WINDPROOFING YOUR HOME
Top tips for protecting your family and property during hurricane season
High winds can be a home damage danger any time of year, but theyre a particular worry in many regions of the U.S. during the hurricane season that stretches from June to November. It isnt just the high-speed force of the winds themselves, but also the debris they carry with them that can create a chain reaction of structural damage. Newer homes in hurricane zones now have built-in protection thanks to strict codes, but if your home is older and potentially in the path of seasonal winds, you can protect it by tending to the following wind-resistant retrofits.
Halt wind damage at the door:
Having strong, stable, protective entries is a must when high winds come knocking. You not only need to be sure yours will stay closed and on their hinges, but also stand up to the heavy, high-speed debris that can actually bust through a closed door, as shown in a recent impact test by Therma-Tru. Take a look at the video from this test, and youll see what happens when a two-by-four traveling at 35 miles per hour hits a standard wood door─pretty scary, and even scarier when you know that hurricane-force winds can move up to and over 140 mph.
You can prevent such dangerous intrusions by upgrading all entries with impact-resistant fiberglass units such as those in Therma-Trus Tru-Defense collection of high performance entry and patio doors, components and certified systems. Tru-Defense meets and exceeds code requirements in coastal regions and other areas of the country with extreme weather conditions, and the broad range of styles in the collection allows for strong curb appeal as well. In general, fiberglass doors are a great choice for an entry system because they wont rot, crack or split like wood doors or dent, rust or corrode like steel doors. Whats more, Therma-Trus fiberglass entryway doors are Energy Star compliant and offer five times the insulation of wood.
Garage door reinforcement:
In high-wind conditions, the bigger your garage door, the bigger the risk of damage. That double-wide garage door may look impressive, but it doesnt take much of a gust to push in the center and pop it off of its roller tracks. When this happens, wind pressure fills the rest of the house with air and causes severe damage, essentially blowing up a structure rather than blowing it down.
Most manufacturers make reinforced garage doors for high-wind environments, but if you have a cheaper model, you can strengthen it with an upgrade kit. These kits consist of several horizontal metal braces that are easily installed with a drill or screwdriver; to determine how many braces you need, just count the number of panel sections that make up the door and install one brace across the center of each panel. As an added precaution when high winds arrive, park your vehicles inside the garage and close to the door, and then carefully back the vehicles tightly against the door for additional support.
Just like a wind-busted door, a broken window can affect the structural integrity of a home, so adjusting every view for safety and security is critical. Replacing existing windows with impact-resistant models is a smart investment─much like car windows, their glass consists of two layers with a tough interlayer in between that holds glass in place if it breaks. Shop for a high design pressure (DP) rating, which tells you how resistant a window is to positive and negative air pressure, rain and wind (DP ratings of 50 or higher meet the strictest national standards held by Dade County, Florida). Storm shutters are also important if you live along the coast. You can have these professionally built or make your own from half-inch plywood stamped CDX thats cut to fit the outside of each window. Pre-drill 1/8-inch holes every 12 inches and secure to the windows with screws. To minimize cosmetic damage, mark where each shutter goes─that way, youll be able to use the same screw holes and have fewer repairs to make after storm winds pass.
Roofs often go first in severe storms, so install simple metal tie-down straps to keep roof rafters tied to the top wall of your home and prevent uplift during high winds. These straps can also secure walls to floors and keep floors tied tightly to foundations. This wind-proofing improvement does require some specialized skills but is generally simple and inexpensive to accomplish, even with the help of a pro.
Wind can also do damage when it gets under the skin of your home, loosening and even ripping away such siding species as vinyl and aluminum. If youre due for a redo of your homes exterior, consider the tougher good looks of fiber cement products like HardiePlank lap siding. It offers great protection in a range of climates and environments, along with the style flexibility of a paintable surface and varied textures.
Survey your yard for weak tree branches that lie within crashing distance of your home, and trim them away before the winds arrive. You can also prevent the uprooting of larger trees through the strategic removal of branches to allow high winds to flow through.
Every item left outside of your home can become a dangerous projectile when fueled by high winds, so remove all outdoor furniture, toys, garbage cans, flowerpots and any other piece of personal property youre able to move.
Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program. To find a local radio station, download the show's podcast or sign-up for Tom's free weekly e-newsletter, visit the program's website.