Month: October 2016

Non-Conventional Air Terminals: Too Good to be True

Air terminals, also known as strike termination devices (STDs (yes, really)) and formerly known as lightning rods, have some new, non-conventional air terminals coming out that claim to either attract lightning to a certain point or avert a lightning strike in a protected area. The goal of these new products is to reduce the amount of money spent on time and material. Another advertised plus is that these new air terminals increase aesthetics because there are fewer metal objects randomly sticking off buildings.

┬áNon-Conventional Air Terminals Don’t Work as Advertised.

An air terminal is a device that terminates the lightning strike, hence the term ‘strike termination device.’ From the air terminal, the lightning travels through aluminum or copper cable that carries the charge to the downrod and into the ground, averting dangerous charges from the structure being protected. An air terminal neither attracts nor averts electrical charge from the lightning strike.

These non-conventional air terminals have been tested time and time again, and, according to Electrical Business Magazine and the Lightning Protection Institute, “Unfortunately, the considered opinion of almost all independent scientists and public safety authorities is…using non-standard products do not provide the advantages claimed.” Non-conventional air terminals have been tested at the University of Florida and the data do not support the claims of the manufacturers making them.

Current theories state that there is no way to truly attract or avert a lightning strike. The only way to protect a structure is to protect the areas specified in the UL96a, NFPA 780, and LPI 175 with a conventional air terminal.

Don’t let someone try and put a non-conventional air terminal on your home. If you prefer something more aesthetically pleasing than a traditional air terminal, ask to see a catalog of decorative air terminals that fit within the code.

CSST Precautions

Last month, the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) and the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) joined forces to spread awareness about the dangers of lightning causing house fires. One of the most common ways lightning causes house fires is through corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST). According to CSSTSafety.com, Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing is a flexible stainless steel pipe used to get gas through your house to a gas log system in a fireplace or gas appliances. CSST came out in the 1990’s and has been used on several homes since then because it has fewer potential places to leak and it is also easier to use for the installer. As of 2012, 7 million homes in the United States had Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing installed.

What Does CSST Have to do With Me?

Good question. Unfortunately, the walls in CSST are thin and susceptible to lightning damage. The high charge can perforate the walls and cause leaks, which, combined with an electric charge, can cause quite a fire. If your home has Corrugates Stainless Steel Tubing installed, your house is at risk for a lightning surge to cause a house fire. Because of this, the LPI and NASFM have joined together to raise awareness and to increase product standards.

“Hazardous outcomes with CSST have already prompted a class action settlement, law suits, a NFPA review, and public awareness campaign,” according to LPI Executive Director Bud VanSickle.

What Can We Do?

The best way for a lightning protection installer to protect your house is to bond your lightning protection system to the Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing that is already installed in your house. While it doesn’t guarantee that the surge won’t make it into your home, it will greatly reduce the chances of the surge getting in.

You can also support the LPI and the NASFM in their efforts to raise the ANSI LC1 product standard to make CSST less susceptible to lightning.

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