Your home is one of your largest investments, so protecting it from natural disasters is a top priority. Now that hurricane season has begun, what can you do to protect your home from possible storm damage?
Making a few simple changes now could minimize a storm’s impact on your home.
During a storm, dead tree limbs can get loose and cause damage to a home’s exterior or even puncture a window. Trim back any branches that are touching your home, especially if the limbs are touching your house. Keep trees well pruned to allow the wind to pass through with minimal damage. Broken limbs could land on your house or become missiles that can break windows during a storm.
Help prevent damage inside your house by having downspouts drain away from your home and clear your gutters of any debris. Blocked gutters during heavy rains can cause rain to spill over and cause water to pool near the foundation.
While you are outside, make sure you put away any items that can cause damage by the wind. Heavy winds can cause items like patio furniture and large toys to damage the exterior of your home. Put away your grill, kids’ toys, lawn furniture, flags, wind chimes or sculptures. If you have a shed, make sure its doors are closed tightly. You may also want to protect your outdoor air conditioning unit against airborne debris and projectiles by covering it.
Wind is a major threat to your roof, windows, doors and garage doors.
Garage - Most garage doors are not reinforced, and when the wind gets into the garage, it creates a positive push at the same time that the wind swirling above the structure creates a negative pull. That push-pull combination can cause the roof to fly off. You can strengthen your existing garage door by installing a vertical garage door brace and reinforcing it with horizontal wooden beams.
Windows - Storm shutters provide the best protection. Plywood is an affordable solution to protect windows without shutters. Don’t bother taping your windows, putting masking tape on the windows literally does nothing.
Roof – Examining your roof is a good place to start. The roof is the largest potential opening on the house. Consider hurricane straps to ensure your roof is bolted to the rest of your house. You should also inspect your roof tiles or shingles to make sure they are secure, are not cracked or missing. Use roofing cement to fix any loose tiles to prevent them from becoming loose during a storm and damaging the underlying roofing material. Seal any areas where wires enter the home, minimizing the chance of water damage during heavy wind and rain.
Take inventory. The last thing you want to be doing after you’ve been affected by a hurricane is to try to remember everything you had in the house. The best way to document your items is to take a video or pictures that you can provide to your insurance company. It is also important to make sure documents, such as an insurance policy or mortgage papers, are stored in a safe deposit or fire safe box.