Why more homeowners aren't taking advantage of lightning rods

Fires sparked by lightning are not uncommon in Houston, but there is a way to prevent them by using lightning rods. KHOU's Michelle Choi takes a look at why more people don't use this 250-year-old technology.

KATY - Lightning-sparked fires are almost too common when storms roll through, but there is a well-known way to prevent them: lightning rods.

But why aren’t more people taking advantage of the 250-year-old technology? KHOU 11 News spoke with a local lightning rod contractor to find out why.

Call it the power of Mother Nature. Lightning can strike anywhere at anytime, and for those living in and near Houston, that chance goes up, by a lot.

"Lightning capital!” said Mike Weir, owner of Taylor Lightning Protection.

A 2012 Texas A&M University study found that Houston is the lightning capital of Texas. 

The city gets 20 strikes per square mile each year.

But despite taking on the title, many Houstonians aren’t protected with this discrete, yet powerful, device.

Mike Weir of Taylor Lightning Protection in Katy knows a thing or two about the dangers associated with lightning strikes.

He’s been installing lightning rods on homes and businesses for the last 31 years.

“A lot of people don’t know they exist,” Weir said.

That is until a bolt jolts their minds. 

“We get the call the day after somebody gets hit. It’s like you change the locks on your house the day after you get broke into, then it’s how fast can you put lightning protection on my house, because I never want to go through that again,” Weir said.

So why don’t more people have these devices?

“It has a lot to do with the owner and the budget,” Weir said.

Depending on how big your house is, installation costs on average $4,000 to $5,000.  And for those counting pennies, insurance companies don’t provide that much motivation, either.

“Texas insurance companies do not give a break to putting lightning protection on your house,” Weir said.

But for some homeowners, they just don’t know what the heck it is. 

“Really, I just don’t know enough about them to determine if it’s worth having or not having,” said Susan Fajkus, a homeowner.

“I really don’t know if it’s necessary or not, I just don’t know,” said Mark Harwell, another homeowner.

So, is it worth it?

“The day after your home is burnt on the ground, yes, I would say it’s worth it,” Weir said.

Weir says this layer of protection is 98 percent effective, making it the one time where you want to stay grounded.

Experts say lightning rods usually lasts a lifetime, and can take strike after strike, so it doesn’t require much maintenance once installed.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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