How to Reduce Wind Damage to Your Home
By taking precautions before a storm is imminent is the best way to minimize wind damage. Although wind damage is typically associated with tornadoes and hurricanes, it is common for it to occur during severe thunderstorms as well as the day after severe weather moves through. It is important to take preventive measures to protect your property Homeowners can protect their homes, both inside and out, against disaster damages by following steps suggested by Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Refer to your home owner’s insurance policy to determine what damage is covered and what your deductibles are. You may wish to consult with your insurance agent to see what recommendations they can make which will limit your risk exposure and possibly lower your insurance premium.
When most people think about wind damage they immediately think about their roof. Roofing is not something the average homeowner inspects regularly, but it is important that you get into the habit of routine maintenance and repairs to minimize wind and water damage to your home.
If you are not comfortable getting onto your roof, hire a professional roofing to inspect it for you and make any necessary repairs. If you do go up on your roof here are a few things to look for:
• Check to see if the tabs are well-adhered to the shingle beneath. Loose shingles can be pulled off easily in high winds and can lead to serious water damage. The older the roof is, the more likely it is to experience some wind damage. A small dab of roof cement will improve adhesive between the shingles.
• Check to see if the edges of the shingles are curled, this is an indication of age and will also make the shingles more likely to be lifted off by high winds.
• Inspect the drip flashing at the edges to verify that it is secure.
• Hip roofs are stronger than gable roofs, but there are more ridges on the roof where wind can get under the shingle edge. Make sure that all ridge shingles are fastened securely.
• Inspect the gutters and replace any loose nails and ferrules with screws to improve the strength of the fastener.
• Check for loose sleeves and boots around roof penetrations like plumbing vents.
• Inspect flashing around chimneys and caulk or replace any loose or damaged step flashing.
• Check chimney caps to ensure that they are secured.
• Inspect masonry chimneys for loose mortar, brick, or damaged terra cotta liners.
Outdoor Structures and Objects
High velocity winds from thunderstorms and tornadoes can flip over patio furniture, toys, and grills and cause them to collide with the exterior of your home. If the area immediately surrounding your house contains trees, outbuildings, trash cans, yard debris, or other materials that can be moved by the wind, your house will more likely be damaged during a tornado or windstorm. Smaller objects can be picked up by high winds and driven through windows, glass doors, and damage siding.
All storage sheds and other outbuildings should be securely anchored, either to a permanent foundation or with straps and ground anchors. The straps and ground anchors used for manufactured homes can be used for outbuildings, such as garden sheds, which are not placed on a permanent foundation. Outdoor furniture and barbecue grills can be secured by bolting them to decks or patios or by attaching them to ground anchors with cables or chains, or placing them inside a secured location after use. Trash cans should be secured with cables or chains attached to ground anchors or to wood posts firmly embedded in the ground.
Wood fences are another prime source of debris that can collide with your home. Inspect your fencing and posts at least annually and repair any rotted, loose, or missing components. Make sure gates are secured mounted to their hinges and have a working locking mechanism.
One of the weakest points on your home is the overhead garage door. Often ignored until there is a problem, loose tracks and rollers can cause the door to come off track in high wind situations, especially if it faces prevailing winds. High winds from tornadoes can damage garage doors or even blow them in. If wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage to the home. Metal panels are more likely to fail than heavier wood panels. A garage door can be reinforced by adding braces across the back of the door and by strengthening the roller wheel tracks. If the existing door is old or damaged, it should be replaced with a stronger door and new tracks. These modifications should be done only by a trained garage-door systems technician.
Garage doors without windows are stronger than doors with glass panels. Also make sure that the garage door track should have a minimum of 6 brackets, or a continuous mounting bracket for the track.
Other weak points on homes are roof penetrations such as skylights and dormers. Make sure that the glazing in the skylight is impact resistant and that the flashing is installed properly and secure. Dormers can be easily damaged by high winds due to their position on the roof and the quality of their construction. Poorly constructed dormers can be completely torn off in high winds as the flow of wind rises up from the vertical face of the home and interacts with the straight-line winds.
Trees and Landscaping Tips
Tall leafy trees such as oaks and maples enhance the look of a property and help keep homes cool from their shade, but they also can provide the largest source of debris that can break windows, crush walls, and puncture roofs. Proper maintenance and placement of trees will minimize tree loss and home damage.
The best way to prevent storm damage on a home from falling trees and limbs is to locate trees far enough away from your house that they can’t fall on it. The distance between your house and any nearby tree should be greater than the height the tree will reach when it is fully grown.
If this is not practical or you are not willing to remove large trees that are planted too close to your home then you need to properly care for trees to prevent storm damage. Over 75% of the damage that trees incur during storms is predictable and preventable. Trees with wounds, decay, structural defects, stem girdling roots; severed roots and soil compaction are most susceptible to storm damage.
There are a few simple steps in keeping your trees healthy as well as limiting the damage that can be caused by falling debris:
• Plant the tree at the correct depth by making sure the top of the roots are at the soil surface. Trees planted too deep can develop stem girdling. In this condition, tree roots encircle the stem, weakening it just below the ground and making it susceptible to snap off at the stem-girdled point in the event of a forceful wind. Potted trees purchased at nurseries often develop circular root systems that can lead to stem girdling.
Stem girdling roots can be above the soil line or just below.
Trees with stem girdling roots will often show signs of stress or be weaker on one side.
• Avoid wounding trees by such things as banging with a lawn mower and cutting with a weed trimmer. Wounds lead to decay and decay is the leading cause which leads to storm-damaged trees.
• Prune trees to correct defects, such as multiple leaders and weak branch attachments.
• Prune trees as soon as the defect is detected because younger trees will heal faster from the pruning.
In some states, homeowners can benefit from reduced insurance premiums. The Gulf Coast states, which are most prone to windstorm damage from hurricanes, have each considered mandating incentives to mitigate damage due to wind. Mississippi and Texas currently do not have such legislation, although it has been successful in Florida. Following Hurricane Andrew, Florida passed a law requiring insurance companies to offer their customers discounts and credits for existing building features and home improvements that reduce damage and loss from wind. In order to qualify for this discount, homes must undergo a certified home wind inspection. Unfortunately many Floridians do not know of this law.
Those with windstorm insurance can avoid a costly deductible. Deductibles for homes in hurricane-prone areas can exceed $20,000, meaning that mild to moderate wind damage might not be covered by insurance at all. If proper wind mitigation techniques have been used, these expenses can be avoided altogether.
As stated previously, hip roofs are stronger than gable roofs often referred to as roof shape. The end-walls of gable roofs extend vertically to the sloping roofline. These gable end-walls, if not properly built or braced, have been known to fail outward due to the negative suctions on the wall. Additionally, field testing has shown that hip roofs receive up to 40% less pressure from wind than gable roofs.
Wind Pressure Profile on a home with a gable roof
If you are planning to replace your roof in the near future, consider installing a secondary waterproof membrane over the entire roof sheathing and then install high quality shingles on top. If your roof is in good shape you may want to investigate the possibility of applying a spray foam membrane on the underside of the sheathing in your attic to prevent any water damage.
Construction features used to reduce wind damage
If you live in a high wind area, you may want to replace your glass window panes with impact resistant windows. This will minimize damage to the window if it is hit by a flying projectile or tree limbs.