Hurricane retrofitting your property
Almost all areas of the country are subject to high winds, so it’s important to ensure that your home and property can withstand a high-wind storm no matter where you live, but especially if you live in an area prone to hurricanes.
If done correctly, these precautions will reduce the amount of damage to your home in a high-wind storm. Keep in mind that you’ll need to check your local building codes before performing improvements to make sure that you are conforming with the requirements.
Check the following areas of your home and make the recommended improvements, if needed, in order to secure your home. Keep in mind that you should consult an engineer for many of these projects in order to ensure that your home can handle the load of high winds.
If you have an asphalt shingle roof, inspect it for damage and replace old, worn shingles with new shingles. Make sure that the shingles are properly fastened to your roof with adhesive that has engaged. Also ensure that you have metal connectors (hurricane straps or clips) attaching your roof rafters to your wall framing. This will ensure that your roof stays attached in high wind. Toenailing the trusses or rafters is not sufficient. If you live in an area prone to hurricanes or extreme heat, you may need to replace your entire roof after 15 years.
If your roof covering is something other than asphalt shingles, such as wood shakes, clay tile or metal shingles, you’ll want to make sure that all the shingles or tiles are fastened down tightly with screws, or fully-set mortar or adhesive. However, there are no cost-effective retrofit measures for these types of roofs at this time.
Install impact-resistant shutters over all windows and glass doors. Use adequate fasteners to attach the panels over the openings. You can also protect your home by installing impact-resistant windows and glass doors when your existing windows and glass doors require replacement. Impact-resistant windows and doors typically consist of either laminated glass, plastic glazing, or a combination plastic and glass system. Make sure the windows and doors are rated for the pressure of wind in your area.
Double wide garage doors are more susceptible to wind damage than single doors. Ensure the installed garage door(s) are rated for the wind speed in your area. If you have a double wide door, especially if it is not rated for the wind speed, you’ll want to reinforce it by installing horizontal and/or vertical bracing onto each panel and heavier gauge tracking. Also consider installing a garage door retrofit kit that can withstand hurricane winds.
Make sure your exterior walls are properly anchored to your foundation. Confirm that the wall studs are adequately connected to the sill plate. You should consult with an engineer to determine the minimum bolt spacing. You’ll also want to repair any cracks in your foundation, again consulting with an engineer to determine the cause of the cracks and the best fix is advised. If you live in a multiple-story house, you'll also want to ensure that your walls are properly connected from floor to floor using metal straps. This can be difficult to verify, as it will be hidden behind drywall, but if you're tackling a remodeling project, it's a good time to check how your floors are connected.
Porches, decks and other attached structures, such as carports and screened enclosures, can tear away from a house. The connections at the top and bottom of the posts supporting such structures should be checked to see if they are strong enough to resist uplift forces and anchor the post to the foundation. Again, toe-nails will not cut it. An engineer can help you determine if the connections are adequate to withstand the predicted forces.
Examining these areas of your home will help you protect your home against high winds. Some of these retrofits can be accomplished by a handy homeowner, while others require the expertise of an engineer. While you can’t completely hurricane-proof your house, you can make it much more resistant to damage.