Water Everywhere: How to Protect Your Home Against Hurricanes

Roofing
Wind and water can severely damage your home during a hurricane. How can you prepare? 

How can you protect your home? When you become a homeowner, all of a sudden protecting your home becomes a big priority. You want to make sure that you don’t need to renovate, have a large insurance claim, or suffer property damage due to disasters. However, many elements of home management are not up to you. Natural disasters such as hurricanes can take a toll on your home. How can you protect your home from as much damage as possible during hurricane season? 

Understanding Hurricane Risks 

If you live in a hurricane area, you know that there are various types of damage that your home can suffer during a hurricane. According to NOAA, the major risks associated with hurricanes include:

  • Storm surges and rip currents 
  • Heavy rainfall
  • Flooding 
  • High wind 
  • Tornadoes 

Unless you live near the ocean in an area prone to storm surges, as a homeowner you’ll be most likely to experience the heavy rainfall, flooding, and wind associated with a hurricane. 

Hurricane Damage to Your Home 

If it becomes rainy and windy during a hurricane, this is not your average lightweight storm. The rain, wind, and flooding associated with a hurricane can seriously damage your home. 

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane scale examines some of the damage that a hurricane’s winds can do to your home. This damage moves from small roofing damage due to broken tree branches for a Category 1 hurricane into homes with roofs torn off and major structural damage during Category 4 hurricanes.

While wind is generally what people think about when they think about hurricanes, the damage from water can be just as substantial. According to the Business Insider, “While strong winds can rip shingles off roofs and tear down power lines, flooding often causes more widespread, costlier damage – and can be more dangerous for humans….” Combine heavy rainfall with storm surges and you get everything from flooded homes to homes that are actually pushed over by water and debris. 

How Can You Prevent Wind Damage? 

Your ability to prevent wind damage depends on the category of the hurricane, but it also depends on the way that you’ve prepared your home. The university extension service has many helpful directions for homeowners looking at damage prevention. These include: 

  • Preventing the roof from lifting off the building. This can occur during a more serious hurricane, and it devastates your property. To prevent this from occurring, it’s important to work with a roofing professional who understands how to make these modifications. Use corrosion-resistant connectors that are the right size and type for your area. Anchor all of the parts of the home together securely. Connect each truss part or joint with metal connectors or use hurricane clips or straps to connect roof rafters to the top of the exterior wall plate. 
  • Reinforce the home. For instance, gables are particularly vulnerable, so you should reinforce them by bracing the gable to the attic floor. Brace the roof trusses as well.
  • Keep the roof sheathing intact. Use 5/8 inch plywood when you’re making the roof decking, fasten the sheathing with #8 screws about 4 inches apart near the edges and eaves, so they are more secure. Other screws should be no more than 6 inches apart. If you live in an area with high winds, it’s better to screw in the roofing and tape the seams with rubber tape so that the roofing stays in place and does not let water in. If you use roofing felt, stagger the overlaps and use a double layer of felt. 
  • Use high quality shingles that are rated for hurricanes or for the maximum winds in your area. Place roof cement under the shingles to adhere them, especially at the roof eaves, gable end edges, and the hip and ridges. These shingles can be more expensive, but they often come with a long roof warranty and the peace of mind you get from knowing that your roof is better-protected during a hurricane. 
  • Use roofing materials that resist saltwater, such as stainless fasteners.
  • Use baffled and soffit vents in the attic to prevent pressure from building up.

To get helpful information about gutters for your home, download our free gutter guide.

Using preventative strategies may not save your home from all damage, but it could mean the different between a severely-damaged roof and a roof that can be repaired and that continues to protect your home’s interior during a hurricane. 

Gutter guards
Water damage is just as problematic as wind during a hurricane, if not more so.

How Can You Prevent Water Damage? 

A hurricane involves both wind and rain, and for those who live near the coast, it can also involve flooding due to storm surges. There can be serious damage due to flooding. As a homeowner, how can you prepare for all of the water that will come from a hurricane? 

Completing the wind damage prevention tips above will also help reduce water damage, as many of them secure your structure against both wind and rain. 

Make sure that all of your regular water management systems around your home are intact. This includes having clear drains and foundation drainage so that water will move away from your home.

Choose furniture that is lightweight and easy to move. Rust-resistant metal, plastic, concrete, and stone also resist moisture damage. Laminate, cellulose, and wood will all suffer damage from the water.

When you’re looking at insulation for a home renovation, know that foam or closed-cell rigid insulation has less water and mold damage than other insulation. Fiberglass insulation may resist damage itself, but it acts like a sponge for water, so you will generally need to remove it after a flood.

Wallpaper can make it harder for the walls to dry in your home. While water-resistant paint sounds promising, it generally traps the moisture inside the walls after a flood.

Any time you add to your home, add on with materials that will recover well from flooding. For instance, you could add moisture-resistant flooring such as concrete or stone and add a wooden subfloor or steel beams that are resistant to decay. However, keep in mind that any kind of wood can suffer damage from mold, even if it does not decay easily. On the walls, choose elements such as steel, glass, concrete, or stone as well. Avoid regular drywall with paper and choose paperfaced gypsum wallboard, water-resistant fiber-reinforced gypsum wallboard or panels, or cement board instead.

Dry floodproofing is what people usually think about when they consider floodproofing their home. These techniques help you prevent water from entering your home in the first place. Dry floodproofing techniques include moving utilities, installing pumps, anchoring the building, strengthening walls, raising the utility services and equipment above flood level, and improving the foundation drainage. You can also add backwater valves in your drains to prevent them from backing up and sending water into the home. These dry floodproofing techniques work best when water is not expected to rise more than a few inches. Otherwise, pressure will build up and the techniques used to floodproof will generally allow water in anyway. Unfortunately, if the water becomes too high and the pressure is too intense, then the walls and floors of the home can buckle.

To prevent pressure from building up in your home and to prevent damage, you could consider wet floodproofing. According to the extension service, “Wet floodproofing is a design method that allows water to move in the enclosed parts of a home’s lower area, such as the crawlspace or an unoccupied area, and then out when water recedes.” The materials used in this floodproofing method can get wet and can easily be restored, unlike typical home-building materials. The home must be designed to drain and dry. In order for this technique to work, you also need to move all electrical equipment into higher parts of the home as well.

If it’s possible to landscape your garden to prevent flooding and local building codes allow it, you could consider adding a levee or a floodwall. In any case, you can make sure that your landscaping encourages water to move away from the home.

If your home is in a very flood-prone area and seems to get damaged every time there is a smaller storm or a flood, you could consider elevating it to prevent it from experiencing flooding. In many parts of the world, raised houses are the norm on the coast. To do this, you would need to work with a structural engineer who can re-engineer your home so that water will pass around and under it rather than moving through the home. This prevents water pressure from building up and damaging the home. 

What Does Hurricane-Proofing Mean for Your Home?

Hurricane-proofing your home does not mean that you will avoid damage entirely. However, it does mean that damage will likely be reduced. This will help your home and your family reduce losses and improve your recovery from a hurricane.

At Harry Helmet, we’re here to help you manage and protect your home. From new roofs to new gutters, we provide the home renovations that you need to keep your home safe. Would you like to know more about our gutter guards, roofing, and other home products? Schedule a free estimate today.


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