August 25, 2017 in Home Equity

11 ways to protect your home against hurricane damage

The ferocious strength of a storm like Hurricane Harvey can turn a home inside out and leave it in ruins. But a homeowner can minimize hurricane damage with many common home improvement products.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, has predicted a busier than average Atlantic hurricane season, with 14 to 19 named storms likely in 2017. Five to nine of those could become hurricanes, including two to five major hurricanes with winds in excess of 110 mph.

Harvey, with winds up to 120 mph, is in that group.

Bracing a home for the worst that the season might bring doesn’t have to be expensive.

“There are a lot of things you can do that are meaningful, affordable and make a difference,” says Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, or FLASH.

Here are ways to avoid costly hurricane damage. Consider tapping your home equity or taking out a personal loan to fund major improvements.

A sheet of plywood and a handful of nails have stood out as one of the most popular ways to prepare for a storm. Homeowners typically “board up” a day or two before and attach 5/8-inch or 1/2-inch plywood to the windows of their homes.

Polymer-based, hurricane-strength fabric panels add trampoline-like cushion to windows and doors and repel flying debris without sacrificing visibility in a storm. Panels are anchored to the edges of windows and doorways with grommets and wing nuts or clips and pins, making them easy to install.

Most homes are built to hold the roof up, not down. To correct for the upward and lateral lifting forces of hurricane winds, builders install hurricane straps, clips and anchor belts, which can help keep a home’s roof intact.

In a correct setup, galvanized straps securely attached to the walls and foundation keep the roof tied into the entire house.

While there is little a homeowner can do to prepare for a hurricane’s 20-foot storm surge on the coast, there are several products that can help protect inland residents from minor flooding.

Sandbags remain the least expensive option (many counties give them away for free), but they are heavy and it takes hundreds of bags and lots of help to make a solid barrier around a home.

Other types of flood barriers include powder-filled absorbent door dams, water-filled tubes, expanding bags and portable walls that can be quickly deployed in the event of a flood.

Corrugated steel or aluminum shutters bolted over your windows and doors are one of the best ways to protect a home from flying debris. Storm panels vary in thickness and attach to window exteriors with a system of tracks and bolts. When tracks are installed permanently around the house, the shutters can be attached quickly and easily when a storm is approaching.

With the push of a button or the crank of a handle, roll-down hurricane shutters are the easiest home protectors to deploy before a storm. The shutters are typically made of double-walled aluminum slats that interlock, and they roll up into a narrow box that sits above the window or doorway.

Available in all sizes and colors, they are usually custom-fitted to your home.

Your garage door is one of the parts of your home most vulnerable to high wind. Failure of a garage door can allow the full force of a hurricane to threaten the roof or walls.

While some newer garage doors are rated for winds of up to 150 mph, many older ones should be braced. Vertical bracing systems are typically made of aluminum and are anchored above the garage door and to the floor to provide a backbone of extra support.

Want to skip the hassle and closed-in feeling of shutters altogether? Consider installing hurricane-impact windows. The glass is usually 3/8-inch thick and features a film coating similar to the safety glass used in vehicle windshields. If the windows crack or are smashed, the glass will stay embedded in the frame.

Housed on the sides of doors or windows when not in use, these retractable aluminum shutters unfold like an accordion to protect your home’s openings during a storm. The shutters can provide protection against not only wind but also forced entry. They are usually available in a variety of colors.

Bahama shutters are hinged at the top of the window and angle outward from the wall with the help of telescoping arms. The support arms typically are adjustable from 60- to 90-degree angles.

The shutters protect against wind while providing light, ventilation and privacy control in everyday use. They often are used in sunny and coastal environments and can give a home a distinct, tropical appearance.

As a traditional style of window protection, colonial shutters attach to the window’s side walls and fold inward to close. Permanently fixed to the window frame and held open by a clip system, they can quickly and easily be closed and secured with a brace bar when a storm approaches.