Hurricane season began in June, but here in Florida, August and September are when things really start to heat up, and September is often the busiest month, storm-wise. As a home inspector, one of the services I provide is to highlight opportunities for homeowners to protect their homes from hurricane damage.
Sadly the last three years have been especially tough in this state, with storms like Irma and Michael doing millions of dollars of damage to Florida alone. And as these storms have demonstrated, simply adhering to building codes (which can vary county by county) is often not enough to protect a structure from hurricane damage. In many cases, certain hurricane-related building code requirements only apply to those homes in close proximity to the water. But a hurricane doesn’t stop being a hurricane one mile inland.
One of my jobs as a home inspector is to root out weaknesses before a storm finds them and makes them obvious. I can tell you your window seals are vulnerable before the wind and rain take advantage of them and you’re left with rotting drywall and soggy belongings. Based on the year your house was made, the type of roof it has and its condition, I can tell you what you need to do to ensure that the next big storm doesn’t lift that roof off entirely.
After looking at your house, here are some suggestions I might make:
Invest in hurricane straps: Certain types of roofs are more vulnerable to wind than you would expect. It doesn’t take a category 5 storm to separate a roof from the rest of the house; just enough wind accessing and exploiting weaknesses in the design. Hurricane straps reinforce the connection between the roof and the home’s foundation.
Similarly, porches, garages, carports and decks can be very vulnerable to coming detatched in high winds. I can tell you where and how to tie them down.
Protect your windows: Not only are windows an important part of keeping your belongings dry, broken windows also increase the risk of roof detachment by creating added pressure from the inside out. Contrary to common practice, an X of masking tape does nothing to protect your windows from storm damage. Plywood is effective but difficult and time-consuming to make, store and attach properly as a storm approaches.
Fortunately, there are a lot of storm-resistant window products on the market today, whether you opt for high-end reinforced glass or easy-to-use shutters. Even if you already have storm-cessation windows, I can make sure they’ve been installed correctly and are still in good condition.
Ensure drains and pumps are in good working order: Even mild storms can dump loads of water. Sump pumps and other drainage solutions are major tools in protecting your home from devastating flooding. You’ll need an expert eye to spot problems before they happen. That’s what I’m here for.