Have you ever heard your mother tell you to stay away from the sink or bathtub during a lightning storm? Although you might have felt relieved to have been away from your chore that afternoon, did you realize she was looking out for your safety? The reason you were asked to delay the dishes or your bath was because it is possible for the electricity from a lightning strike to travel through the pipes (and water in those pipes!) in your home.
Another important piece of information tells us that if we can hear the thunder from a passing storm, we are within striking range of the lightning that precedes it. This is because lightning can strike up to about 10 miles away from a thunderstorm. These facts change the flash-to-bang rule we most often use to listen to the thunder to tell how far the storm is, however, it does not apply to the range of which lightning can strike outside of that storm once thunder is heard.
As the storm approaches you want to find shelter indoors and stay away from anything primarily metal, concrete, or wiring. Plumbing is also a big contributor to conducting lightning into the home. Good examples are dishwashers or washing machines that are plugged into a wall. Another thing to consider is that although your home may have been built with plastic piping instead of metal, the conductivity of the water passing through those pipes is still dangerous. Water is enough of a conduit of electricity that if you are near a source of water, the electricity can still reach you.
Some exceptions can be made for homes that are built on a piered foundation (basically rods stuck down into the ground) that things are a little safer since the house itself is grounded. If the home was not built in such a way, or the foundation is not similar in structure to that, the electricity can travel at will through the home until it finds an appliance or the like to become grounded from. If you are elbows up to sudsy water or enjoying a shower during a lightning storm, this could be you!
In summary, the plumbing in your home could, in more rare circumstances, act as a means for the electricity to travel from the outside in. If you’re in contact with the water, plumbing, or wiring at that time, it could pass right through to you! You are better off to wrap yourself in a warm blanket on the couch with a good book or enjoy a board game with your family during a lightning storm for the utmost safety.
When the storm clears and you are ready to safely get your plumbing in order, give Jack Ward & Sons Plumbing Co. a call at (615) 227-2811. We will evaluate the plumbing in your home to help determine the best course of action for repair.