Lightning protection components such as strike termination devices (rods) and conductors can be impacted when a building is damaged by extreme weather events and re-roofing is required.
Coordination Ensures Proper Maintenance for Both
Weather events like hurricanes, high winds, ice and snow, and extreme temperatures can degrade a structure’s roof system, and in turn affect the continuity of your home or business’s lightning protection system. Building upgrades (roof construction, remodeling, changes to the mechanical or communication system, etc) can also alter or interrupt the lightning protection system. These are just some of the reasons why it’s important that residential or commercial building repairs, re-roofing or maintenance work include an annual inspection of the lightning protection system to ensure quality control.
Unfortunately, the integration and maintenance of lightning protection systems in conjunction with roof systems has not received adequate attention from the roofing and construction industries. A lack of coordination between roof system and lightning protection system specifications and their associated trades can result in a variety of maintenance issues and roofing problems. There is a consensus in the roofing industry that standard details pertaining to the integration of a lightning protection system into a roof system need to be developed by the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA) and the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), but these entities have no specialized knowledge in the compliance requirements for complete systems. In the interim, the lightning protection safety standards of NFPA 780, UL 96A and LPI 175 should be used as a point of reference.
Maintenance and inspection of existing lightning protection systems to continue the designed safety for the structure is an ongoing process. NFPA 780, Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems, 2017 Edition, advocates a visual inspection to make sure exposed components are still in good working order every year, and a comprehensive testing inspection every three years for any system. Specialized systems for homes in extreme-weather prone regions may need even shorter inspection cycles. An inspection service like the Lightning Protection Institute Inspection Program (LPI-IP) will not only identify elements of the lightning protection system that may need to be corrected, but will address changes to the structure that require an extension of the system for proper protection.
Structural additions and remodels may call for extension of the existing system, but less apparent are internal system changes that may extend to the exterior of the building. The addition of roof mounted vents and mechanical units from process changes or placing an antenna for communication networks or cameras for security upgrades can change the risk of damage significantly. Review by a professional installer or inspector of lightning protection systems can catch these details so that the system can be extended or repaired to incorporate these changes for continued safe performance.
Various elements of the reproofing process require the supervision of a qualified lightning protection contractor. A decision must be made on the removal and care of existing system components for possible reinstallation. The process of removal and reinstallation on phased projects needs coordination to maximize time under protection. Structurally mounted hardware needs to be properly anchored according to the Standards. Bonding reinstallation must fulfill the system needs for roof-level potential equalization. Runs of cable conductor must provide the most direct low-impedance path to building downleads and structural steel. The total package must return the building to the protected zone of the lightning protection system for the expected safety level of occupants and contents.
LPI provides certification testing for individuals to show their competency in this specialized trade according to the lightning protection Standards. LPI qualifies contractors through examination for system design, inspection and installation–so look to LPI as a key resource for maintenance of your lightning protection system to ensure performance to last the life of the structure.