Damage from storms can be expensive — the average Hurricane Harvey residential property insurance claim was $13,000 and average flood insurance claim was $121,000 (TDI). However, it doesn’t have to cost much to help protect your home against storm damage. The better you can protect your home from damage now, the more money you’ll save after a storm hits.
This article provides different ways to protect your home at various budgets. If you aren’t able to do these suggested home improvement projects safely yourself, you can always hire a professional or get help from loved ones. Remember, safety first!
Besides the following tips, the best way to protect yourself against storm damage is to buy a flood insurance policy. Most homeowners policies do not cover damage from flood, even if it’s caused by a hurricane. Additionally, if you live in a special flood hazard zone, your mortgage lender might require you to have flood insurance.
If you live in a coastal county, make sure your policy covers windstorm damage. You may have to get a separate policy through the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA).
Clean your gutters. A working gutter system, with properly placed downspouts and drains, will direct water away from your home’s foundation and help prevent damage, erosion, and water buildup. To make sure gutters work properly, you’ll need to clear them of leaves and debris regularly.
Keep your garage door shut. According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), during a storm, closing garage doors, interior doors, and windows, “helps compartmentalize the pressure inside a home into smaller areas, reducing the force on the roof by as much as 30%. That gives the roof a better chance of staying intact.”
Remove items from the yard that can become projectiles. Before a storm hits your area, remember to move cars, lawn furniture, and other outdoor equipment inside to minimize flying debris that can cause damage to your property.
Seal gaps and cracks outside your home. During a hurricane or severe storm, water can enter your home through any small cracks and cause damage. Buy a tube of silicone caulk and seal any cracks and gaps. Make sure to check all exterior walls and around windows, doors, electrical boxes, vents, and pipes.
Secure loose shingles. Loose shingles can come off in high winds and let water into your home. The IBHS suggests that you “use a tube of roofing cement to secure loose shingle tabs to keep them on the roof and keep water out. Place three 1-inch dots of roofing cement under the tab to secure it (dots should be no more than 11 inches apart)” (IBHS).
Caulk roof to improve resistance to wind uplift. According to the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), keeping the roof on in high winds is essential, and research shows that correct application of the right adhesive or caulk will increase the resistance of your roof decking by as much as three times. FLASH suggests you, “apply a 1/4-inch bead of APA AFG-01 certified wood adhesive along the intersection of the roof deck and the roof support element (rafter or truss chord) on both sides with a caulking gun.”
Trim your trees. Hire someone to trim trees that overhang your house, remove any dead limbs, downed branches, or diseased trees that may fall and damage buildings or other structures. Trimming back trees and shrubbery can also prevent home fires that may occur from lightning strikes.
Get your roof inspected. It’s important to keep your roof free of defects and in good condition. A roof in poor condition is vulnerable to damage from high winds. A roof inspection is typically under $1,000, but any work that needs to be done will be an additional cost (IBHS).
Install protective shields for equipment, such as air conditioning units. Be sure to consult with the manufacturer prior to installation to ensure that operating efficiencies or equipment warranties will not be compromised. Protective screens will protect your expensive equipment from hail damage.
Make sure exterior doors are hurricane-resistant. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), exterior doors should “have at least three hinges and a dead bolt lock that is at least one-inch long.”