Hurricane-Proof Your Home With These Tips

By Bud Dietrich

It seems as if hurricane season is starting earlier and staying later than when I was young. While it was almost unheard of to use the letter "s" to name a hurricane back then, it may just be the new normal now. Whatever the cause, it seems that as we renovate our older homes or build new ones, mitigating the effects of these storms is something we'll all have to address.

Here are some tips for getting your home in a position to ride out a storm:

1. Protect your windows and doors.

Whether with impact-resistant glass or shutters, protecting doors and windows against high winds and flying debris is imperative. Hurricane-force winds can hurl objects that act like bullets.

Consider installing shutters or providing a system, such as a track, to easily install shutters in case of an approaching storm. Although the shutter wouldn't be a permanent fixture on the exterior of your home, the track or other fastening hardware would be. So make sure the hardware is integrated with any other exterior improvements you plan to make.

2. Keep your landscape free of debris.

Prune trees and remove dead branches well before the hurricane shows up. Also remove any patio furniture and other loose items outside that can get blown around.

3. Design for uplift.

Hurricane-force winds can pull buildings apart. Roof structures are particularly prone to being sent flying, a danger to everyone and everything around. So using the correct, and in many places code-mandated, construction-fastening system is a must. From tie-downs to lateral anchors, from hold-downs to embedded connectors, the choice of fastener will vary by location and type of construction.

4. Mind the door.

Garage doors are real weak spots for hurricane-force winds. If the door gives way, the winds can enter the house and cause the roof to be torn off. Prevent this by making sure the garage door is installed to withstand these forces or brace an existing door to prevent its giving way.

5. Let the water flow.

While you should always keep your gutters and downspouts clean, it's particularly important to make sure nothing blocks flowing water during a storm. Let's face it, the water will want to go somewhere. If it's not down and away, it'll be in your roof and attic. Conduct a visual inspection of your gutters and downspouts to be sure nothing blocks the flow of water from your roof and away from your home.

6. Take a 'belt and suspenders' approach.

Try to keep your basement or crawl space dry with a more-than-basic drainage and sump pump system. Create redundancy in the system with two drain tile layers as well as battery backup, or better yet, have sump pumps backed with emergency power.

7. Keep the power on.

While you and your home hopefully will weather the storm, the power grid likely won't. Having a standby generator to produce electrical power can't be beat. While you can install a whole-house system, you don't have to. If the generator is smaller and keeps only the essentials going, you'll be able to withstand the storm's after effects that much better.

Bear in mind that a running generator can be quite noisy. So local building and zoning codes will have an influence on where it can be placed. Make sure you follow these rules and place the generator in a location that won't drive you or your neighbors crazy when it's running.

Read more tips on how to hurricane-proof your home at Houzz.

See more on Houzz:
How to Prepare Your House for Emergencies
It's Time to Reclaim Your Basement
Help! Find a General Contractor in Your Area

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