1. SEAL HOLES, CRACKS AND
Water can invade homes in a number of
ways, especially when it’s being blown horizontally. To emphasize how important it is to seal
areas to prevent water intrusion, consider this:
Hurricane force winds can blow water
uphill. In fact, a 74 mile per hour wind (the lowest hurricane wind)
can blow water up a wall about 4 inches. A 110 m.p.h. wind can blow
water up a wall nearly 6 inches. With that kind of force, gallons of
water can be pumped through even very small cracks in walls and end up
in the wall cavity or living space.
Consequently, penetrations in walls can
allow enough water into a house to cause lots of damage. If there is a
loss of power for air conditioners (AC) or dehumidifiers to dry things
out, that water damage could lead to mold.
Look for holes where wires, cables and
pipes enter and exit the house. In addition to openings for cable TV
and telephone lines, seal all the way around electrical boxes and
circuit breaker panels. Pipe penetrations include AC refrigerant lines,
AC condensate lines, water heater pressure relief lines and water
pipes. Also seal cracks around wall outlets, dryer vents, bathroom and
kitchen vents and electrical devices such as wall lights.
Goose neck vents, turbine vents and a
variety of roof vents that work in ordinary wind probably will not keep
out water in a hurricane. Most are not designed to operate in strong
winds and few are designed to handle the wind loads induced. The vents
should be removed or anchored more securely and well sealed. If you
remove them, securely seal the opening with a cover that will not be
blown or sucked off.
Doors: Check for
leaks around your windows and doors, especially near the corners. Check
for peeling paint, it can be a sign of water getting into the wood.
Inspect for discolorations in paint or caulking, swelling of the window
or doorframe or surrounding materials.
and Exterior Walls:
Seal any cracks and holes in external walls, joints, and foundations, in
particular, examine locations where piping or wiring extends through the
outside walls. Fill all cracks in these locations with sealant.
Flashing, which is typically a thin metal strip found around doors,
windows, thresholds, chimneys, and roofs, is designed to prevent water
intrusion in spaces where two different building surfaces meet.
All vents, including clothes dryer, gable vents, attic vents, and
exhaust vents, should have hoods, exhaust to the exterior, be in good
working order, and have boots.
Check for holes, air leaks, or bypasses from the house and make sure
there is enough insulation to keep house heat from escaping. Among other
things, air leaks and inadequate insulation results in ice damming. If
ice dams collect around the lower edge of a roof, rain or melted snow
can back up under the shingles and into the attic or the house. Check
the bottom side of the roof sheathing and roof rafters or truss for
Make sure that basement windows and doors have built-up barriers or
flood shields. Inspect sump pumps to ensure they work properly. A
battery backup system is recommended. The sump pump should discharge as
far away from the house as possible.
joints are materials between bricks, pipes, and other building materials
that absorb movement. If expansion joints are not in good condition,
water intrusion can occur. If there are cracks in the joint sealant,
remove the old sealant, install a backer rod and fill with a new
Sheathing and Siding:
Replace any wood siding and sheathing that appears to have water damage.
Inspect any wood sided walls to ensure there is at least 8" between any
wood and the earth.
Since drywall is an extremely porous material and is difficult to dry
out completely, damaged areas should be replaced if any signs of
moisture are present. One way to protect drywall from moisture intrusion
in the event of a flood is to install it slightly above the floor and
cover the gap with molding.
Walls: Exterior walls
should be kept well painted and sealed. Don't place compost or leaf
piles against the outside walls. Landscape features should not include
soil or other bedding material mounded up against walls.
Soffits: Keeping soffits in place
can help keep water out of your house. Aluminum and vinyl soffits were
often blown off homes during the 2004 hurricane season. An inexpensive
recommendation for soffit strengthening is to apply a bead of
polyurethane sealant along the joint between the edge of the channel and
the wall, installing sharp pointed stainless steel screws through the
fascia and channels so that they connect the soffit material to the edge
supports, and applying sealant in the grooves where the fascia material
butts up against the fascia and wall channel.
REPAIR THE SHINGLES
ON YOUR ROOF
Keeping shingles on your house is
extremely important. Check to make sure they are well secured to the
roof, particularly along the roof edges.
A common problem is that edge shingles
are not well fastened or extend beyond the drip edge more than the 1/4”
typically recommended for high wind areas. Once the perimeter shingles
lift off, a peeling process starts and creates a domino effect.
The attachment of perimeter shingles can
easily be checked by gently trying to lift the lower edge of the
shingle. If it comes up without much effort (older shingles become
brittle and may crack when bent too much), then you should secure them,
which is easy.
If you find that a lot of shingles,
including ones away from the edge, are poorly adhered, budget for a new
roof in the near future. There have been significant improvements in
shingles and the adhesive strips that anchor them to the ones below.
New high wind rated shingles installed according to manufacturer’s
recommendations for high wind areas and with extra edge sealing
performed very well in the hurricanes of 2004.
Repair or replace shingles around any
area that allows water to penetrate the roof sheathing. Leaks are
particularly common around chimneys, plumbing vents and attic vents. To
trace the source of a ceiling leak, measure its location from the
nearest outside wall and then locate this point in the attic using a
measuring tape. Keep in mind that the water may run along the attic
floor, rafters, or truss for quite a distance before coming through the
Use roofing cement in 10 oz. caulk tubes
that fit ordinary caulk guns to secure roof shingles. It's inexpensive
and one tube is enough for about 25 feet of shingles. Perimeter
shingles include those along the eaves and gable edges, plus the ones on
the ridge and hips. Place three 1" diameter dabs under each shingle tab
(near the edges and in the middle). On gable ends, secure the three
shingle tabs closest to the gable edge. If the roof is not too steep,
an able-bodied person with practical skills should accomplish this in
just a few hours.
3. SECURE YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Limiting possible sources of wind-borne
debris before a storm will help protect your home and those around you.
Replace gravel/rock landscaping materials
with shredded bark. In a particularly strong hurricane, gravel has been
found in mail boxes and has shredded vinyl siding.
Limit yard objects like garden spheres or
gnomes, and remove chairs or other furniture when not in use, so there’s
less work to do to prepare for a hurricane.
Keep trees trimmed so that branches are at least 7 feet away from any
exterior house surface. This will help prolong the life of your siding
and roof and prevent insects from entering your home from the tree.
Vines should be kept off all exterior walls, because they can help open
cracks in the siding, which allows moisture or insects to enter the
prepared to move anything outside that can become flying debris into
your house or garage.
Source: Institute for Business and Home