Metal Roofs And Lightning: Myths And The Truth Behind Them

Recently in Calgary, Canada, four workers were hit by lightning while working on a metal roof. Although the media coverage did not say that the metal roof was to blame, there was an implication of blame in the report. As a result, if you have encountered this story, you may be wondering whether or not metal roofs pose a lightning risk. The answer is no.

Here's a look at some common myths of metal roofs and lightening and the truth behind them.

Myth: Metal roofs are less safe in lightning storms than shingle roofs.

Truth: Metal roofs are not more likely to to be hit by lightning than any other material. In fact, metal roofs are known to be safer in a lightning storm than shingle roofs. This is simply because metal is not combustible. As a result, your metal roof is not going to start on fire if lightning hits it. However, a shingle roof may quickly start burning.

Myth: The conductive nature of metal roofing makes it more dangerous than shingles.

Truth: Metal is a conductor, but that does not necessarily make it more dangerous than shingles in a storm. Rather, because it's a conductor, the metal allows the electricity from the lightning to spread along the entire roof. That dissipates the force of the hit. In contrast, if you have a shingle roof, the lightning's electricity will be concentrated in a single spot, boring into that spot and potentially spreading into the attic below.

Myth: Working on a metal roof in rubber shoes is safe.

Truth: Common sense should always prevail, and if you are working on a roof, stop and get down immediately in inclement conditions. Although rubber shoes may act as an insulator with a small bolt of electricity, they simply aren't going to work with lightning. Keep in mind air is also an insulator, and the lightning bolt has travelled through miles and miles of air to reach you. The electricity is not going to stop for a small patch of rubber.

Myth: It's safer to build your home on a low point.

Truth: Lightning is attracted to high points, but this is only true in the cases of skyscrapers and other really high structures. For objects that are relatively close to ground such as metal poles, houses, sun umbrellas and the like, the lightning is no more likely to hit one of those objects or the ground next to them. With that in mind, don't let fear of lightning force you to pick a low spot on your lot. Instead, choose a higher spot for the views and the drainage -- even with a metal roof it's totally safe.  

Contact a roofing company like BCI Metal Roofing for more info.