Hurricane season is in full swing, and even here in Georgia, we can get hit with some pretty severe storms. With high winds and blowing rain, water is always a concern. The high concentration of trees in the Atlanta Metro Area means we also see lots of falling branches and blowing debris. Sometimes even whole trees can come down, and when they hit power lines that can cause widespread blackouts. So with all the potential damage from summer storms, are you ready for hurricane season?
As Benjamin Frankly so aptly noted, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Here in Georgia, that means preparing your home and your family for the effects of summer storms.
The first thing to look out for is whether your home is ready for the blowing, driving wind typical of these severe tropical storms. According to TrustDALE certified Dr. Roof, there are three main areas where water can penetrate your home and cause damage: the roof, the windows, and the siding.
Preparing Your Roof
If you haven’t had your roof inspected in a while, that’s a good place to start. Dr. Roof or these other TrustDALE certified roofing companies will all provide a free inspection. There are several areas of particular concern. First, you want to check for any existing damage to your roof. Damaged shingles can lead to leaks when wind-driven rain pushes its way through the cracks. Loose or curling shingles are also at risk of being blown off entirely. That would leave a huge opening for water to penetrate your roof. If any of your shingles are missing already, they need to be replaced as soon as possible.
Another area to look at on your roof is the flashing. Flashing is sheet metal (or sometimes plastic or rubber) that is installed in the valleys of your roof and around any roof penetrations, like chimneys or vents. The function of flashing is to direct water away from an area and down off the roof or into the gutters.
In the case of the valleys of your roof, where two slopes meet, water from both slopes combines to form a gushing stream of water. Flashing can easily carry that water away from the roof and toward your gutters, but only if it is in good condition. Flashing that is corroded or bent has the potential to allow water through. The fast flow and large amount of water make this an even greater danger than on the rest of your roof. Flashing around roof penetrations needs to keep water from seeping in around these features. If the flashing is in disrepair, a chimney, vent, or skylight can become a pathway for a leak.
A good roof inspection will include the flashing, as well as your gutters. Strong flashing and clear gutters can direct water safely away from your roof. But if your flashing is broken or your gutters are clogged, you could be collecting water in all the wrong places. Most roofers can fix either of those problems, but it’s best to deal with them before the next big storm hits.
Preparing Your Siding and Windows
Siding and windows are other pathways for water to enter your home that many people don’t consider. Especially when water is blown hard by the wind, the danger posed by any cracks in your siding or leaks around your window is magnified.
On your siding, look for any loose boards. That’s the most obvious sign of a problem. Also, look for any dark marks or streaking on the side of your house. That could be a sign of mold or algae growth where has collected. Remember, when water gets under the siding of your home it can stay there and do damage long after the rain has stopped. Having a professional inspection of your siding is the only way to catch all damage, as many types of damage or not easily noticeable. Check out these TrustDALE certified siding experts.
To secure your windows, you need to make sure that two critical areas are completely sealed, the sills and area around your window where the frame of the window meets the frame of your house. First, check the sills to make sure that your windows close completely and securely. Blowing rain can work its way up and under a window that doesn’t close tightly. The area where the edges of your window meet your house should be protected with special flashing or caulking. Check for cracks that could become leaks.
Trees and Blowing Debris
Water is not the only danger posed by the severe tropical storms we get during hurricane season. We love our trees here in Atlanta, and they give the city and unique and beautiful feel. But all those branches can pose a bit of a problem when the wind and rain really pick up. To protect your home, you need to reduce the potential for blowing debris and falling trees and branches.
Start by taking a walk around your house and looking for anything that could fall on your roof. If you have trees that hang over your roof, cut them back to reduce the potential for falling branches. If you see a tree that is dead or dying in the vicinity of your home, it may need to be professionally removed. Tree removal experts like TrustDALE certified businesses Richmond Tree Experts and Excel Tree Care can safely remove the threat of a dead tree falling on your home during a storm.
When the weather forecasts a particularly fierce storm, it’s time to secure the area around your home. Look for loose items like children’s toys, lawn furniture, grills, and anything else that could be moved by strong winds. Take what you can inside. If you have a basement, that would be a great place to store all of your outdoor items. The less there is to blow around, the less your chances of having something smash into your home.
Preparing for Damage
If your home is damaged in a storm, despite your best efforts, you may need to file an insurance claim. However, depending on how prepared you are, that could be easier or much, much harder. The most important thing you can do is to document everything. Take pictures around the outside of your house, the siding, and, if you can, the roof. Do that before the storms hit, when everything is in its current condition. That way, if there is any damage, you can take pictures of the damage and compare it to the “before” pictures. This will help your insurance determine what damage was caused by the storm and make it easier for you to get the coverage you deserve and pay for.
Disaster recovery experts like TrustDALE certified Archer Restoration Services and American Property Restoration suggest that twice a year you should take pictures of all of the property on the inside of your home. Open up drawers and closets and take pictures of everything. Then keep those pictures (or a USB drive with those pictures) somewhere other than in your home. You can also upload pictures to a web storage service for secure storage.
In the case of serious damage to your home, for instance, from a fallen tree, flooding, or fire, having pictures of your property will help you make a claim for its value. It’s very hard to claim property that you can’t document, so the photos will greatly reduce the trouble of making your claim.
When it comes to hurricane season in Georgia, it pays to be prepared. TrustDALE.com has certified dozens of businesses that can help you before and after a storm. So take a look at the services listed here and find out how you can prepare for the storms before they hit.