Your home is your safe haven, and that’s particularly true when the weather turns frightful. To make sure that your home is truly prepared for what nature can dish out, you should be sure to storm-proof your home. In this guide, we’ll examine some of the challenges your home might face, and how you can prepare it to pass the test.
A Guide to Storm-proofing Your Home
In this article, we’ll examine some of the threats that your home may face, and we’ll examine some smart steps you can take to prepare for storms and other natural disasters, no matter the season in which they occur.
What Challenges Might Your Home Face?
Storm damage can originate from many types of weather, and the effects can be sudden or gradual. While roof damage from a hurricane is dramatic, less catastrophic events like heavy rain or a power failure can also cause significant damage to your home. Here are the most common events that can have a major impact on your home’s condition.
You don’t need to experience a hurricane or tropical storm to have your home experience damage from wind. Severe thunderstorms, tornados, or a derecho can also cause significant damage. Your roof, windows, doors, and garage doors are vulnerable points that should be checked and upgraded if necessary.
Heavy rain or flooding can present some serious dangers to your home. Windblown rain can seep into poorly sealed homes to cause water damage, while roofs that are improperly sealed can fail the test during heavy rains.
Depending on where you live, wildfires may pose a significant danger. And the areas that can potentially be affected by wildfires are spreading.
Snow, ice, and cold temperatures
Even in a relatively temperate environment like ours, unexpected winter storms can occur, with the potential for heavy loads of snow or ice. And if your home isn’t properly winterized, a sharp cold snap could wreak havoc on your home’s plumbing.
Lighting presents two significant dangers to your home. First is the threat of fire caused by the lighting strike. Second is the risk of damage to your electronic devices and home appliances connected to your power grid. We’ll look at ways to prevent or mitigate these dangers.
A short power outage is an inconvenience. But major disruptions to supplies as the result of storm damage can be a threat to your safety and also to the integrity of your home, particularly if you rely on sump pumps or need to control humidity after heavy rains or flooding. We’ll examine how different types of generators can assist you in the aftermath of a storm.
During a severe wind event like a hurricane or tornado, your home is at risk not only from the wind itself but from flying debris. It’s important to identify the weak points of your home and make sure they’re adequately reinforced. In addition, there are steps you can take on your property to mitigate the potential effects of flying debris. This handy guide from Texas A&M provides some in-depth information, and here are some of the highlights.
Inspect your roof
The majority of roofs are built with prefabricated trusses that are held in place by plywood sheathing on top. This may not hold up when a heavy wind load is applied to the home, so it’s important to have the roof inspected to see if additional strengthening and bracing is required. Some of the common methods for bracing your roof are to install truss and gable end braces, in addition to hurricane straps, particularly if you live near the coast.
It’s a smart idea to have an experienced roof contractor inspect your roof to see if bracing upgrades are necessary.
Windows and doors
If a window or door is broken or compromised during a wind event, high winds can enter and cause damage by putting pressure on your home. Protecting and reinforcing your windows and doors is a smart strategy.
- Consider installing storm shutters on your windows during hurricane watches or wind advisories. There are many types of storm shutters available commercially, and you can make your own plywood storm shutters by following some guidelines.
- Check to see that your doors are properly installed, with the screws fastening the door jamb to the home securely fastened to the studs of the walls. You may want to consider replacing light wooden doors with stronger metal or fiberglass models
- Because of their large size, garage doors can be vulnerable to wind. Garage door storm bracing kits are available from a number of sources and can be installed as a DIY project if you’re handy.
Prepare your property
Items on your property can present dangers to your home or may deserve protection from winds as well. Examine your property to see if you should address any of the following issues.
- Prune dead limbs on trees and have diseased or rotten trees removed. A falling tree can do extensive damage to your home. It’s better to spend the money to have a dangerous tree pruned or removed before it can damage your home.
- Anchor outbuildings like sheds or carport with tie-downs if they weren’t installed when the building was put up. There are a variety of ways to add tie-downs to an existing structure — be sure to inspect your buildings and take the necessary steps to keep them on the ground so they can protect the property inside and don’t present a danger to your home.
- Secure smaller objects on your property, like deck furniture, umbrellas, grills, and other items. It can be useful to have a checklist for these types of items and designated places where you plan on storing them when you’re expecting bad weather.
While a spring shower is a pleasant event, heavy rains caused by a hurricane, tropical storm, or severe summer thunderstorm carry with them the potential for causing real damage to your home and property. Here are some of the potential areas you should check to make sure they’re up to the demands of heavy rainfall.
Start with the roof
Your roof is your first line of defense against water damage. Many of the preventative measures you’ll take to protect your roof from wind damage will also help in this area as well.
- Check asphalt-shingled roofs for loose or damaged shingles or roof tiles. Asphalt roof cement can be used for temporary patches and fixes, and loose shingles can often be reattached. If you have numerous loose shingles, or the shingles are curling at the edges, you should consider having your roof replaced.
- Tiled roofs are usually quite durable, but the eave and hip/ridge tiles should be inspected regularly, as they’re the most likely to fail and allow water to enter.
- Metal roofs should be inspected for any signs of rust, particularly around fastening screws.
Inspect the gutters and downspouts
Your gutters and downspouts perform the vital task of channeling water off your roof and away from your home. Be sure that your gutters and downspouts are firmly attached to your home so they don’t pull away when under the weight of a full load of water. The outlets for your downspouts should be at least six feet away from your home’s foundation. In addition check for leaks in the gutters that may contribute to wood rotting. And of course, be sure your gutters are cleaned regularly.
Seal windows and doors
Wind-driven rain can make its way into small cracks around your windows and doors, and this moisture can contribute greatly to rot and deterioration. Check around the perimeter of your windows and doors to make sure that the caulk is in good shape. Cracked or missing caulk should be replaced at your first opportunity to ensure a weatherproof seal. Finally, check the wood around your windows and doors and make sure that it’s not soft or spongy — a sign that there’s rot underneath the surface.
Keep your paint in great shape
A good coat of paint on your home’s exterior is one of its best defenses against the elements. It will prevent water from soaking into the interior of your siding. If your paint is getting worn, faded, or chipped, be sure to get a new coat.
Inspect and maintain sump pumps
If your home has a sump pump in the basement, it may only run infrequently, so you want to be sure that it’s ready to operate when it needs to. Regular checks and maintenance are very important. Check the operation of your pump every three to four months by making sure the basin is debris-free and the inlet screen is clear. Perform any annual maintenance that the manual suggests every year.
Prepare for flooding
You don’t have to live in a floodplain to be concerned about flooding. Intense rain can cause water to pool in front of spots like garage doors, causing flooding inside your home. Even an inch or two of water can ruin carpets and furniture and make for a messy cleanup. Keep sandbags and plastic on hand to create a dam.
Depending on where you live, your home could be at risk from another kind of natural risk — wildfires. In fact, according to analytics company CoreLogic, over two million homes in America are at risk of being damaged from wildfires, and with the effects of climate change, that number is bound to increase. Fortunately, there are some common-sense preventative steps and home upgrades you can make to make your home and property more resistant to fire. Check out the following tips and refer to readyforwildfire.org for more information.
Your roof is your first line of defense
The right roofing materials can make all the difference if a wildfire threatens your home. Be sure your roof’s shingles meet a Class A rating for fire protection. If you’re not sure, have a qualified roofing contractor perform an inspection to find out.
In addition to your roofing materials, you can improve your home’s fire resistance with these preventative measures:
- Install metal flashing installed where wooden deck surfaces meet your siding.
- Box in exposed wooden rafter tails in your home’s eaves.
- Cover any vents or exposed ventilation openings with fireproof screening to prevent embers from blowing into your home.
Create a defensive perimeter around your home
Flammable materials around your home can make a bad situation worse, by providing a bridge for a fire to make the jump to your home. Follow these guidelines to keep your home safer.
- Keep your gutters and vents clear of twigs, leaves, and other combustible materials.
- Keep combustible materials like lumber, firewood, and trash at least five feet away from your home.
- Remove overhanging limbs. Remove or trim bushes that are immediately adjacent to your home.
- Keep wooded areas on your property clear of excess vegetation and regularly clean out downed limbs and other debris.
Preparing for Winter Storms
While our Texas climate is much more temperate than that of northern and northeastern states, winter storms and cold temperatures can still deal up surprises if our home isn’t adequately prepared. Here are some tips on how to ensure your home is prepared for the winter.
Maintain your roof
Have we said that before? The truth is that your roof is vital in protecting your home from all sorts of storm damage, and that includes winter storms. Be sure to do these checks before the winter months.
- Check for missing or damaged shingles. They provide an easy avenue for water to seep into your home from melting snow and ice.
- Keep gutters clear. Clogged gutters can ice to build up, with the accumulated weight pulling down gutters and downspouts.
- Be sure flashing around vents, skylights, and chimneys is in good shape.
If you’re worried about whether your roof is up to speed, contact us to schedule a roof inspection. Estimates are always free.
Have your furnace checked or upgraded
You’ll be relying on your furnace during the winter months, so now is the time to get it checked over and have regular maintenance performed. In fact, if your system is old it may be a good time to consider getting a new, more efficient system installed so you can save money over the long haul. At the least, consider upgrading your thermostat to a programmable model that lets you adjust your heating and cooling levels automatically, or through the use of an app. They’re convenient and can save you money.
Insulate your pipes
If you have pipes in an exposed crawl space or unheated basement, wrap pipe insulation around them before the cold sets in. Broken or frozen pipes aren’t fun to fix, and they can cause a lot of damage in a short period of time.
Have your fireplace cleaned
If you use a fireplace or woodstove regularly, you should have your chimney cleaned annually. Creosote buildup can cause chimney fires, which have the potential to spread to the rest of your home. Animal nests can also be established during the warmer months, another significant fire hazard.
Lightning Strikes & Power Surges
Lightning strikes cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damages to American homes each year. There are several smart ways to decrease your risk.
Install a lightning protection system
Lightning protection systems don’t try to attract or repel lightning. What they provide is a safe pathway for the energy of the lighting bolt to travel away from your home and to ground. Lightning protection systems consist of interconnected air terminals (often called lightning rods) that are installed along the roof line and other high points of your home, like chimneys. These will be connected to other metal surfaces on your home, like gutters. When lightning strikes one of these objects, it will be directed over a series of cables to a safe grounding point away from your home.
Invest in surge protection
Even the best lightning protection system can’t offer 100% protection, so you should establish a second line of defense by using high-quality surge protectors to protect electronics. One of the most effective ways to provide this protection is to invest in a whole-home surge protection system. These systems provide comprehensive protection throughout the home from the dangers of electrical surges caused by lighting or other sources. You can learn more in this article.
Add-on surge protectors can also provide some protection, but don’t make the mistake of assuming that the power strip under the desk in your home office is a surge protector. Look for the terms surge protector, fuse strip, or interrupter when you’re shopping. To be on the safe side, be sure it’s approved by Underwriters Laboratory, and is listed as a “transient voltage surge suppressor.”
Be Prepared for Power Failures With Backup Power
Backup power is important in the aftermath of a major storm. With backup power, you can keep electronics charged up and maintain your internet connection, plus run essentials like well and sump pumps, plus heating and cooling. And let’s not forget how important having power will be to keep your refrigerator and freezer operating. You have some options when it comes to backup power.
Battery power packs
Power packs with built-in batteries and inverters are a viable option if your power needs are minimal. Power packs will let you keep your electronics charged up, and they can operate some small appliances for a limited time, too. You can pair a power pack with a solar panel for charging or charge them using the 12V DC outputs in your car.
Portable generators are economical and can serve multiple purposes beyond providing backup power to your home. You can also use them for outdoor events, camping, and more. When shopping for a portable generator, compare the power output to the power requirements of the devices you need to run. For example, if your main priority is to keep your refrigerator running, be sure the generator has the capacity to do so.
Also, consider how you’ll connect the generator to your home. The best way is to have an electrician install a dedicated input and a special circuit breaker box that disconnects your home from the electric mains and channels the power to the specific outlets your need. But if your needs are simple, you may be able to get by with a few heavy-duty extension cords connected from the generator to the appliances you’ll be powering.
Whole-home standby generators
Standby generators are built to swing into action automatically when the power goes out. They typically have a larger generating capacity than portable generators, so you can, depending on size, continue to provide power to most or all of your home. Choosing the fuel source for a standby generator is important. For reliability and run-time duration they usually use propane or natural gas as a fuel source.
Installing a standby generator isn’t a job for the do-it-yourselfer. Consult with us at Team Enoch and we can examine your needs and recommend and install a system that will meet your needs. Learn more about whole-home generators in this article, and contact us to get a free quote.
Don’t Forget These Important Steps
Preparing the physical structure of your house to stand up to storms is important, but it’s also smart to prepare yourself and your family for the disruptions a major storm may bring. Here are some common-sense preparations you should make.
- Review your insurance. Don’t assume that everything is covered, or that you’re up to date on the amount of coverage you have.
- Take an inventory of your home’s contents and keep a copy in a safe place. This may help expedite the claims process if your home’s contents are destroyed or damaged.
- Make a disaster plan that includes important information like communications, shelter, and evacuation routes. Learn more here.
- Have an emergency kit prepared with food, water, and essential supplies you’ll need to handle a disruption in your routine. Learn more here.
Consult With the Pros
While there are a lot of things you can do to storm-proof your home on your own, it’s important to consult professionals when it comes to ensuring structural integrity, making sure your electrical system is up to speed, and many other aspects of storm-proofing. At Team Enoch, we have the experience and expertise to help. Get in touch with us to find out how we can help you. Remember, estimates are always free.
THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY: TEAM ENOCH
(817) 888-8880 | mail[at]teamenoch.com
Team Enoch provides electrical, plumbing, roofing and HVAC services to residential and commercial customers in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metro with an emphasis on value (service price, quality).
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