. file:///C:/Users/ROBERT/Downloads/2014cepapersM29.pdf
    NFPA 70 http://lightning.org/wp-content/uplo...A-LPI-rev1.pdf
    Enjoy:-)

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
    Our Motto; Putting information where you need it most, "In your hands.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Lightning arrestor grounded to water line

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    The way I read it, the hose bib bonding is suspect at best and does not comply with Section 250.52 of the NEC.
    Agreed "suspect at best".

    Even if one were to follow the metal water pipe all the way, verifying all joints and contacts as being electrically continuous all the way to the point it is bonded to the grounding electrode system, it was never intended to handle a lightning strike - all it was ever intended to do was to bond an inadvertently energized metal water pipe to ground so that if the energized metal water pipe was touched, it would be effectively 'ground' and not energized to 'above ground' potential.

    A lightning strike, on the other hand, even an indirect lightning strike from nearby, puts a lot of energy through the conductor.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Lightning arrestor grounded to water line

    "A lightning strike, on the other hand, even an indirect lightning strike from nearby, puts a lot of energy through the conductor.}
    The shock wave is incredible as well.

    As to one of your previous posts; Has anyone ever seen lightning damage," it was one of the levers that sent me on the path to defect recognition.

    I estimated and later built a masonry chimney from the shoulder up. 22' feet of Ontario-sized sand brick. Vertical cracks throughout.
    Gable roof, the starting point of transmission, the sill plate but several vertical cracks had me perplexed. To be honest, I thought the flue metal cap or something in close proximity was a attraction catalyst for lightning.


    Life's a learning curve and understanding typical Canadian wood frame construction I embarked upon the demolition and erection.
    1: A bump out gable truss end was in the masonry chimney structure. 2: no 2" spacing between the roof deck and the chimney to allow expansion.

    I worked the neighbourhood all year and started the following year. Nice to know you have referred work in one area.
    The following year I looked at the chimney and saw cracks. One through the thick concrete crown. I have seen lightning strike chimne and told the owner.

    He decided to go through his insurance company for $800. Big mistake I told him.
    The insurer was a lying piece of work.
    He thought the whole affair was cooked up to extract $800 dollars.
    I caught him lying and home inspectors all partying up to this piece of work.
    Not one had a clew about masonry or lightning.
    I decided then and there it's time to sharpen my pencil and defeat these so called defect recognition specialists.
    That was 2005.

    After that, I learned real estate agents know more than home inspectors.
    I never knew! Hmm. Learn something new every day.




    Last edited by ROBERT YOUNG; 01-12-2016 at 11:05 AM.
    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
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  10. #10
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    eastpoint fl
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    Default Re: Lightning arrestor grounded to water line

    We had lightning strike a tall pine in our back yard. There was a plastic irrigation line passing over a tree root about five feet away. Not only did the tree split from top to bottom, the water in all the irrigation pipes flashed to steam and the pipes within about 200 feet exploded. The yard looked like it had been plowed, and we were picking bits of PVC up for months.

    PVC irrigation pipe is not copper house pipe. But, consider that the typical lighting bolt carries about 10,000 amps, with some being up to 200,000. I would not trust a copper pipe to carry that amount of current without some serious danger. It's certainly not designed for the purpose. Run the cable specifically designed for lightning directly to ground.

    - - - Updated - - -

    We had lightning strike a tall pine in our back yard. There was a plastic irrigation line passing over a tree root about five feet away. Not only did the tree split from top to bottom, the water in all the irrigation pipes flashed to steam and the pipes within about 200 feet exploded. The yard looked like it had been plowed, and we were picking bits of PVC up for months.

    PVC irrigation pipe is not copper house pipe. But, consider that the typical lighting bolt carries about 10,000 amps, with some being up to 200,000. I would not trust a copper pipe to carry that amount of current without some serious danger. It's certainly not designed for the purpose. Run the cable specifically designed for lightning directly to ground.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Lightning arrestor grounded to water line

    Quote Originally Posted by gary carroll View Post
    We had lightning strike a tall pine in our back yard. There was a plastic irrigation line passing over a tree root about five feet away. Not only did the tree split from top to bottom, the water in all the irrigation pipes flashed to steam and the pipes within about 200 feet exploded. The yard looked like it had been plowed, and we were picking bits of PVC up for months.

    PVC irrigation pipe is not copper house pipe. But, consider that the typical lighting bolt carries about 10,000 amps, with some being up to 200,000. I would not trust a copper pipe to carry that amount of current without some serious danger. It's certainly not designed for the purpose. Run the cable specifically designed for lightning directly to ground.
    Gary, thanks for sharing. Amazing forces at work.

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Lightning arrestor grounded to water line

    For a good chuckle, read Mark Twain's short piece at: Clemens] Mark Twain's short story: Political Economy


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