For those of us living in the South, hurricanes are an accepted part of life. Starting in June and persisting until the end of November, the Atlantic hurricane season marks the period each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. With the increased occurrence of tropical storms comes the increased possibility for expensive damage to property. South Louisiana experienced a record-breaking hurricane season in 2020 and meteorologists are predicting above-average activity for the 2021 season.
The good news is that with careful preparation and precaution you can help hurricane proof your house from strong winds, heavy rains and dangerous debris. To assist with your hurricane prep efforts, Doug Ashy has compiled a list of the 4 most vulnerable areas of a home during a hurricane and outlined steps you can take to protect against costly hurricane damage.
Any opening into your house is a potential point of failure when confronted by hurricane-strength winds. The most dangerous scenario during a hurricane is letting wind pressure get inside of your house as it can easily tear off your roof from the inside. The best way to prevent catastrophic damage to your house is through reinforcing any openings, such as doors. There are two primary considerations when reinforcing doors: dead load, which is represented by the total weight of the door; and live load, which is represented by the force exerted from wind pressure.
Increasing the dead load by adding weight to the door (or altogether replacing it) will work to counteract wind pressure, but you also need to factor in structural support. You can easily add support to your doors through the addition of heavy-duty deadbolts, sliding bolts at the top and bottom of doors or even replacing the original hinge attachment screws with longer screws that extend further into the door and frame; some door manufacturers even offer door reinforcement kits.
Another common point of failure during a hurricane is improperly reinforced windows. Unlike most reinforced doors, glass windows are dangerously susceptible to wind-borne debris. Not only is broken glass a safety hazard, but once strong wind enters the house through an open entryway, it can wreak havoc on the interior of your home.
Installing storm shutters is a safe way to protect glass surfaces from hurricane damage. If you don’t want shutters to be permanent fixtures, you can easily install tracks or other fastening hardware that allows for easier installation and preparation in the event of a hurricane. If you’d prefer a less-visible alternative, you can also install specially made stormproof windows that are designed to be impact-resistant. Just be sure that your stormproof windows fit your window frame securely and have no detectable leaks.
One inch of floodwater can lead to $7,800 worth of damage to your home and, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the loss of garage doors is a leading factor that contributes to hurricane storm damage in homes. Because most residential garage doors are light in design they are a particularly vulnerable point of failure and, when compromised, expose large portions of the house to destructive wind pressure.
High winds can cause your garage door to be pulled from its tracks or collapse from pressure, so it is important to ensure your garage door is reinforced at its weakest points by installing horizontal bracing on each panel. If you are installing a new door, use heavier than standard hinges and stronger center supports for doors located in hurricane-prone regions. Many garage door manufacturers sell hurricane bracing kits for their specific models, which can help keep your garage door hurricane resistant.
The highest part of your house, the roof, bears the brunt of hurricane damage. The roof plays an important role in protecting the rest of the house from rain and must not collapse or be blown away by wind. Naturally, once the roof is compromised, the rest of the house is directly susceptible to hurricane damage and flooding. There are three vital considerations when discussing a roof’s ability to protect against hurricane damage:
1 – The covering that keeps your house dry. The covering itself is in place to serve as an umbrella for your house, which is constantly exposed to UV rays, heat, rain and wind. Make sure the external surface has not deteriorated, as this will serve as the first defense against the elements.
A majority of roof covers are installed over a water-resistant material (typically felt paper) that provides an extra surface for water to be absorbed. Ensure that this material is still in place, or has been properly installed, so it can properly serve as insulation against the elements.
2 – The structure that supports the covering and maintains shape. This is your sheathing and framing, which acts as a barrier for wind and water damage. Sheathing serves to displace wind pressure so that, rather than push down on the roof, the wind is diverted upwards and pulls up and against the roof. Framing is composed of rafters and ceiling joints, and in place to support sheathing.
It’s a good idea to conduct routine inspection and maintenance of your sheathing and framing, as it’s not typically a visible part of the house.
3 – The connections between the roof structure and the walls. This refers to a variety of structural supports, such as gable end walls and overhangs, which act to hold up and support roof structures. These connections need to be strong enough to counteract both internal and external wind pressures.
If you’re in a hurricane-prone area, you should consider installing connection braces and brackets to reinforce support structures, as well as replace any material that has started to deteriorate.
Doug Ashy To The Rescue
It’s a good idea to take inventory of the most vulnerable aspects of your house and to hurricane-proof your home accordingly. For many homeowners (especially those unfamiliar with construction or home maintenance), this process can seem overwhelming. It can be hard to prioritize home repair needs, let alone a budget, for proper hurricane damage prevention.
Fortunately, the Doug Ashy family is well-equipped to walk you through common concerns and help recommend the best buying solutions. Stop by your local Doug Ashy store to get start-to-finish help when you hurricane-proof your home.