12 Steps to Get Your House Ready for Hurricane Season 2018
June first is the official start of the 2018 hurricane season for coastal dwellers across America. Although the sky is clear for the time being, this is the perfect opportunity to review your hurricane safety plan and get your home ready to survive the next big storm. Your friends at Home.Loans have given it a lot of thought and come up with these 12 steps you can take right now to be more prepared when the next named storm appears on the radar.
Safeguarding Your Home, Step by Step
Before you do anything -- right now, even -- check your insurance coverage. Make sure you have enough to completely rebuild (should it come to that), and check that your insurance is still covering wind damage in your area. Also, ensure you have some kind of flood insurance in place if you’re at the slightest risk of flooding during a hurricane. It may sound dramatic, but the remainder of these steps are completely useless if your house blows away or is severely damaged and you can’t afford to make the necessary repairs.
Once you’re certain you have enough coverage in place, and a policy that will cover flood water and sewer backups (never assume your homeowner’s insurance will cover these things, since most don’t), you can get down to the nitty gritty of buffing up your home so it survives the next big storm more or less intact. Follow these steps for the best success:
1. Stock up on supplies for the inevitable repairs. When a hurricane strikes, it’s never a question of “if,” but of “how bad?” Now is the time to buy supplies that will help you get your house through the first few weeks of hurricane recovery. Things like tarps, plywood, nails, and screws will store forever and are also the first to go when a hurricane looms.
2. Trim trees and shrubs. The best time to trim the trees is before they land in your living room. Do it now so they can heal from the damage, and so that you have time to remove the debris that comes along with that project. After all, dead wood is a projectile in a storm.
3. Give your gutters a check. Go around the outside of your home and check that your gutters are both secure and clean. Make sure your downspouts divert water away from your foundation. If they don’t, pick up some downspout extensions long enough to get the water moving on down the road. This will help prevent flooding when the rain comes in buckets.
4. Caulk everything. You can further prevent water entering your home by re-caulking your windows, doors, and any openings that let wires or pipes pass into your house. Although the chances of a lot of water coming in through these small spaces is low, you just never know. If you can upgrade door sweeps and seals, you’re even better off.
5. Solidify your garage door with both vertical and horizontal bracing. Believe it or not, your garage door is pretty flimsy. It’s also a major point of failure when strong winds come through. Instead of letting the next hurricane blow your door out of its track and through your home, brace that door with hurricane-safe door braces. If your budget has a little more room, you could also upgrade to a door that’s built to withstand hurricanes.
6. Install sewer backflow valves to prevent storm water from backing up into your house. By “storm water,” we really mean sewer water mixed with rain water, the obscene putridity of which you’ll thank us for having to never clean out of your basement carpet. When there’s too much water coming down, the entire sewer system can flood, forcing all the water therein to try to find a way out of Dodge. Backflow valves, when properly installed, can protect your home from the whole mess.
7. Anchor everything. If you can’t carry it inside, anchor it firmly. This goes doubly for carports and porch covers because they’ll rip right off in high winds, often taking part of the house with them. Don’t forget your outdoor shed if it’s not on a permanent foundation; that’s something you don’t want to watch fly away.
8. Buy certified storm shutters to protect your home. Windows, gable end attic vents, and even doors with glass in them need to be protected from flying projectiles and strong winds. You can cover them with plywood year after year, but you’ll get better protection and an easier hurricane prep if you install hurricane-certified storm shutters or have them installed by a licensed pro.
9. Do a regular roof inspection. Using a pair of binoculars, scan your roof weekly, biweekly, or monthly to ensure it’s all holding together well and seems solid. If you’ve been considering reroofing, this is a good time to ask your roofer about installing a decking membrane to help prevent a storm-damaged roof from leaking water into your attic during a hurricane.
10. Upgrade old skylights. Skylights are trouble in more ways than one. You can’t really cover them to protect them against hurricane winds, but if you don’t they may leak profusely. The best solution is to upgrade old skylights to modern, hurricane-proof standards.
11. Strap down your roof. In some states, like Florida, roof straps are now mandatory on new construction, but if your home is older or you live somewhere else, it’s a good idea to check that your house has these simple devices installed. They’re essentially thin metal straps that anchor the roof to the frame of your home at multiple points to help even out the stress load of high winds. If you don’t have them, get them. If you don’t know if you need them, call a pro to check.
12. Install a safe room. There are pros and cons to putting in a safe room, but if you ever think you may “shelter in,” this is a must-have safety item. Your safe room should meet FEMA criteria for it to be considered truly “safe.” If you choose a storm shelter instead, ensure it meets ICC 500 criteria.
Paying for Hurricane-Related Upgrades
If you find yourself wondering where you’re going to find the cash to finance all of these hurricane safe steps, you may want to consider a home equity loan or a HELOC. Both products have reasonable rates and allow you to tap your home’s equity for projects just like those outlined above. Home.Loans can help you find the perfect home equity loan for your situation -- so contact the home.loans team today for a free loan consultation.