Not all lightning protection components and parts are created equal. Inexperienced installers will often go to local electrical supply houses to purchase items like grounding wire, ground rods, or clamps that are not UL listed. Sometimes these parts are adequate for electrical grounding and bonding but are not able to handle the current of a lightning strike. Always use UL listed parts when possible and trust a lightning protection expert to handle your installation.
A common problem our team sees is disconnected thief hatches. Thief hatches are often changed out or replaced over time, and when the new thief hatch is installed whoever is doing the job may not know how to properly reinstall the lightning protection attached to the hatch. Even worse than that, sometimes there is no attempt to re-install the strap at all. Without regular inspections, the operator would carry on work under the assumption that they are protected.
Ground Rod placement is crucial for lightning protection. For every 250 ft of perimeter, there should be a minimum of two ground rods driven 10 ft deep and positioned at opposite ends of the structure. With complicated structures of various shapes and sizes, it’s common to need multiple down conductors and ground rods in addition to the 2 original ground rods. Getting the ground rod placement correct is imperative to protecting your site. Also, if you see a ground rod sticking up from the ground, chances are the site is not meeting the minimum requirements for lightning protection grounding.
Bonding is the connection of electrically isolated metal bodies, such as a thief hatch, base flange, bull plug, or piping. As an area’s ion charge potential rises and falls, bonding metal components together ensures the rates of rise and fall are equal. When metal surfaces end up with a difference in ion charge, a spark (electrical discharge) is often the result and can cause a fire or explosion. When repairs or additions are made to existing sites, workers will often leave the bonding wires disconnected or connected incorrectly/loosely. Regular inspections can catch these mistakes and repairs can be made to make sure your sites are protected.