I was exceptionally interested when I got a call from a former client telling me that lightning, and the gas piping system, caused a house fire.
Just under a couple of years ago I did an inspection for this couple's elderly mother's retirement condo. During the inspection I had noticed that the building was plumbed with a particular gas line made of CSST (corrugated stainless steel tubing) - and the brand was TracPipe. That CSST is involved with a court case, and I alerted them.
My insurance company had suggested that I put particular wording in my reports whenever CSST is used, and other additional wording if the brand is TracPipe. The suggested wording has to do with grounding and bonding, and includes information about the tubing. I also say that there is between 1 billion and 1.5 billion linear feet of this stuff nationwide, so while the potential for a problem exists, it is minimal.
I told them that there was an excellent blog they could read written by Reuben Salzman. They called later and asked if I could get them information to contact Reuben, and they did. And when they got home from our inspection, they discovered they had it on their single family home!
There was no contact since, until the other day! Their house had been struck by lightning!
It struck the gas line, cracked the foundation in four places, and followed the gas tubing throughout the house.
It also jumped to some electrical and exited the house through a lower, rear light. Neighbors said that the rear of the house looked like fireworks were coming out of it!
ALL OF THIS HAPPENED IN A GAZILLIONTH OF A SECOND.
To make a long story short, a smoldering fire started that was blocked by the kitchen floor ceramic tile.
All the appliances in the house were zapped beyond repair.
Both gas furnaces were zapped as well.
The basement had to be gutted, with some structural members replaced.
All of the CSST had been replaced with black iron gas tubing.
The couple called me to come do a pre-drywall inspection, checking the contractor's work before it got sealed in.
Here is one thing I found - many feet of the foundation sill plates had not been strapped after replacement.
You can also see in this photo that the totally-gutted basement had been sprayed completely with KILZ. It seals back the scorch marks and eliminates the burned odor. All of that was substantial.
The kitchen also had to be gutted.
Some of the structure and the sub floor had to be replaced. The ceramic tile, carpeting and hardwood flooring all over the house was also removed.
Their insurance company said that this kind of lightning damage has been happening more and more!
It has happened so much they already had protocols in place.
The couple was put up immediately in a hotel, and then into a short-term rental home.
And this work has been going on for a few months now. The work was substantial. It will be a few more weeks before they are back in the house.
So this is a problem that began with corrugated stainless steel gas tubing!
My recommendation: be sure that when you see such gas tubing on a home inspection, that your inspector gives you a complete head's up. Yes, the likelihood that your house will be struck by lightning IS minimal. But the potential exists! When you do see it, it is circumspect to have it checked out by a professional. A couple of weeks ago I found CSST and alerted the buyer, and his Realtor Brian Block. And a few days ago I got a phone call from them, and their electrician, asking questions as they were having it examined and getting an estimate written for suggested repairs.
Like I said, circumspect.