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Charlie Glahe WIN Broomfield

Inspecting a home for signs of lightning damage

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Thunderstorms are frequently associated with warm summer days and evenings. But as many people have likely realized at one point or another, these storms can materialize during any time of the year, including the dead of winter and, more commonly, spring, when the temperatures work their way higher.

And similar to other storms, they can produce damage, the likes of which can vary depending on the severity of a lightning strike and what portion of a house that's hit. And every once in a while, a thunderstorm may take place that may not be immediately apparent where it struck

Fortunately, there are a variety of ways in which homeowners can perform their very own home inspection in order to determine where lightning hit.

According to professor and electrical engineer Dr. Ronald B. Standler, if lightning does hit a residence, the most likely location will be somewhere on top of the roof. The damage would not exhibit any particularly distinguishable feature, but the signs of it would be akin to those that result from other natural catastrophes. And because lightning produces a significant amount of heat, the damage could leave dark imprints along the roof or the side of a home.

For instance, some lightning strikes are strong enough to put a gaping hole into a residence, leaving signs of smoke outlining that hole. Examples of this can be found by performing an image search on Google.

Electrical components are at risk during thunderstorm
But aside from the physical damage done to a property, the interior of a home can be affected as well, mainly among electrical equipment and components. To see if anything has happened to the electrical system, Standler recommends checking the breakers to ensure they function properly by going directly to the circuit board, which is usually in the basement of the house. Manipulating the switches can help homeowner figure out whether their entire electrical system has been fried or if it's confined to only a few areas.

Working with electricity can be deadly for those who are unfamiliar with it, so homeowners should be sure to enlist the assistance of an electrician to fix what's been damaged.

Other potential places in which lightning may have caused damage is the home's plumbing system. Standler advises checking the pipes for leaks by performing a pressure test and to do a visual check for leaks by inspecting all appliances that need plumbing to function.

According to the National Weather Service, there were nearly 940 tornadoes in 2012, virtually all of which produced thunderstorms. Severe thunderstorms resulted in insured losses totaling nearly $15 billion last year, Munich Re reports.