Retrofitting Your Home for a Hurricane: Additional Planning
There’s more to consider when hurricane-proofing a home than just its structure.
Here are some other things to think about when undertaking a hurricane retrofit.
Porches, Patios & Attached Structures
Porches that aren’t properly attached to your home or optimized for hurricane winds can become projectiles that cause damage to your home, and if they’re attached to the roof, can also rip open weak points that can put your home at risk.
Aluminum structures are often not built to withstand hurricane winds, and decorative posts are often not up to hurricane code. But regular maintenance and some upgrades can help strengthen your structures.
It’s important to note that if sides are open, wind can add more uplift pressure to the roof from below. A professional can help you determine how much potential wind pressure to account for. If there are doors or windows, impact-resistant designs from market-leader CGI Windows offer firm, stylish options. Properly fastened shutters can also help keep the storm out.
The posts that hold up the structure can be reinforced at the top connecting to the roof, and at the bottom connecting to the ground. Nails through the roof will not hold well against strong winds. Look for heavier, durable connecting clips or threaded rods. If there are only small clips in place, you may need several per post. You can look up the type of clip to be sure how much force it can hold. Many suppliers market hurricane resistant structures specifically for this purpose.
Chimneys can be a major vulnerability, with different hazards depending on the material its made of and its placement.
Metal chimneys can rust in the rain. Similarly, wooden structures can rot or soften, and also attract termites. Concrete, stone and brick can crack and leak, and any damage will likely need to be evaluated by a professional.
Check your chimney to see if its loose and for evidence of a firm connection. Only trust nails that are thick, firmly in place and at least 2.5 inches long.
Chimneys along the sides of a home should be firmly attached with hurricane straps to the roof where they meet to avoid it detaching and toppling over. Straps can also help connect chimneys atop the roof, if you attach them to the roof frame from inside. Place them at every corner and on the studs. If there isn’t framing available to attach the straps, the best thing to do is add more.
Air conditioners, generators, and other attached equipment can cause major damage not only to your home (from potentially being thrown into it), but it can also damage or ruin the equipment, which can lead to a long wait to get electricity, air conditioning or other basic needs restored.
Hurricane clips should fasten equipment firmly to the wall or ground. The weight of some larger appliances may help them fight wind alone. Otherwise, be sure clips are placed to help fight oncoming wind from any angle.
Because they can rip off and cause damage or even punctures in the rooftop, solar panels can be a hazard. It helps to keep them away from rooftop edges.
Solar panels that are the same angle as the roof’s slope are generally better suited to withstand hurricane winds without putting extra pressure on the roof. However, those tilted at different angles will be vulnerable in high winds.
If your panels are more efficient at a different angle than your roof, try to find panels that can be tilted before the storm, or that can be removed and brought inside. Again, check with your solar panel provider or contractor to ensure that they are installed in a safe manner.
Anything in your yard or around your home, including children’s toys, satellite dishes, or outdoor furniture, should either be secured or brought in before a storm to avoid them being picked up and causing more damage.
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