Against The Wind: Storm Proofing Your Home
We’ve all heard the suspenseful tales of mystery and adventure that begin “on a dark and stormy night.” However, while stormy winds may be romantic in stories, they become a major danger when they occur in real time in your neighborhood. Such a tempest can be wildly destructive to property, and financially devastating to homeowners. Wind damage is expensive, with an average cost of about $9,000 to repair a home’s wind-damaged roof, windows or siding.
Wind can arrive in many forms: hurricanes, tornadoes, cyclones, microbursts or downdrafts. There are sudden gusts that arrive out of nowhere and last for only a few minutes, and then there are vicious sustained winds that may last for days. Your home should be the ultimate refuge, but no force is stronger than Mother Nature. As anyone who’s lived through a hurricane knows, when the wind really becomes furious, you had better be prepared.
Luckily, there are several simple and economical steps you can take to protect your home and your family from what the Hawaiians call makani huhu, or “angry winds.” Read on to learn what practical measures you can take to mitigate against the risk of wind damage to your home.
Identify Your Home’s Vulnerabilities
Whether you’re battening down the hatches to prepare for a major storm, or you’re just being proactive against the elements, the first step to protect your home from wind damage is a visual assessment of your house, both from the outside and the inside. Look for the areas that are most susceptible to wind damage. Generally, this includes your roof (especially your shingles), gutters, doors, windows, and siding.
You’ll also need to pay particular attention to anything the wind could pick up and turn into a projectile. This includes patio furniture, sun shades, grills, untied toys and other objects. Either bring these potential trajectiles inside or secure them with strong cables, ropes or chains. Don’t use bungee cords to secure items against strong wind – it won’t work (trust me, I know).
Make a list of your home’s wind storm vulnerabilities, and then begin to systematically address each weak spot. Hire a handyman to repair the locks and hinges for your doors and windows. Always ensure they are strong enough and in good enough condition to offer maximum protection. Before long, you will transform your home’s susceptibilities into strongholds against the elements.
Reinforce Doors and Windows By Installing Storm Shutters
The next step to wind proofing your home is to fortify doors and windows. Install storm shutters for windows, French doors, and sliding glass doors to prevent projectiles from shattering them. If you live along the coast, hurricane shutters offer fantastic long-term protection. Hurricane shutters will run you about $3,800 on average, which pales in comparison to the cost of really severe wind storm damage.
The other main types of storm shutters are: exterior rolling shutters, accordion shutters, Bahama shutters, and shaker shutters. Each variation of shutter features its own pros and cons, so it’s best to take some time to research each type before deciding which will work best with your particular home and environment. The cost of storm shutters generally averages between $50 and $60 per square foot of window, depending on the type.
Beef Up Your Garage Door
The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes estimates that 80% of damages in homes from hurricanes and winds enter via the garage doors. When the garage door fails, high winds invade your house like a conquering army, ripping open the internal doors, blowing off your roof, and destroying the entire property.
Your garage door is your first and most critical line of defense against high winds. Your home will not shelter you from the storm if the garage door is compromised. When your garage door fails, anything can come in. Don’t wait for this catastrophe to occur before you act; hire a garage door professional to help you find and install the strongest possible garage door to minimize the risks and provide maximum protection.
As well, because a ripped off garage door can cause significant structural damage to the entire home if it gets blown off in a storm, consult your garage door professionals to help you identify any potential structural issues with your door, and take steps to resolve them. Remember: garage integrity is your #1 ally against destructive winds.
Secure Your Roof’s Shingles
Your roof is another absolutely critical aspect of wind-proofing your home. Whether you’re preparing for a major storm or simply protecting against unexpected winds, pay particular attention to your roof’s shingles.
High quality, well-fortified shingles are your roof’s first line of defense against storms. However, when shingles lose their integrity and become loose, they turn from an ally to an enemy. Not only do they become dangerous projectiles in heavy winds, ripped off shingles also leave your roof unprotected and vulnerable to rain and hail damage. Roof exposure to storms can translate to a significant expense: the average cost to repair a wind-damaged roof is around $700.
Thus, to protect yourself (and your wallet), you’ll need to thoroughly secure any loose shingles. Nail them down! Use at least six nails or staples per shingle to ensure they hold their own, even in the most punishing winds. To get the most secure fit, you’ll also want to place your nails and staples at the edges of the shingle, where your shingles meet and overlap.
When reinforcing and securing your roof’s shingles, you also may want to consider installing a waterproof roof underlay if you don’t already have one (read below for more on this).
Waterproof The Exterior of Your Home
It is natural for homeowners to focus primarily on protecting their property from high winds during a storm, but protecting against storm-related water vapor and moisture damage is equally essential.
Water or moisture penetrating your home is an expensive problem to fix, and results in all kinds of problems, including mold growth (which is damaging to your health as well as your home), warping of floors and walls and generally weakening the integrity of your home. This is why it is critical to ensure your home, and particularly your basement, is protected by a water barrier.
Waterproof the exterior of a home by applying a sealant to the foundation walls. Be sure to pay special attention to any areas that seem susceptible to leakage or seepage.
Protect your roof by installing a water barrier on the roof deck just under the out cover. This barrier works as a second shield against leaks in case your roof fails. Stain or paint can also come in handy here to protect your home from leaks or moisture damage through the roof.
Make sure you double check your home’s entire exterior for vulnerable spots, to prevent water or hail from penetrating. Remember, even a little moisture can cause a lot of damage. Don’t take water and vapor protection for granted. You can install a temporary water barrier yourself, or you can contract an experienced professional for better and more durable protection.
Secure Metal Siding and Roofing
Damaging winds aren’t just hazardous for your shingles. They can also tear away entire roofing and siding panels, making it easier for wind to enter the home. Be sure to secure metal roofing and siding to the frame of your home with exposed fasteners, such as screws, bolts, or concealed clips.
Generally, you’ll get a more secure hold if you position fasteners close together at the edges of the panels. Take care to cover all siding edges (such as those along the corner of the home), with a metal cap or molding, so wind can’t work its way beneath the siding.
Those beautiful trees your kids love to climb are a source of good memories, beautiful foliage, and cozy shade during the fair seasons. However, they become one of the biggest risk factors to your home and property during a major storm. Trees account for many of the most serious damages to homes during a high wind event.
When the wind is extremely high, large branches can get blown off and hit your home. When a large tree branch fights a glass window, it’s not too much of a contest. What’s more, the entire tree can also be brought down, uprooting the trunk and badly damaging whatever it falls on.
Falling trees and flying branches are not just dangerous to your house, but also to you and your family. Check your trees and large shrubs for weak or sick branches and prune them off (this is a good practice in general). Check for trees with loose or rotting root systems and replace them before they start falling on homes. Make sure there are no trees too close to the house and make sure no branches are touching the roof.
Outbuildings, such as storage sheds, need to be prepared for high winds ahead of time. Securing such structures is critical in the event of a storm or sudden wind event.
Anchor systems are available to secure the base of a shed-like structure to the ground. There are also strapping systems that wrap around both sides of a small building, which provides excellent protection especially when both sides of the structure are anchored into the ground. The amount of straps required will depend on the length of the building being secured.
If outdoor items like barbecue grills or furniture can’t be stored inside a secured area, make sure they are anchored with a metal cable or chain to a solid structure that is cemented to the ground, such as a deck or post. Grills, furniture, toys and patio items make for efficient and destructive missiles in high winds- don’t learn this lesson the hard way.
Take Action Before A Storm Hits
When it comes to protecting your home, property and family from storms and high winds, a proactive and focused approach is required. Wind is beautiful but also dangerous, and it’s important to respect the potentially devastating consequences of this element.
Protecting a home against high wind begins with inspecting weak points and areas subject to damage, such as roofs, windows, doors, and garage doors. Scrutinize your home’s siding frequently, and take care of your trees, pruning and trimming them when needed, and removing them as necessary. Make sure outbuildings and debris remain properly secured against the elements.
Make sure your home remains a safe haven, and have plans in place for severe weather events. Being prepared against high winds can not only save lives, but also money and hassles. Don’t be afraid to call on the services of professionals to help ensure your home is ready to weather any storm that Mother Nature throws your way.
Once all the necessary precautions are complete, you can face wind, hail, snow or any other inclement weather with confidence. By following the steps above, and remaining vigilant and aware always, you can protect your home from wind and storm damage. Proactive and anticipatory safeguards can save you money, time and countless difficulties. Most importantly, it will provide you and your family with priceless peace of mind.