The Rim country's most recent winter storm brought some lightning and thunder along for the visit. While the light show was a mild one compared to what we see in the summer monsoons, it serves as a reminder of how vulnerable our property is to the damage of power surges.
To help protect homes and businesses against power surges, Kevin W. Morris and his wife, Linda, operate Classic Lightning Protection, Inc. Morris is one of only three professionals licensed in the state to provide this service.
"I like to protect people and their possessions -- their house, their biggest investment," Morris said.
Protecting his own investment is what drew Morris into the business.
"I built my first house in Payson in 1998 and wanted to protect myself from lightning damage, so I looked up one of the three people in the state licensed to do the work," Morris said. "He had been in the business for 30 years and was getting ready to retire. He offered to sell me the materials and train me to install them for my house."
When Morris' house was done, the retiring contractor suggested he go into the business of lightning and surge protection. He gave Morris his leads and trained him.
Morris earned his commercial and residential license from the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) in Missouri.
Most recently, he earned certification as a master installer. This certification makes it possible for Morris to install lightning and surge protection in any commercial structure in the country.
"I have done everything from a 900-square-foot doublewide mobile home to a 23,000-square-foot log home," he said.
His commercial projects have included a medical building and a Scottsdale church.
Morris explained that the protection starts with a whole house surge shield package. Single surge arresters are placed on the house's electrical panel, where the phone lines come into the structure, and on the cable or satellite entry points, protecting all the wiring in the house. This starts at $229.
"There are literally hundreds of structures (in the area) done by a fly-by-night installer with aluminum materials and faulty grounding and done incorrectly," Morris said.
One of the tests he will do, to make sure standards are met, is "ground resistance testing," which determine the electrical conductivity of the earth in a given location. The surge arresters are only part of complete protection against the damage of lightning and the continual surges of electricity coming into a home or business.
The other part: lightning rods, which are no more intrusive to a roof line than a satellite dish. The rods are only 12 inches tall, made of solid copper and only 3/8-inch in diameter. They are known as Franklin rods for the inventor, Benjamin Franklin, who created them in 1752, Morris said.
The rods screw into a roof saddle, and are placed no more than 20 feet apart on the ridges and chimney of a home, and connected with a special conductor cable. Then the system is connected to at least two separate grounding locations.
Morris works with numerous contractors in the Rim country.
"Most people think their over-the-counter plug-in surge protectors will give sufficient protection, but the large appliances are not protected," he said.
With the surge arrester system, appliances are given a 30-percent longer life.
He said he wants to educate the public about the importance of lightning strike and surge protection.
"It is a challenge to get people to think about it before it's too late, before the monsoon season," Morris said.
To learn more, contact Classic Lightning Protection, Inc. at (928) 474-1727 or visit the website at www.classiclightningprotection.com