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Electrical Surge or Lightning?

05/12/2022
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Electrical Surge or Lightning?
By ANDREW LYNCH, P.E., CFEI, CVFI
When electrical damage occurs, determining the cause of the event is an important topic for insurance claims. Electrical damage can occur from lightning events, electrical surge from power utilities, water contact, fire events or other electrical malfunctions in the equipment.    
Power outages were widespread during the winter storm in 2021. A power outage can lead to an electrical surge event when power is restored to the home. A safe method to avoid electrical surge damage to equipment is to unplug electrical appliances and devices during a power outage. Turning off circuit breakers is an additional protection to avoid electrical surge damage when power is restored. Power surge suppressors are also a cost-effective addition to electrical distribution panels. Electrical surge can be easier to classify if lightning is not present in the area. 
Lightning is a naturally occurring event that can cause severe electrical damage to electrical equipment. Lightning events are well documented occurrences with data measured by the National Lightning Detection Network and other companies. Each network uses hundreds of sensors placed throughout the United States and adjacent countries to collect their data.
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