All lightning protection systems require regular maintenance, testing and inspections to ensure they remain effective, and thus ensuring maximum protection for buildings and their occupants. The annual testing and inspections are crucial to safeguard the structure, its contents and the lives of everyone who uses the building.
Regular tests and maintenance (and repairs when necessary) will prolong the life of the lightning protection system and ensure it performs at optimum efficiency and safety levels. Carrying out the inspections and tests annually is recommended by British Standard BS EN 62305.
The regular maintenance of a lightning protection system can also be one of the requirements of building insurance policies, and the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 dictates that all systems must be maintained to prevent danger.
The effectiveness of a protection system may become compromised over time as a result of general conditions such as physical damage, adverse weather conditions, corrosion, or because of additions or alterations to the building. Periodic tests and inspections will highlight any maintenance procedures (if any) that are required.
Particular attention should be paid to the earthing. Fluctuations in earth electrode resistance can occur over time and this can be affected by changing weather conditions. As a result, it's an industry recommendation that a test and inspection are carried out at 11-month intervals - this enables the tester to cover all seasons over the course of the year.
If the system has been subject to corrosive conditions and there is evidence of damage to the components, this must be dealt with immediately, as it will make the protection less effective.
In addition, if there have been any alterations or additions to the structure, this may also affect the lightning protection system. These can include the installation of crane tracks, changes in the use of building, or erecting TV or radio aerials.