Protect Your Home from Damage with These 3 Storm-Proofing Tips
Down here in Houston, we know how important it is to prepare your home for the extreme weather conditions that hurricane season can bring. High winds, heavy rainfall, and flying debris can do major damage to your home, so it’s always smart to take steps to prepare and protect it when you know that severe storms are on the horizon. It’s also important to note that extreme weather is becoming more common and widespread. Damaging storms can happen in any part of the country and in every season.
Every homeowner should know the basics of how to storm-proof their home. Fortunately, it’s not very difficult or complicated. We’ve broken storm-proofing down into three easy steps you can follow.
Step 1: Clean Up Outside
When you know a storm is coming, one of the first, best, and easiest things to do to prepare is to clean up the areas outside your home. Start by removing or securing anything that could become a dangerous flying object if picked up by strong winds. That means garden tools, patio furniture, planters, construction material, toys, and anything else lying around outside your home. Properly dispose of any junk, and move the things you want to keep to your garage or another sheltered storage location.
You’ll also want to keep your gutters and drains clear, in addition to making sure they’re firmly attached. Lastly, be sure to trim any trees that are growing close to the house or have dead or cracked branches.
Step 2: Protect Your Windows
One of the worst hazards of a bad storm is window breakage due to powerful winds and flying debris. Clearing the clutter from your yard will reduce that risk, but to really safeguard your windows, you’ll want to batten down the hatches with some plywood. There are a few different ways you can do this.
One method is to cut a piece of plywood slightly larger than the window. Place it against the exterior window frame, open the window a bit, and bolt the plywood to a 2 by 4 set on the interior side of the window, sandwiching it in place. You can also cut plywood to around ¼” smaller than your window, and use tension clips to secure them to the interior window frame.
Measuring, cutting, and assembling your plywood window protectors can be a fairly time-consuming project, but if you use rot-resistant wood (like white oak or cedar), or a water-resistant sealant, you can reuse them for years.
Another option, if you live in an area where hurricane-strength storms are a regular occurrence, is to install hurricane shutters, which are specially-designed hurricane windows that are built to withstand high winds and impacts without breaking.
Step 3: Keep Water Out
Shattered windows may be one of the more dramatic and obvious ways a storm can damage your home, but it’s important to be on the lookout for subtler, more insidious forms of storm damage as well. During a storm, water can find its way into your home through old and new cracks and other openings, where it can slowly develop into a mildew, rot, or mold problem that you might not notice until months later.
During a harsh storm, rain can blow horizontally enough to find its way into little, unnoticed gaps, and high winds and hail can break down protective barriers, creating new ways for water to enter your home. Maintain your home’s moisture barrier by carefully inspecting the exterior and reapplying waterproof paint or stain where necessary.
If you see cracks in the wood, masonry, or stucco of your home’s exterior, fill them immediately. Carefully check the seals and trim around doors and windows, and replace any dried, cracked, or missing caulking.
Plan Ahead and Weather the Storm
Storm-proofing your windows should be just one part of an overall plan that protects your entire home. It’s important to check your roof, chimney, heating and electrical systems, and anything else that might cause significant problems in the event of severe storm damage.
Especially in hurricane country, it’s essential to thoroughly assess your home’s ability to withstand a major storm and to make any necessary structural improvements. With extreme weather incidents on the rise, it’s best to assume that if you live in a part of the country where catastrophic storms have happened in the past, they’ll happen again (and possibly at a heightened level). Anything you can do to help your home survive will be some of the best money you can spend.
Even the sunny and landlocked parts of the country can get hit with a freak hailstorm now and then. So, no matter where you are, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the basics of storm-proofing – and to keep some extra plywood handy, just in case.