Is Your Home Protected From Hurricane Damage?

Gable End Walls
Does your home have a gabled roof? If so, the end wall of your home takes a tremendous beating during a hurricane. If not properly braced, it can collapse, causing significant damage. However, gable end walls are easy to strengthen and deserve to be a high priority on your retrofit list.

Typically, gable end trusses are directly attached to the top of gable end walls. The bottom of the truss must be securely nailedto the top of the wall and braced to adjacent trusses. This prevents wind from pushing or pulling the gable end at its critical point, where the gable truss is connected along the gable wall. Without adequate bracing, the end wall may be destroyed during hurricane winds.

To secure your gable end wall, fasten eight-foot long braces to the bottom chord of the gable truss and the adjacent trusses with sixteen-penny (16d) nails. The braces should be perpendicular to the truss, spaced at a maximum of four feet on center. In addition, be sure to tie back the gable truss with at least one eight-foot long brace, along the ridge of the roof, to several of the interior trusses as shown in the detail.

Roof to Top of Wall Connection
Areas where the roof framing meets the top of stud walls are normally covered by dry wall on the inside and by wall cladding and soffit board on the outside. To install straps or hurricane clips, remove the roof sheathing around the perimeter of the roof to reveal the top of the wall. You may also need to remove the soffit and exterior cladding to reveal the top 12 to 18 inches of the wall. In addition, if the exterior cladding is brick veneer, you may need to remove small sections of brick as needed.

If your roof has trusses, make sure you tie them to the wall by either anchoring to the top plate and then the top plate to the wall stud, or strapping the truss directly to the wall stud. The figures shown illustrate ways you can anchor the roof to the top of the wall of wood or masonry homes with straps or connectors.

Bracing Your Garage Door
Because of their width, double-wide garage doors are more susceptible to wind damage than single doors. Unless you have a tested hurricane resistant door, the wind may force it out of the roller track especially if the track is light weight or some of the anchor bolts are not in place. This occurs because the door deflects too much under excessive wind pressure and fails.

To secure your garage door:
  • Check with your local government building official to see if there are code requirements for garage doors in your area.
  • Check with your local building supplier or garage door retailer to see if a retrofit kit is available for your garage door.
  • You should probably reinforce your double-wide garage door at their weakest points. This involves installing horizontal and/or vertical bracing onto each panel, using wood or light gauge metal girts bolted to the door millions.
  • You may also need heavier hinges and stronger end and vertical center supports for your door.
  • If you decide to retrofit your garage door with a kit that allows you to operate the door after it is installed, make sure the door is balanced by lowering it about halfway and letting go. If the door goes up or down, the springs will need adjusting. Note: Since the springs are dangerous, only a professional should adjust them.
  • If you are unable to retrofit your garage door with a kit specifically designed for your door, you can purchase garage door retrofit kits to withstand hurricane winds at your local building supply store. Also, check to see if the supplier can do the installation.
Doors
Your home has either double or single entry doors. If they are solid wood or hollow metal they probably can resist wind pressures and hurricane debris. However, if you are not sure whether they are strong enough, take these precautions:

Install head and foot bolts on the inactive door of double entry doors.

Make sure your doors have at least three hinges and a dead bolt security lock which has a minimum one inch bolt throw length. Since double entry doors fail when their surface bolts break at the header trim or threshold, check the connections at both places. Be sure the surface bolt extends into the door header and through the threshold into the subfloor.Windows and Patio Door Protection In the following section, we present several viable ways to protect your windows and doors against damage during a hurricane.

We are often asked whether masking tape or any other type of tape placed across the glass will provide protection against storm debris the unequivocal answer is NO. Hurricanes are devastating forces of nature and more substantial protection is required to withstand their wrath.

Window/Patio Door Shutters
One way to protect a home from damage in windstorms is to install impact-resistant shutters over all large windows and glass doors. Not only do they protect doors and windows from wind-borne objects, but they can reduce damage caused by sudden pressure changes when a window or door is broken.

The easiest designs are those that simply cover the opening with a structural panel such as plywood. In past hurricanes, many homeowners, upon returning, have noticed their temporary plywood shutters blew off because they were not adequately fastened. If you have a wood-frame house, use adequate fasteners to attach the panels over the openings when a hurricane approaches. Have these temporary shutters stored and ready to use since building supply stores generally sell out of these materials quickly during a hurricane warning. If your home is made with concrete blocks, however, you will have to install anchoring devices well in advance.

The APA - The Engineered Wood Association offers a series of Hurricane Shutter Designs. They include:
  • Design 1: Shutters for Wood-Frame Buildings
  • Design 2: Shutters for Masonry Block Structures, Barrel Bolt Latch Supports
  • Design 3: Shutters for Masonry Block Structures, Steel or Aluminum Angle and Screw Supports
  • Design 4: Shutters for Masonry Block Structures, Shutters Attached to Outside Wall with Permanently Mounted Brackets
  • Design 5: Shutters for Masonry Block Structures, For Openings Wider than 8 Feet
Each design is available from APA - The Engineered Wood Association.

If your residence has permanent shutters, evaluate their effectiveness. Manufacturers are responsible for testing their shutters up to the standards necessary to resist wind forces and wind-borne debris. Some shutters are very flexible, especially those that roll up.

If struck by a rigid piece of debris, shutters may bend and break the window. To determine whether your shutter can resist this impact, gently lean against it and see if it yields. You can also inspect your shutters to see if they are properly attached to the house and will not fly off during a storm by inspecting the shutter connectors for obvious excessive wear or missing connectors. Ask the shutter manufacturer for proper installation criteria.

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