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Lightning Protection Testing

Lightning Protection Testing

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What is Lightning Protection Testing?
It is a detailed inspection which covers the following:

  • the mechanical condition of all conductors, bonds, joints and earth electrodes
  • if a part is unable to be inspected, this needs to be logged
  • the bonding of any additional installations/services need to be checked
  • gathering information for inclusion in a maintenance log

Why is a Lightning Protection Test necessary?
Unless a proper lightning test and maintenance programme is in place, the only way of knowing if the lightning protection is sufficient – is if there is a lightning strike! By that time, a failure could be catastrophic both in terms of damage to property – and potentially lost lives!

The current in a lightning strike can range between 2,000 – 200,000A and so it is vital to have a robust system in place. Approximately 300,000 lightning strikes hit the ground in Britain each year with 30 percent of reported lightning strikes causing severe damage.

Who can conduct a lightning protection system test and inspection?
BS6651 standards states a “competent person” should carry out inspections. BS6651 covers all aspects of Lightning Protection but sections 31-34 are of particular relevance for testing and maintenance.

When should a lightning protection test be done?
Inspections should be carried out not only during the installation process but also upon completion and regularly afterwards. Inspections should be repeated at fixed intervals preferably not exceeding a year. It may be wise to consider a 11 month rolling schedule so the system will have been adequately checked.

What records need to be kept as part of the lightning protection tests?
Records are required on site or in a suitable accessible place. BS6651 states that the following records should be kept:

  • drawings of the lightning protection system
  • details of the geology (nature of the soil and details of any special earthing arrangements)
  • type and position of the earth electrodes
  • test conditions and results obtained
  • details of any alterations to the system, including additions and repairs
  • the name of the person responsible for the system.

To comply with the Construction Design and Management Regulations, these records should be provided at the completion of the original installation.

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