Wind can rip the roofs off of buildings; tear siding from the outer walls, and hurl debris through windows. It can also cause trees to fall which crush roofs and walls. Wind damage can happen to any home in the path of a storm. Coastal homes are much more likely to be affected simply because storms are more likely.
Protective measures: Nonstructural
Protecting your home from the damage is crucial. Without making structural changes to your home, you can protect yourself from wind damage by:
- Keeping the trees in your yard trimmed. Look for branches that could fall from the trees and remove them.
- Look for any loose building parts including: shingles, siding, and chimney bricks. Repair or replace immediately.
Along with hurricanes comes torrential rain, so keeping an eye out for potential water damage is important as well. Keep all important documents and photographs in a safe place, like a safety deposit box at your bank.
If you get warning before the storm (likely with hurricanes, not likely with tornadoes) take protective action.
- Move breakable objects away from windows and doors.
- Board doors and windows.
- Bring all outdoor items inside.
- Secure or move boats and vehicles.
- Secure mobile home anchors.
- Turn off all gas tanks.
Protective measures: Structural
Several areas of your home can be improved upon structurally to help reduce the wind and water damage that comes along with a storm.
Brace roof trusses. Install hurricane straps. Make sure the plywood sheathing is properly installed. Consider adding a water barrier to the roof.
Strengthen doors and windows by installing a shutter system of some sort. This can be shutters affixed to the home, automatic shutters that come down and lock, accordion style shutters, cloth, or plexiglass.
If your home does not already have wind resistant doors and windows, reinforce the doors, including your garage door using kits for both the top and bottom. Do not use your car to reinforce your garage door—it will just cause damage to the vehicle.
If a storm is coming and you do not have time to install these bracing features on your doors and windows, board them with a thick sheet of plywood before leaving the premises to escape the path of the storm. Board all exterior doors and windows, including the garage door. This will provide more protection than nothing.
Wind Mitigation Inspection
If you want to know more about how well your home is already protected against wind damage, consider getting a wind mitigation inspection. A certified contractor will come to your home and inspect it for certain features. He or she will then present a certificate for you to take to your homeowner’s insurance company. It may help you qualify for discounts on your home insurance.
Insurance companies will give you a discount on your premiums because the most well protected homes represent the least amount of risk to them. They know that if a storm hits, even though damage is likely, it will not be as severe as damage in homes not built with wind mitigation features.
Depending on what the inspector finds in your home, he or she may be able to provide recommendations for home improvements that will help protect you from wind damage.
Get a new wind mitigation inspection after major home repairs are made, to show that you’ve built a more resistant home. You may be surprised at the money you can save. Many homeowner’s report saving an average of 10 to 40% on their premiums in the first year alone.