Is Your Home Protected From Hurricane Damage?

Hurricanes are well known for causing damage to homes and property, for destroying family keepsakes, and for disrupting family life. But, as this brochure explains, you can take action to protect your home. First, though, it helps to learn a little more about the nature of hurricanes. These large, slow moving storms are often accompanied by rain as well as flooding, storm surges, and wind that can come from different directions while circling the eye of the storm. As a result, the wind affects different homes in profoundly different ways, depending on their design, location, and neighboring structures.

Among other things, the wind can collapse windows and doors, rip off roof sheathing (decking) and destroy gable end walls. Over-hanging eaves and rakes, extended awnings, open porches, and other features that tend to trap air beneath them are particularly susceptible to damage. Wind-borne debris can break windows and damage roof coverings and walls. With or without the help of wind blown objects, the wind can break through a garage door, window, or door on the windward side of the house and move inside, causing uplift forces to more than double. In fact, these powerful forces, which are illustrated below, can literally lift the roof right off of the house.

Take the Right Precautions

The most important precaution you can take to reduce damage to your home and property is to protect the areas where wind can enter. According to recent wind technology research, it’s important to strengthen the exterior of your house so wind and debris do not tear large openings in it. You can do this by protecting and reinforcing these four critical areas:
  • Roof
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Garage doors
A great time to start securing — or retrofitting — your house is when you are making other improvements or adding an addition. In both cases, your local building code will require that your work conform to certain requirements. And, although you may not need to comply with current code requirements on the rest of your house, this may be a good opportunity to do so. Remember: building codes reflect the lessons experts have learned from past catastrophes. Contact your local building code official to find out what requirements are necessary for your home improvement projects.

Final Note
The following contains a check list of home improvement projects. If you do them correctly, you may greatly reduce the chance of hurricane damage. However, nothing can guarantee total protection. Please follow the instructions of your local authorities if told to evacuate, even if you have completed these projects.
Also, remember that these guidelines are broad and you should consult with a registered design professional about specialized items. In addition, while you or a building contractor can perform some of the procedures in this guide, someone with an engineering background should oversee others. For example, only someone with engineering expertise can design a roof sheathing fastening schedule and determine the correct way to connect the roof to the wall.

If your house is in an unobstructed location or within 1500 feet of open water, you are more susceptible to damages caused by high winds and should consider this when planning your home improvement project. Also remember that mobile homes, outbuildings, barns, fences, screen enclosures, carports, awnings and canopies can produce wind-borne debris that can tear openings into your house, letting in damaging rain and wind. In addition, objects such as garbage cans, bicycles, lawn furniture, tree limbs, landscaping pebbles and small rocks can become wind-borne, damaging roofs, walls and windows. By properly protecting and maintaining your home and property, you can minimize potential damage to your neighbors’ and your property.
You can inspect your house to see if retrofitting is necessary. If you are uncertain whether your house needs certain changes, or have any questions about your ability to inspect your house, call a qualified professional architect, engineer, building contractor, or your local building department.

Either you or a building contractor can build and install temporary shutters on windows and coverings for patio and entry doors, strengthen and stiffen garage doors, and install heavy-duty door hardware. However, an experienced installer should install impact resistant doors and windows or approved hurricane shutters in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations. And a roofing professional can best determine when you should replace an aged roof. You will also need a professional to determine how well a door or window frame is anchored to the exterior walls.

Your local building department can be a good source to get information about retrofitting projects. And remember, although many of the retrofitting projects shown in this brochure do not require building permits, you should contact your local building official to make sure the retrofitting measures you are intending to undertake do not require a building permit. Your local building official can help you with the permit process if you require one.

Do You Need a New Asphalt Roof?

Sooner or later, all roofing needs to be replaced. If a roof covering is old and worn, patching or limited repairs won’t help. A roof tends to wear uniformly in most parts of the country, and even the best roofing materials will eventually succumb to weathering. Roofing in extreme wind and heat states like Florida will tend to have shorter life-spans than in other places.

How can you recognize when your roof has problems? Twice a year, do the following:
  • On a sunny day, go up to your attic and use a flashlight to inspect for stains caused by leaks.
  • Indoors, look for cracked paint, discolored gypsum board, and peeling wallpaper as signs of damaged roof areas.
  • Check downspouts for signs of excessive granule loss. Although most shingle manufacturers guarantee their products to last 20 years, many roofs with standard asphalt shingles over 15 years old need reroofing, especially in extreme weather climates.
  • Use binoculars to inspect the roof from the ground, looking for cracked, curled or missing shingles, excessive loss of protective mineral granules, loose seams or deteriorated flashing, and other visible signs of roof problems.
  • BEWARE: Do not walk on the roof. It is dangerous and may damage the shingles.
Local ordinances allow homeowners to place asphalt shingles over old shingles. However, for a more secure roof during hurricanes and other high winds, we recommend removing the old shingles before installing the new ones.

If you decide to remove all the old shingles, also remove the underlying building paper to expose the roof sheathing. Inspect the old roof sheathing to determine whether it is rotted, warped, or unsound. If so, replace these sections with sheathing material of the same thickness.

Reroofing is also a great opportunity to inexpensively secure the entire roof. Here’s what you do:
  • Remove the bottom row of roof sheathing at the eave lines.
  • Check to see if the roof is fastened to the top of the exterior wall with metal hurricane straps or clips that provide the proper measure of strength and safety. (The common practice of toe-nailing the trusses or rafters often is not sufficient to hold a roof in place in high winds.) These clips or straps are usually very difficult to see from the attic because of insulation.
  • If not properly fastened, install a hurricane clip/strap where each roof rafter meets the exterior wall.
  • Refasten the roof sheathing removed in step #1, and fasten roof sheathing along the roof corners, ridges, and eaves, where wind pressure has a tendency to grow more intense, by installing additional eight-penny ring shank nails or #8 screws four inches apart. Be careful not to use too many nails or screws, which can split the plywood and weaken your roof. Sheathing which is not located on the edges or ridges of the roof should have eight-penny nails or #8 screws at every six inches.
  • Install roofing felt paper using the double layer application method with tin type fasteners and new shingles with six nails per shingle. For additional strength, secure the tabs of the shingles with quick-setting asphalt cement.
Will Retrofitting Your Asphalt Shingle Roof Be Enough?
Shingles are usually not designed to resist hurricane force winds. They come with integral locking tabs or factory-applied adhesives that on occasion do not adhere properly to the underlying shingle because of cold weather installation, uneven surfaces or any number of other reasons. For increased wind resistance, have a qualified person inspect several shingle tabs to see if the adhesive has engaged. If not, use a quick-setting asphalt cement to bond them together.

To cement the shingle tabs to the underlying shingles, place two spots of quick-setting asphalt cement about the size of a quarter under each tab with a putty knife or caulking gun. Press the tab into the adhesive. Be sure to cement all tabs throughout the roof, being careful not to bend them farther than necessary when applying the adhesive. Replace any damaged shingles immediately.

You can get additional information on asphalt roof shingles by contacting the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association.
  • Other Roof Covering Products
  • Wood Shakes and Shingles
  • Clay or Concrete Tile
  • Metal Shingles
  • Standing Seam Metal Roofs
Clay tiles are brittle, and can easily be chipped or broken by wind-borne debris. In fact, the tiles themselves can become wind-borne.

You can have a more secure roof by making sure that all shingles/tiles/ panels are fastened down tightly and by replacing the ones that are missing or loose. Hiring a roofing professional to evaluate your roof covering is a good option for the novice homeowner.

At this time, there are no cost-effective retrofit measures which we can recommend if you have these types of roof coverings. Please contact the roof covering manufacturers listed in the Appendix that are associated with your type of roof for additional information.

Attach Roof Sheathing with Adhesive
You can also improve the uplift resistance of the roof deck from the attic — without removing the roof covering. This is how:
  • Using a caulking gun, apply a 1/4 -inch bead of wood adhesive along the intersection of the roof deck and the roof support element (rafter or truss chord) on both sides. Make sure that the adhesive is in contact with both the deck and roof support elements.
  • At places where you have limited access to either side of the roof support, such as the gable end of the house, use quarter-round pieces of wood which run the full length of the roof support. Apply the adhesive along the two adjacent sides of the wood block. Press the wood pieces onto the intersection making sure the adhesive is in contact with the deck and roof support elements. The wood pieces can be tack-nailed or clamped in place to ensure good contact between the surfaces.
  • Attics are typically tight, enclosed areas with poor ventilation. When applying the adhesive, be sure to follow the directions for proper application and ventilation.
  • According to static pressure tests1, using the wood adhesive can increase the wind uplift resistance of the plywood roof sheathing by as much as three times the conventional method of securing the sheathing with nails. A variety of wood adhesives are available at local hardware and building supply stores. In particular, look for products which are certified as AFG-01. Please ask your local hardware expert if other products are available that could provide the same strength and properties as a wood adhesive.
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