As spring winds down and we look toward summer, we can look forward to some hot sunny days. You can bet there will be some rain and wind in our future, too. In a recent blog, I mentioned that your homeowner’s insurance company may offer you a discount if you take certain wind mitigation steps.
But wind mitigation’s savings go beyond just lowered insurance premiums. Wind mitigation is a step that may help save your home. Before the summer storms arrive with full force, take a few minutes to make sure your home is secure. The Texas Division of Emergency Management has put together a booklet to help you identify some of the ways you can mitigate your risks in the event of a storm. Here are just a few of the highlights.
What is Wind Mitigation Anyway?
Wind mitigation includes all the steps taken to lessen the damage to your home caused by high winds, particularly hurricanes. Several private and public organizations have invested in extensive research to develop the best ways to protect your home from wind damage. While these efforts can’t guarantee the safety of you or your home, they do offer you a proactive approach to dealing with whatever weather nature throws at you. You can’t change the weather, but you can choose how well you prepare for it.
What Can I Do to Protect My Home?
Hopefully, your home already has many of these wind mitigation features. After 2001, Texas’ building code required that new home constructions include many of these wind mitigation elements. However, it never hurts to double-check and make sure that those features are still working effectively. If your home doesn’t have the most up-to-date wind mitigation features, then you may want to add them. Take a look at the list of wind mitigation features below and see if there are steps you can take to improve your home’s wind resistance.
- If Your Roof Isn’t Hip, Get it Retrofit. Gabled roofs can receive 40% more pressure from the wind than hip roofs and have been known to collapse. While you may not be ready to redesign your roof completely to improve its strength in a storm, a gabled roof can be reinforced to help it hold up against a strong wind. If your home has a gabled roof that has not been retrofit, make this a high priority on your hurricane preparedness checklist.
- Check Your Topping. Age and ratings matter when it comes to your roof covering. H-rated asphalt shingles are designed to withstand winds up to 150 mph. While A-rated shingles can only handle 60 mph “breezes.” Older roofs tend to perform worse due to wear. If your roof has weathered several severe storms, has a low rating, or is more than ten years old, then a new roof should be on your checklist too. A well-installed metal roof offers extremely high wind resistance. As interest in metal roofs increases, homeowners have a wide variety of metal roofing materials—that meet the strict Texas Building codes—from which to choose.
- Get your Roof Covering Nailed Down. Once your home’s roof deck fails even partially, the house becomes a major loss. Your roof deck should be attached to the framing with nails, never with staples. Nails should be closely spaced. Skimping on this major line of defense for your home is not an option.
- Keep the Lid On. In addition to attaching your roof’s deck to the frame of your home, the entire roof structure should be attached to the exterior walls of your home using hurricane clips or straps. Adding the extra connections between roof and walls distributes the force of a strong wind and helps prevent a concentrated gust from ripping your roof from the top of your house.
- Seal Everything Up Tight. Secondary water resistance is a wind mitigation feature that adds a layer of protection between your roof covering and plywood sheathing. This layer is designed to keep water out in the event the roof’s shingles are blown off. The secondary water-resistant layer may be a full sheet underlayment or tape that covers each joint of your roof’s decking. This mitigation feature is usually added when a new roof is installed. Sometimes a sprayed-in foam can be used to waterproof inside a home’s attic until an exterior layer can be added.
- Shutter the Windows. Impact resistant glass isn’t enough to fully protect your home against hurricane-strength winds. Hurricane shutters offer the best protection and the highest insurance discounts for homes located in high wind zones.
- If It Isn’t a Solid Wall, It’s A Weakness. Your garage door, as well as other doors and openings, are weak points that a strong wind can exploit. If your home is in a risk zone for hurricanes, your best option is to install hurricane-rated doors. Bracing can be added to existing garage doors if replacement isn’t an option. Keep in mind that hurricane-rated garage doors are heavy and your electric openers won’t work if the power is out. Keep a supply of plywood on hand for openings that can’t be replaced, shuttered, or reinforced.