February 24, 2017
Every region of the country has a unique set of weather-related dangers. Therefore, no one is entirely immune to the need to protect their home and property from the strongest forces of Mother Nature. It is possible to learn from past disasters and take steps to protect your home from future storms, but such lessons can be incredibly costly. It only takes one storm surge or one 150-mph wind gust to demolish a home.
Property owners will be able to avoid these terrible experiences in the first place if they know how to prepare for extreme weather. Weatherproofing techniques vary by region, but many methods for protecting a home from severe weather are universal. Powerful winds, for example, can damage roof shingles and drive debris through doors and windows. It does not matter if the wind is caused by a hurricane, a tornado, or a severe thunderstorm; the result is the same.
Why Broken Windows are Dangerous
The biggest danger from high winds is not that the entire home will blow over, but that its structural integrity will be compromised when a door or window is broken. If the wind rips a door open or drives a branch through a window, the air pressure inside the home will change, and its exterior will become weaker. This could lead to a catastrophe if the roof fails to hold onto the frame – notably common with gabled roofs. This is why so many homes often end up roofless after tornados, even though their walls remain mostly intact.
Impact-Resistant Windows Help Solve This Problem
When homeowners board up their windows and doors before fleeing a hurricane, they are attempting to protect against such pressure-changing breakages. Impact-resistant windows and doors enhance this layer of makeshift protection. With a special laminated layer that protects against shattering, impact-resistant windows may break upon contact with flying objects, but the laminate prevents the glass from shattering. More importantly, it will keep the window sealed so that the air pressure inside the home remains consistent.
Some high-impact windows have a clear plastic layer in between two panes of glass. Not only does this layer guard against shattering in a storm, it also helps keep street noise out and improves the efficiency of a home’s heating and cooling. Since the plastic is completely transparent, it is impossible for anyone to tell that the windows are any different than standard all-glass windows.
Impact-resistant windows are also useful in areas with frequent tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, or straight line winds. In fact, they may be more useful in these regions where weather blows in and out quickly, leaving no time to board up windows and doors.
Other Ways to Protect Windows
Another option for window protection is to install permanent storm shutters. This may seem like the “old-fashioned” way to protect windows from flying debris, but it can still prove effective. Permanent shutters lock down easily and are often more attractive than plywood boards. Another advantage of shutters is that, when closed, they can keep sunlight out or enhance a home’s level of privacy. Reinforcement is an important part of any severe weather strategy. What if an impact-resistant window is broken anyway? No homeowner should rely on one single feature to protect their property from Mother Nature.
Preparing a Storm-Ready Roof
The roof is one of the most vulnerable parts of a home in the midst of a storm. You can make several different improvements to prepare the top of your house for the worst elements. So-called “hurricane straps” are galvanized metal fasteners that wrap around the rafter (the frame of the roof) and then attach to the wall studs (the frame of the walls). Local building codes may require new homes to have such reinforced roofing, but older properties and those in places without such rules may be lacking in this regard. Specialists can retrofit homes with new hurricane straps. This is not a do-it-yourself project, but it is often quite straightforward for a contractor to complete the job (especially in homes with attics).
Wind-resistant shingles, sometimes referred to as “advanced protection shingles,” are specially designed to stand up to high winds. These shingles rely on layers of asphalt, fiberglass, and special adhesive compounds to stand up to weather. This unique roofing is usually tested and then graded on its ability to handle high wind speeds. There are three major “classes” of wind resistant shingles:
- Class D, which can withstand 90 mph gusts
- Class G, which can handle winds up to 120 mph
- Class H, which have an adhesive compound that will stay attached to the roof in wind speeds of up to 150 mph
The shingles that offer the highest level of protection can tolerate heat and cold without losing any of their wind-resistant qualities.
Do Not Overlook the Garage
Garage doors are another vulnerable area that is often overlooked. The wide doors have limited support and are relatively lightweight, making them susceptible to wind damage. Like shingles, garage doors are rated on their ability to withstand wind up to a certain speed. Quality doors are reinforced to ensure they are heavy enough to combat severe hurricane-force winds. This is especially important, because the garage may lack some of the structural traits that make a home able to withstand harsh weather.
Avoiding Storm Surges
In hurricane-affected regions, the worst property damage can result from storm surges. Individuals with homes along the ocean shoreline can help protect themselves against this phenomenon by installing or enhancing a sea wall. Sea walls have a dual purpose. First, the structures (made from cement, metal, stone, or a combination of materials) can repress water if the sea level rises before a major tropical storm or hurricane. Second, these structures protect a home against the natural, gradual erosion that occurs on the ocean shoreline.
By helping to keep the land behind the wall intact, these structures act as a natural barrier between a home and the water. Erosion is the reason some homes that were previously not in danger from storm surges now find their lower levels flooded whenever a hurricane makes landfall.
Financing Storm-Protection Upgrades
These upgrades could help you rest easier knowing that your home is protected from the harshest weather, but the cost of making these improvements can be high. Luckily, some weather-related projects qualify for special PACE financing programs. PACE programs are usually associated with renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Many programs, especially in places like Florida, also cover storm-protection projects such as wind-resistant shingles, shatterproof windows, and the other features we have mentioned in this article. Some of these improvements have energy efficiency as a side effect, and they will all help reduce or eliminate potential repair costs from weather-related damage, making them all money-saving upgrades in the long run.
Find out if your storm preparedness or energy efficiency project is eligible for PACE financing – contact Ygrene at (855) 901-3999; firstname.lastname@example.org.