January 2012

Willis Sinclair Homes

The Lowcountry’s Premier Custom Home Builder”

24 Gabriel Road

Lodge, South Carolina 29082




843 846 2500


January 2012

Back Issues Are Available!

If you would like a back issue of any (or all) of our newsletters, call (843 846 2500) or email (bill@willissinclair.com) us. We will be happy to fulfill your request.




Tankless Water Heaters


How to Select a Builder




Building Standards


Intro to Willis Sinclair Homes




Project Rescue & Types of Contracts




Hurricane Preparation




Cost Effective Energy Savers


Home Warranties


Preparing Your Home for Your Absence


Tie Down Hardware


Engineered Materials


Computer Graphics/ Paintshop


Interior Doors




Attic & Crawl Spaces


Porches & Decks






Rot & How to Prevent It




Lightning (this issue)


From the desk

of Willis Ponds …

The past few months have been busy for us professionally and personally.

I would like to introduce our newest addition: Kandice Abigail Ponds. She was born November 4, 2011.

Kandie missed her Grampa Bill’s birthday by just 5 days. She was named after her Gramma (Kandy, Bill’s wife and Debby’s mama) and, of course, Abbey.

Kandie is our fifth child and Bill and Kandy’s 26th grandchild.

She is now three months old and doing very well. She can follow you with her eyes and give you big smiles.

This month we are discussing one of the most powerful forces in nature. There are several powerful natural forces we face here in the Lowcountry: hurricanes, earthquakes, no-see-ums (just kidding) and lightning.

Earthquakes are rare. Hurricanes have a lot of warning. Lightning, on the other hand just happens. There are several things you can to to protect yourself and possessions, however. Be sure to read the other side of this newsletter to see some tips.


President, Willis Sinclair, Inc.

Licensed Residential Contractor


843 846 2500



Although we are not fulminologists (someone who studies lightning), we have figured out a few interesting things we would like to share.

Homeowners insurance pays over a billion dollars ($1,000,000,000) out in lightning claims per year. That is more than is typically paid for hurricanes, earthquakes or fires.

Frequency of Lightning Strikes

Red: 20 to 40 strikes/ square mile per year

Tan: 10 to 20 strikes / square mile per year

SC averages 640,000 lightning strikes per year. This averages over 20 strikes per square mile. The activity is more intense toward the coast, so the average here in the Lowcountry is probably more like 30 strikes per square mile. Brays will have, on average, about 150 lightning strikes per year. Cloud-to-ground (as opposed to cloud-to-cloud) lightning can be either negative or positive polarity. Positive polarity is about ten times as severe as negative polarity.

The average positive polarity lightning strike has a current of about 300,000 amps. To put that in perspective, a toaster uses about 10 amps. High electrical currents cause intense heating. The voltage can be over 100,000,000 volts. Most of your home appliances are 120 volts for comparison.

The air in the vicinity of the strike is heated to about 36,000 degrees – about three times the temperature of the Sun’s surface.

If the current from a lightning strike flows through a house, it will often cause enough heat that the building will burst into flames.

One of the reasons lightning rods help is the very high currents flow down large copper wires to ground. This minimizes any heating of the house framing members. Lightning rods don’t “attract” lightning. Actually, they tend to discharge the atmosphere above your home so they reduce the chance of a strike.

If your home is not hit with lightning, are you safe? No, not really. Another very serious problem lightning causes is surges on power and phone lines.

If lightning hits a power line or phone directly, nothing can be done to contain the damage. .

Ampere’s Law says if a magnetic field changes in a loop of wire, a voltage will be induced in the wire. Lightning strikes have very large magnetic fields and if they strike near a wire (power, phone or cable), very large surges will be induced in the wires.

Surge protectors that plug into power lines will protect your sensitive equipment from moderate surges, but a big surge will destroy the strip (and theoretically save your equipment).

Some surge strips have a place to plug in phone lines and even computer network lines.

With wireless networks, the need to protect computer network wires has diminished. Wireless phones also keep those phones which are not directly connected to the incoming lines safe.

Items which are particularly vulnerable are devices which connect directly to both power lines and phone or cable lines. That is because if there is a large surge on one set of wires but not the other, your device is in the middle.

The Bottom Line

What can you do to protect yourself?

  • Get inside and stay inside. Only 2% of people killed by lightning were inside a building. Obviously, you should stay away from anything that conducts electricity: water and wires (appliances, land line phones, plug in power tools, etc.) in particular.

  • If you are caught outside, stay away from power lines or trees.

How can you protect your possessions?

  • Keep all of your sensitive (electronic) equipment on surge strips.

  • Use surge strips with high energy (Joule) ratings. The higher, the better.

  • Be sure to route incoming phone lines through surge suppression strips.

  • Have surge suppression devices installed in your breaker boxes.

  • Consider having lightning protection installed on your home and/or trees. You may qualify for discounted homeowners’ insurance.

  • Unplug equipment when you are away for extended periods of time. (We will be glad to do this for you when we do our house checks if you wish.)

If you have questions, call us. We can help.

Introducing ….

Kandice Abigail Ponds

Kandie was born five days early. She was born on November 4. Grampa Bill was born on November 9, a few years earlier. Kandie is Willis & Debby’s fifth child. They now have three boys and two girls.

Willis Sinclair Homes, where ‘Built Right’ is the only ‘good enough’ we understand.

Call Us

843 846 2500



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