How to Protect Your Home From Severe Weather

Many parts of the country experience strong storms in late summer and throughout the fall. Heavy rain, strong winds, and other powerful forces of nature can do serious damage to your property in a very short time. Before storm season hits, take action to prevent bad things from happening by checking off the items on this list, rather than waiting to assess damage when the storms are over.

Flying debris is dangerous! Be sure to pick up and securely store gardening tools and supplies, outdoor furniture and décor, dead tree limbs, and other clutter that could go flying through a window or door.

One crack of lightning or a gale-force wind can bring down large limbs and branches right onto your roof, through your windows, or onto your vehicles. Any dead trees should be removed immediately, since a withered root system could allow the entire thing to uproot and crash down. You’ll have more to worry about than just your roof if that happens.

Preparing your home for storm season could get you a break on your homeowners insurance! Check with your insurance carrier to see if you can save.

Replace any loose shingles or tiles, and check that your flashing is attached firmly. Metal roofing may have lifted at the edges and need to be secured. If you have an accessible attic or crawl space, you can check for leaks, mold, and damage to the underside of the roof yourself. Sure, your roof is built to be durable and long-lasting, but the weather can really do a number on it if you’re not maintaining it during the off season.

Wind, hail, and airborne items can all damage your siding. Cracks and chips need to be addressed, while holes and breakage should be inspected by a professional. Paint, stucco, and bricks can all be damaged by severe weather as well.

Check your weatherstripping and make sure it’s not damaged or peeling off. Preventing water and wind from rushing through your house means you’ll have less mess to clean up when the storm subsides. If you need to have sheets of plywood, hurricane film, or storm shutters on hand, get them and be sure you know how to install them properly. (Note: duct taping Xs on your windows does not work!) You could also upgrade to high-impact glass that cracks into spiderwebs, much like your car’s windshield, instead of shattering.

According to Keller Roofing & Inspections, you must keep your doors and windows tightly closed during a storm, or you could damage your roof. If a door or window flies open, it can change the air pressure in your home and ever-so-slightly lift your roof, weakening the whole structure.

If your budget won’t allow for a new impact-resistant or hurricane-proof garage door ($750-$1,300), then a bracing kit may be the way to go. It includes everything you need except the tools and costs around $500 if you have a double door. Bracing kits add reinforcements to the door itself as well as the tracks.

Be careful when you assess the post-storm damage! Flooding, downed power lines, broken glass, and other debris can injure people and animals even after the storm subsides.

Leaves and other debris that block the gutters can be swept into the downspouts, damaging them. Rainwater with nowhere to go can back up onto the roof and puddle there, weakening the whole thing, or flood around the foundation of your home, causing structural damage. Check that your downspouts are securely attached and carry water away from your house.

Earthquakes are becoming more prevalent across the country, in areas that may never have felt them before. They can cause your house to move or shift on its foundation, which is a very bad thing. Luckily, you can actually anchor your home to the foundation with steel plates to mitigate the damage. Reinforcing the cripple wall, which helps support the house and creates your crawl space, and bracing chimneys are also recommended as preventative measures.

When severe weather strikes, it’s a good idea to have tall furniture and appliances anchored so your bookshelves and cabinets don’t come crashing down, possibly injuring the people inside your home and damaging your possessions. Your water heater also should be secured. Add ledge barriers to shelves, place heavier items on lower shelves, and install latches on cabinet and cupboard doors to help reduce the breakage inside your home.

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