5 Tips to Hurricane-Proof Your House
What is a hurricane?
As defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
A tropical cyclone is a low-pressure system that rotates and features structured thunderstorms but no fronts (a boundary separating two air masses of different densities). Tropical depressions are tropical cyclones with maximum sustained surface winds of less than 39 miles per hour (mph). Tropical storms are defined as having maximum sustained winds of 39 mph or greater.
A hurricane occurs when a storm’s maximum sustained winds exceed 74 mph. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 ranking or category based on the highest sustained winds of a hurricane. The higher the category, the greater the potential for property destruction from the hurricane.
Hurricanes form in the Atlantic basin, which encompasses the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico, as well as the eastern and central North Pacific Oceans.
What happens when a category 5 hurricane strikes?
Our impact windows and doors are tested against the highest wind speeds, namely category 5. The Saffir-Simpson scale goes up to a Category 5 for the strongest hurricanes. Many homes and businesses suffer total roof failure as a result of these storms, and other structures, especially smaller utility buildings, are completely destroyed. Many wood-frame buildings suffer severe, irreversible damage, and mobile/manufactured homes can be completely destroyed. Large roofs and walls often fail, especially if there are no inner supports. Only some types of buildings can withstand the onslaught of rain and only if they are situated at least 3 to 5 miles inland.
Multistory concrete parking garages, reinforced brick or concrete/cement block apartments with hipped roofs sloping no less than 35 degrees from horizontal and no overhangs, and windows made of hurricane-resistant safety glass or covered with shutters are examples of the types of buildings that can withstand category 5 hurricane weather. If even one of the above-mentioned conditions is not satisfied, the building might be damaged beyond repair.
Are hurricane-proof windows or doors worth it?
Since Florida has shown to be affected by a tropical storm or hurricane once every three years, and very rarely will people move homes on such a schedule, the resounding answer is: yes.
The most powerful hurricane to hit Florida in recent times was Hurricane Michael in 2018. The first Category 5 hurricane to hit the contiguous United States since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Hurricane Michael was an extremely strong and deadly tropical cyclone.
The hurricane killed at least 74 people, 59 in the U.S. and 15 in Central America. Michael caused an estimated $25.1 billion (2018 USD) in damages, including $100 million in economic losses in Central America, $6 billion in damages to U.S. jet fighters at Tyndall Air Force Base, and $6.23 billion in U.S. insurance claims. Michael inflicted $18.4 billion in property and infrastructure damage in Florida, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).
It’s safe to say that some of those insurance claims could have been avoided or been lower had people hurricane-proofed their houses. Hurricane-proofing doesn’t mean that nothing at all will happen to your house, it simply means that you are limiting the damage. There are many ways to achieve hurricane-proofing your home, below are 5 tips that should help you get on your way.
How to Hurricane-Proof Your House
1) Install high-impact windows throughout
Impact windows include an innovative laminated glass and a sturdy frame to withstand impacts. They are far less likely to shatter, even from direct hits, because of their construction to endure high winds and collision from objects. The last thing you need during a storm is a smashed window, therefore it’s important that the windows you have can take a hit without breaking. We offer single-hung, casement, fixed, and sliding impact windows.
Some of the most common types of impact windows include single and double-hung designs. Single windows differ in that they have one movable sash. A window sash is the part of the window that holds the glass and the framework around the glass to keep it in place. Some of the most adaptable and aesthetically pleasing windows are single-hung varieties.
Casement windows are noted for their security due to their reliable locks and robust frames. Casement windows are already great at keeping out the elements, but adding impact glass to them makes them near bulletproof.
Large pieces of immovable glass that do not open, close, or slide are known as fixed windows or picture windows. Picture windows are commonly used as part of a bay or bow window, although they can be installed anywhere natural light is desired. Fixed windows let in plenty of natural light and showcase beautiful scenery, thus the name. To better suit the requirements of a certain task, most are made to order.
Sliding windows are made up of two windows, one fixed and one that slides horizontally. With minimal internal space needed for opening and closing, these windows might be a great option for houses with lower ceilings. Using impact glass in a Sliding window offers the same visual appeal as a traditional slider without the risk of accidental shattering.
2) Make sure the windows you choose are not just impact-resistant but hurricane-proof as well
Choosing impact windows for your house is just the start. Hurricane-proof windows are meant to also withstand wind-speed and barometric pressure. Two terms you might come across when looking for hurricane-proof windows are Design Pressure (DP) and Performance Grade (PG).
Design Pressure is an old rating which indicates wind pressure. This number-based assessment included water infiltration, air infiltration, and structural load. The Performance Grade ranking system was created to promote more precise measures of efficiency.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale classifies hurricanes in the following format:
- Category 1: 74-95 mph
- Category 2: 96-110 mph
- Category 3: 111-129 mph
- Category 4: 130-156 mph
- Category 5: 157+ mph
Imagine that each 10 points in the PG rating correspond to a hurricane level. A PG rating of 30 should therefore be able to resist a Category 3 hurricane, a PG rating of 40 a Category 4 hurricane, and so on. As such, you should look to see that our impact windows do actually have a certified PG of 50, matching category 5 hurricanes.
3) Hurricane-proof your roof
Storms may cause several types of roof damage. Hail, strong winds, rain, and falling debris are the most typical sources of damage to a roof during a storm. Hail and other debris can damage shingles, whilst strong gusts can pull them clean off the roof. Heavy rains can cause water to pool, which can cause or aggravate leaks. Strong gusts can cause individual tiles to dislodge. If left unchecked, even a single missing shingle might result in leaks that cause extensive damage.
The strongest storm gusts may sometimes lift an entire roof. Usually, it’s not the wind that caused the roof to come off in such situation. Instead, it’s because of shifts in atmospheric pressure on top and bottom of the roof. The low air pressure that results from a storm’s fast-moving air is the result of the storm’s rapid progression. In contrast, the air inside the home is either motionless or moving at a slower rate, therefore the pressure is always higher than outside. When the roof is “pulled” toward the low-pressure zone, the result is upward movement due to the pressure differential.
Some homeowners may not find metal roofing appealing, yet it is the most secure and safest solution. If you choose to build your home in Florida, you need to prepare for hurricanes. Metal roofing is the most wind-resistant option since it can withstand hurricane speeds of up to 160 mph.
Many homeowners find that tiles made of clay or concrete are the most aesthetically pleasing option. Tiles are a popular option for high-end properties since they can be dyed to any hue and are designed to complement Florida’s distinctive architectural style.
Curved tiles, which can withstand winds of up to around 130 mph (which is a really strong storm), are undoubtedly the most aesthetically pleasing alternative. However, concrete or clay tiles are not the greatest or safest option as Florida often experiences wind speeds of over 130 mph. They are among the market’s priciest roofing materials.
Since slate tiles are better for the environment, they are a popular choice among homeowners. Their average resistance to wind speeds of roughly 110 mph is quite a bit lower compared to other alternatives, and the tiles may cause a significant degree of damage if they break loose, thus they are often heavier and cost much more than other solutions. Slate roofing requires expert installation.
Low cost and easy installation make asphalt shingles a popular option. However, they are not made to withstand speeds over 110 mph, and older, recycled or reclaimed asphalt shingles can only weather winds of up to 50 mph at best. When it comes to hurricanes, they are not the ideal choice for Florida roofs.
Wood shakes, often called “shingles,” are an old-fashioned type of timber roofing material produced from split logs. They’re more resistant to wind than ceramic, concrete, or slate roofs, but not as much as metal. They’re pricier than asphalt shingles, especially if you go for the authentic, hand-crafted shakes.
4) Secure lawn or patio furniture properly
Your first step should be to determine which pieces of furniture have the most risk of being blown away in a severe storm. You might not need to put weights on all of your patio furniture if you’ve picked heavy items to use in places prone to high winds.
Find the direction the breeze is blowing from. Now that we have a rough idea of how strong the wind is, we may head in that direction. Although you can’t forecast the wind during a storm, you still need to know if you live in an area with a wind tunnel or predictable wind conditions. Some of the ways to weigh down or protect your patio furniture include:
Take the furniture indoors
However careful you are, there is no way to guarantee that your furniture will remain intact during a hurricane or other extreme weather event. You will also dislike spending money on replacing, repairing, or cleaning outdoor furniture when you have the alternative of storing it. Also, if you have impact windows that are also hurricane-resistant, you’ll know that the patio furniture is just as safe as the furniture inside.
You may use your furniture coverings for more than just protecting your furniture from the elements. Even when a hurricane is bearing down on you, they can help. By bringing all of the pieces of furniture under one cover, you’ve made them far more resistant to the high winds. The fabric used for the outside is both waterproof and durable.
If you want to keep your patio furniture safe from the wind, all you need is a bungee rope and a sturdy pole or tree. Verify that the cable is securely fastened to the static pole or tree.
Use Earthquake Gels
Earthquake Gel is put beneath the legs of patio furniture to keep it from blowing about during a hurricane. Even though this gel was initially developed for glass tops, its use has expanded to other surfaces. The glue is really strong, so you can forget about rearranging the furniture. You’ll need to do some investigating or see an expert to find a solution to get rid of the adhesive.
You can also use different types of weights, such as:
- Patio furniture sandbags (affordable and simple)
- Deck down anchors (professional and secure)
- Sofa fasteners (keeps your sectional together)
5) Prepare your pool or hot tub for the onslaught
When people prepare their houses for hurricanes, the little ol’ pool or hot tub can end up forgotten. People think, “Oh, I’ll just cover it or drain it”, but there is more to securing your pool or hot tub than meets the eye. Here are some tips on getting your pool or hot tub hurricane-ready, along with the rest of your house:
Remove the protective covering
Even while it may be natural to want to protect your pool or hot tub from impending storms by covering it, experts caution that this is a bad idea for several reasons. The cover we use to keep trash out of the water may become a dangerous flying item in a hurricane, especially for above-ground pools and hot tubs. The cover might fly off in the wind and crash through your roof. Never wait for a storm to pass before you uncover your vehicle.
Do not drain the water
No matter how tempting it may be, you shouldn’t empty the hot tub or pool before a storm. The best course of action is to completely fill them. Reducing the water level in the pool or hot tub will not prevent flooding, and it will cause damage to the structures supporting the water. In the event of a storm, an above-ground pool or hot tub with an insufficient amount of water in it may be blown over or carried away by the winds.
For an in-ground pool, the same rules apply. If the pool is filled with water, the added weight will help maintain it in place. Lift pressure induced by significant rainfall can cause empty or partially filled pools to “pop” out of the earth. Installing a siphon hose in the pool will allow you to drain any overflow water in the event of an overflow.
Turn off the filters, disinfect, and shock before the storm hits.
A pool filter is often clogged by debris that has been thrown around by a storm. When a storm is on the horizon, turning off the power to the filter and the pumps can prevent any potential problems from occurring due to the equipment being overworked. Before a hurricane or tropical cyclone hits, experts advise shocking your pool with as much chlorine or bromine as possible to ultra-sanitize the water.
Move and secure any unattended items
This may seem like a simple element of storm preparation, but there is a seemingly limitless number of things to consider when it comes to pools and hot tubs. Before a storm rolls in, make sure you’ve put away all of the chairs, tables, decorations, pool cleaning supplies, and even the skimmer lids. Swimming pool professionals advise taking precautions against potential damage by securing or removing skimmer covers before a hurricane hits.
Find any damaged or missing beams in the perimeter and fix them. Remove any signs or decorations from the area around the pool as they might become a hazard if the wind picks up. They’re certain to turn into a projectile that might destroy your house.
Turn off the power to the pool equipment
All power should be cut off at the main panel by turning off the circuit breakers before a storm hits. During times of calm weather, pool professionals recommend using the pumps and filters. While the storm is in progress, you should leave the main circuit breaker off.
Safeguard the equipment by wrapping it up
The time has come to put your wrapping skills to use. Before a storm, be sure to cover the pump motor, time clock, light transformers, and heater with waterproof plastic and tape the plastic shut. Disconnect the equipment and store it somewhere safe if you reside in a flood-prone location.
In addition, clearing the space around the station of equipment is work that should not be neglected. If the site is kept clear, the pricey equipment won’t get flooded when the hurricane winds and rains roll in.
Make sure that your pool’s screen enclosure is in good condition and secure it
It’s possible that this is the simplest part. Create a “vent” in the screen to allow air to circulate and prevent wind from tearing at the enclosure. Professionals also recommend removing panels on opposite sides to create a wind tunnel.
Take these precautions before a storm arrives to protect your pool, hot tub, and house from damage.
In conclusion, hurricane-proofing your house may not be simple but it’s a necessity. The job won’t get done unless you do it yourself, especially when you live in a storm-prone area such as Florida. Storm-proofing your home doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. A few precautions can make all the difference when Mother Nature begins to threaten your home.