So ok, this could potentially be short article. If you’ve read our Guide to Grounding you have some idea of the stuff you’ll need in order to properly ground your system, and you have some idea of how important grounding is. Without proper grounding, you risk losing everything you own if you put something metal up on the roof. Yes folks, it’s that important.
And yet, our guide doesn’t tell you definitively what you’ll need, just gives you some general parts and guidelines. That’s because grounding ordinances are set by your city, county and state. A place like Southern California has different rules than, for example, southern Illinois, because California’s largely dry and the fear is more from sparks than lightning. Illinois, on the other hand, can get some spectacular storms and that means a lot more chances that your dish or antenna will be a conduit for a gigantic power surge that could fry your equipment and set fire to your home.
There’s only one place to get the right information.
When you’re ready to do that grounding project, head on down to the city planner’s office or at least the information desk at city hall. Some cities publish their ordinances online, but unless you’re completely sure that you’re getting the latest information, it’s best to actually get up and drive downtown. Yeah, I’m talking about going and asking a person, I know that sounds archaic.
If you haven’t checked the state of your equipment in a while, it’s not a bad idea to get a copy of the latest ordinances and check every part of your system. Grounding straps can corrode and snap, screws can get loose, anything can happen. Taking a good look every year or so is a small price to pay to know that you’re safe from a fire, right?
Do you need a licensed contractor for grounding?
You absolutely do not and grounding is really something you can do by yourself. Once you have the right information and the right parts, it’s very hard to mess up. But, it’s not impossible. After all, this is something very important. You’ll probably feel very comfortable with doing it but if you don’t, don’t hesitate to hire an electrician to do the work for you. Choose someone with a license because the whole point of hiring someone is that hopefully they know better than you do.
Will grounding save your home in case of a lightning strike?
This is the toughest question to answer. Suppose lightning does strike your home. There is no guarantee that a tiny little bit of wire is going to save your home. But, that’s not really the point. Most people think the point of grounding is to let lightning strike your home and then everything is fine. Proper grounding can protect your home to some degree but that’s not the point.
A bolt of lightning is a large static discharge that’s made possible when electricity building up in the air is able to overcome air’s resistance and travel toward the ground. Proper grounding allows for much smaller static discharges to be dissipated on a more or less constant basis. This hopefully keeps bolts of lightning from even forming. You’ve provided an easy path for static discharge to travel down to earth and so it doesn’t keep building up.
In a worst case scenario, a bolt of lightning would probably fry your antenna. It would also do a number on your your home’s electrical system. But, with a reasonable path for all that electricity to travel, hopefully the damage would be kept to a minimum. That’s what you’re hoping for, and that’s what proper grounding can do for you.