Prevent Hurricane Damage to Your Home

August 22, 2011; 4:55 AM ET
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"Hurricane winds can damage homes by entering weak areas of the house such as windows, doors, roofs and garage doors. "

When there is a threat of a hurricane, there are preventative measures you can take to minimize the amount of damage it will cause to your home.

The biggest cause of damage to houses during a hurricane comes from high winds that accompany the storm. Hurricanes are measured by the speed of the wind the storm produces. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is used to rate hurricanes from a category one to a category five.

A Category 1 hurricane has winds that are between 74-95 mph. A Category 5 hurricane has winds that are greater than 155 mph. Hurricane winds can damage homes by entering weak areas of the house such as windows, doors, roofs and garage doors. These critical areas can be reinforced to prevent damage.

You can reinforce your home with permanent measures if you are making other home improvements or building an addition. You can also take temporary measures to minimize damage.

Windows and Glass Doors

To reinforce windows, either shutters or reinforced glass should be used. Shutters made of wood that are attached to the house can protect windows and glass doors. The most important thing to remember when using shutters is that they need to be securely anchored to your home and fastened closed securely when in use.

The shutters can either be permanently attached to your home or can be stored and attached in the event of an emergency. If you don't have shutters, use plywood and cover all glass windows and doors for a temporary fix.

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Installing windows and glass doors that are made of impact-resistant glass is also an effective way to limit damage to them. The impact-resistant windows and doors are made with a more sturdy frame and the glass is glazed and better able to resist wind pressure and damage made by wind blown debris. Debris that hits these windows or doors can crack them, but they will be able to stay intact and not break apart.

Entry and Garage Doors

The doors to houses are either single or double entry doors. If the door is a single entry door and it is made of solid wood or hollow steel, the door should be strong enough to withstand hurricane force wind and debris damage. If you are not sure if the door is strong enough you should take steps to reinforce it. Make sure the entry door has at least three hinges. It should also have a dead-bolt lock with a bolt throw that is at least one inch in length.

A double-entry door takes some extra steps to secure. You should install head and foot bolts on the inactive door. Make sure the surface bolt is long enough to extend into the door header and through the threshold into the subfloor.

Double garage doors, unless they are tested and hurricane-resistant, can fail

in a hurricane force wind. Single garage doors are somewhat strong, but they too can be reinforced. There are garage door reinforcement kits available for many brands of garage doors. Check for the kit at a local building supply store or garage door installation company. It is best to see if the supplier can do the installation.

Roof Reinforcement

Gabled roofs are at a high risk of collapse during a hurricane. Gable trusses are usually attached directly to the top of gable end walls. The bottom of the truss should be securely nailed to the top of the way and braced to adjacent trusses. The bracing will help prevent the end wall from being destroyed.

Shingles can also be damaged during a hurricane. This usually occurs when applied shingles have not properly adhered to the underlying shingles. Before a storm, have your shingles inspected to make sure the adhesive has properly attached.

If the inspect reveals the shingles have not adhered properly, you can apply quick-setting asphalt cement to them. Use either a putty knife or caulking gun and apply two dabs of cement under each shingle tab. Use care not to bend the shingles any farther than necessary. Any damaged or missing shingles should be replaced.

By following these tips to reinforce your home, you can prevent costly hurricane damage when the storm moves through your area.


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