Hurricanes and Houses;
Don't Mix Unless You've Got a Hurricane Proof Home
A hurricane proof home is clearly warranted if you live in the hurricane prone regions of the world. They're also useful in areas where there are severe thunderstorms that spawn tornadoes. So whether you're undertaking renovations to an existing home or building a new home, you'll find it in your best interest to learn all you can about this topic.
Protect your house and it will protect your family.
If your home has been hit hard by hurricanes or other types of severe weather events in the past, you'll obviously want to prevent this happening again.
So how do you change your existing home into a hurricane proof home?
Below are a number of tips that will help you to protect your home.
Strengthening your garage door is the first step towards making a hurricane proof home
In up to 80% of cases, the garage door is one of the first places in your home that winds are able to gain entry since the surface area exposed to the wind is large in comparison to other parts of the house.
Obviously if you have a wider garage door, the higher the chances wind damage will occur.
So in order to minimise this you need to make sure that your garage door is certified as being "impact resistant".
If it's not then you can either reinforce it by placing steel or plywood horizontally across each panel and then obtain heavy duty door bolts, hinges and other supports from garage door manufactures.
So if you're wondering whether to reinforce or replace the garage door entirely, the latter is a much better option. These impact resistant hurricane garage doors typically cost between $900-$1400. I think it is much wiser to replace a flimsy garage door than to wait for a hurricane to remove it for you. Yes...I know that I stated the obvious:)
When a hurricane strength wind destroys a garage door, the wind is then able to penetrate through the rest of your home (since it will force doors open). The winds can then easily funnel throughout the house and turn your furniture and other objects into missiles.
This flying debris can smash against walls and easily shatter closed windows. It sometime even lifts the roof completely leaving the rest of the house exposed to the full brunt of the hurricane.
This of course leads me to the next point.
A hurricane proof home won't have its roof torn off
during a strong hurricane
© Marje Cannon (istockphoto.com)
Whatever you do, ensure that you have a good look in your attic to see if your roof is fitted with hurricane straps. These hurricane straps are made of galvanised metal and are located where the roof meets the support beams. If they aren't there you should try and get a qualified builder to attach them to your roof.
Most homes made before the 1990's in the United States weren't designed with the intention to protect the roof from hurricane strength winds. Hurricane straps are extremely important as they significantly strengthen your roof by holding it to the walls of your home.
I should mention this as well...also, make sure that your roof tiles are joined with mortar and held in place with at least two screws for each tile.
If you do have a gabled roof then unfortunately you'll increase your chances of suffering some roof damage. So what's a gabled roof you may ask?
Gabled roofs are a pyramid shaped section located on the very ends of the house. It looks much like the letter 'A'.
Most gabled roofing is fastened to the trusses only by plywood which is totally inadequate during a hurricane. So it is critical to determine if your roof's bracing is sufficiently strong to withstand the fury of a hurricane.
So how do you check this? You need to go into the attic and check your roof's bracing. It will be extremely dusty up there so you'll need to wear protective googles, a dust mask, sturdy shoes and clothing that completely covers your body. If there's no floor in the attic you should get a qualified builder in to inspect it for you.
If you're determined to check the roof's bracing yourself, make sure that you only walk on the wood joists. If you notice that your house strusses aren't nailed in properly to the plywood (or whatever sheathing you have) then you need to rectify this before hurricane season. You can strengthen your gabled roofing further by installing gable end bracing. Ask a qualified builder how to do this if you want to take this step.
Another idea (although somewhat more expensive) that will bring your house a little closer to being a hurricane proof home, is to minimise the distance that the roof and gutter edge extends past the walls. This is known as the soffit. If the soffit is large, then the winds from a hurricane can easily manoveur underneath and lift this portion of the roof exposing the rest of the roof and underlying walls to the elements.
So what else can you do?...You could get your hands on:
Hurricane proof windows
Hurricane proof windows can be made to fit almost
any window and can be placed on the exterior or the interior part of the primary window. They are a little more expensive than buying
conventional single pane windows.
Their main function is to minimise the impact of debris smashing through your window pane as well as to prevent leaks when the rain is coming
in sideways. Remember, you only need one window to be smashed and then this allows the hurricane force winds to enter your home and cause havoc.
Hopefully, you won't be put in a situation where you are in the path of strong hurricanes like Andrew, Mitch or even Katrina. But if you ever are, you now know what to do in order to set up a hurricane proof home.
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