Purchasing a home is a large investment that can deliver long-term value. However, severe storm damage from dramatic weather events that are increasing in frequency due to climate change can harm your roof, siding, and surroundings. You want to take every possible step to protect your investment while also protecting your family living inside the house.
The best way to keep your home safe is to take preventative measures well before a hurricane, wildfire, drought, or flooding arrives. This post provides effective maintenance tasks, home improvement information, and preparation tips to help you protect your home from storm damage.
Preventing Storm Damage with Basic Household Maintenance
When it comes to active storm damage prevention, we recommend that you incorporate basic household maintenance into your monthly chores.
- Clean your gutters: Keeping your gutters free of debris is the first line of defense against heavy storms. Clean them regularly to ensure water can drain away from the house, and consider installing gutter guards to make that maintenance task even easier.
- Clear leaves off your roof: Use a roof rake, strong blower, or broom to remove dead leaves from your roof to allow the free flow of water and prevent flooding during heavy rains.
- Clean your downspouts: Clogged downspouts can lead to water damage, so remove all debris at the openings where the gutters feed into them, check the outlets for blockages, and rinse them with water from a hose.
- Take care of your yard: Keep your grass short and regularly remove dead vegetation from your yard to help prevent flooding on your property.
Seasonal Maintenance for Storm Damage Prevention
Extreme weather events can leave behind a trail of destruction like a damaged roof, flooding, broken windows, and downed trees. You want to ensure that you are fully prepared for whatever might come your way, so these seasonal tasks can assist you with preventing storm damage.
- Inspect your sump pump: If you have a sump pump, you’ll need this device to be fully operational at a moment’s notice, so you should install a battery backup if your area is prone to power outages during high winds and heavy rainfall.
- Check the seals on your windows: Tap the glass window panes to see if they rattle or move. You can also feel drafts by holding a damp hand around the window seals.
- Check the seals on your doors: Check the weatherstripping around the doors to ensure it is intact and does not allow outside air to get inside.
- Check for loose siding: Since siding can be split, loose, or cracked from age or previous wind damage, a professional inspection can help you know whether you need to replace the entire siding or individual sections before storm season.
- Check for loose shingles: Wind-driven water can work its way under missing or faulty shingles, so you should contact a roofing professional for a thorough inspection.
- Clean your landscaping: Remove any debris that has accumulated in your yard, including fallen leaves, dead grass, broken branches, and other waste, as it can improve water flow during heavy rainfall and prevent flooding. Loose debris can also damage your home if it gets blown airborne during a hurricane or heavy winds.
- Check your fence posts: Inspect the stability of your fence by giving each post a good shake, since the ones that aren’t secure can topple over with strong winds and become projectiles in a hurricane.
- Check trees and branches: You don’t want the wind or drought to make limbs fall on your home, so you should inspect your property regularly for issues, and then cut down and remove any dead and/or dying foliage.
- Inspect your chimney: Ensure that your chimney flashing is in good condition and you can tightly close the chimney when necessary to protect your home from water damage. Signs like leaking from the outside or inside of the chimney, or water stains on the interior of the ceiling call for repair.
How to Prevent Storm Damage with Annual Projects
Once a year, we recommend that you invest the time into some vital maintenance that provides storm damage prevention, though these projects often require the assistance of professionals.
- Review your homeowner's insurance policy: This should be the first stop on your annual home maintenance checklist. You need to ensure that your insurance policy will provide the coverage you need in case an unfortunate circumstance requires filing a claim. You should make an informed coverage decision and be proactive in minimizing insurance costs.
- Trim your trees: Check the trees close to your house and trim any offending branches, or call in an expert to perform this task, especially as they’re prone to drying out in a drought.
- Check your foundation: Previous flooding, a winter freeze, or long-term degradation of concrete can lead to costly leaks or structural damage, so it's best to contact a qualified expert for examination and repairs.
- Check for drainage problems: Review your home’s entire drainage system, as standing water and debris can harm your roof and foundation during hurricanes and other major storms.
- Inspect your roof: An annual roof inspection increases the life of your roof and enables troubleshooting to remedy any issues.
- Install wildfire-resistant landscaping: Wildfires are extremely damaging to the property and environment, so you should plant moisture-rich foliage and install landscaping materials such as stone, brick, or cement to create a Defensible Space Zone.
- Increase your protection against wildfires: Remove any accumulated vegetative debris and consider using home hardening techniques for roofs, vents, and windows.
- Inspect your generator: A bad storm could potentially lead to a blackout for a few hours or even days, so you need your generator in perfect working condition to protect your food and the livability of your home until power is restored. Even better, consider switching to a battery storage instead of a backup generator for greener, cleaner backup power.
- Install storm shutters: Heavy rains and strong winds can damage your windows, so impact-resistant shutters can help protect your windows against extreme conditions.
- Seal basement walls: Applying a basement sealer can prevent flooding and leaks during hurricanes. Many such solutions are do-it-yourself, although a few may require professional help.
How To Protect Your Home as a Major Storm Approaches
If a potentially devastating weather event is approaching your area, you can prevent storm damage and ensure the safety of your home and family by completing key tasks a few days in advance.
- Secure your outdoor furniture: Pack away all your outdoor decorations and lawn furniture to prevent them from being damaged by a severe storm. If you can’t bring large items indoors, tie them together as best as possible to increase their collective mass.
- Secure furniture that could fall: To prevent tall, heavy furniture like cabinets or bookshelves from falling, anchor them securely and move them away from windows and doors.
- Know how to shut off your utilities: Severe weather can cause power surges and ruptured water and gas lines, so you should locate all your cutoff valves and switches and know how to turn them off in the event of an emergency.
- Identify safe rooms in your home: As part of your overall prevention plan, your family should determine the safest room in the house, usually an interior room without windows.
- Move the cars to safety: Windblown debris during hurricanes and tornadoes can damage your car, so park inside your garage and close the garage door. If you do not have a garage, park your car close to your home on the leeward side of the wind and keep it away from trees and power lines to reduce the risk of damage.
- Secure your plants: Move all potted plants inside the house or garage, and create a small temporary indoor garden where you can take care of them.
- Secure all essential home-related documents: Create a visual record of your home, possessions, and important documents using pictures or videos for insurance purposes in case of damage. Upload the digital files to the cloud, and/or store them on a portable USB flash drive for redundancy
- Keep your electronic devices charged. Focus on communication devices in case the power is out after the storm passes. You could also invest in battery packs or a 12-Volt battery charger that can help you charge your devices from your car when there is a blackout.
- Create a disaster kit: A disaster kit comes in handy during hurricanes, wildfires, or drought, so you should assemble one with essentials like first aid, nonperishable foods, water, and gear that doesn’t require electricity.
- Have an evacuation plan: Your family must have a clear idea of what they should do in case a hurricane, wildfire, or other severe storm forces an evacuation, including what to take, where to travel, and how to communicate if you’re separated.
What Happens to Solar Panels in a Storm?
While it’s normal to worry about your solar panels during bad storms, they are designed to withstand most forms of bad weather. Solar panels are waterproof and can continue generating energy as long as they can absorb sunlight.
Additionally, the quality of your installation services and the condition of your roof determine the ability of your solar panels to withstand extreme weather. If a professional solar company (like Palmetto) installed your solar power system and your roof is in good condition, your solar panels should be okay.
Exceptions do happen though, so you should invest in a maintenance plan with your solar panel installer, and check to see if your panels are covered by your homeowners insurance. You should also review your solar panel warranty to see what types of repairs and coverage might be included.
Tips for Storm Damage Prevention
While you can't control the weather, you can protect your family and home from all manner of storm damage by engaging in preventative measures and having an emergency plan in place.
Break down the tasks into checklists by need and season so you don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of work. If you aren’t sure how to prevent storm damage by yourself, talk to professionals, as they are trained to take care of the larger tasks and do them properly.
If you have solar panels on your roof, talk to Palmetto today about our Palmetto Protect service. We'll provide regular maintenance to ensure your solar power system stays in good working order. After a storm, we can help ensure that your solar panels didn’t experience any harm and even repair them if something did happen.