As you continue to spruce up your home as the summer months approach, it is also important to get it ready for more serious situations, such as extreme weather conditions including hurricanes, blizzards, snowstorms and wildfires. In this article, a heated gutter systems contractor shares essential tips – both short-term and long-term plans of action – on how to do exactly that.
Thoroughly Examine Your Home
Before the season transitions and a severe weather event has the chance to strike your area, perform a meticulous check of the landscape surrounding your home. Take note of unwanted tree limbs, weeds and animal nests that may have developed over the previous season. Tall, overarching branches of trees, for instance, can cause damage to your power lines in the event of strong winds. When high winds are expected, make sure the pieces of furniture in your backyard are tied down and safe from the impending onslaught. Do not forget to check for items around your residence that might be flammable. By eliminating them, you are creating a buffer zone around your home that can save you and your family should a wildfire occur. If at all possible, strictly use fire-resistant materials when making upgrades to your home.
Create a Firewise Landscape
Drought does not only make gardens shabby, but it also creates burning conditions for wildfires. To build a firewise landscape, you need to limit the amount of flammable vegetation around your home, replace mulch with gravel or pebbles, use pavers and rocks and avoid fire-prone plants, such as sagebrush and rosemary. Additionally, consider using wire mesh to reduce the risk of embers coming into contact with vulnerable parts of your home. You can use wire mesh to cover the attic, soffits and undereave vents as well as areas underneath the patio, deck or porch where dried leaves and other debris collect.
Clean Out Your Gutters
It is crucial that you clean out your gutters, downspouts and drains on a regular basis to ensure that they can handle accumulations of snow and rain during storms. Depending on the kind of foliage you have around your home, you may need to clean your seamless gutters once every three months, though experts generally recommend performing the task at least twice a year: once in the spring and once in the fall.
Furthermore, double-check the position of your downspouts. If these pipes are failing to effectively carry water from your roof to a drain – say, creating puddles of water and saturating the landscape – it means they are not functioning properly. Continue them with gutter extensions to transport rainwater or snowmelt away from the foundation of your home. This can reduce the chances of flooding in case you are hit by an unexpected level of rainfall in the future. Putting landscaping stones beyond gutter extensions also assists in flushing out water in different directions.
Hurricane-Proof Your Home
At times, all it takes is a powerful hurricane or windstorm for the fragile components of your home to completely fail and collapse. In fact, hurricanes are responsible for some of the most expensive natural disasters to have hit the United States. Even if you do not reside in a hurricane-prone region, making sure that your home can sufficiently resist impact can protect your home from the attack of tornadoes and other high-wind weather events.
A gabled roof is more vulnerable to wind damage than a low-sloped roof. If you have a gabled roof, you must add truss bracing to your home to wind-proof it. The bracing utilizes wooden beams to connect the rafters at the ends of the gabled roof, boosting the stability of the overall structure. To hurricane-proof your yard, remove anything that is not secured tightly in place, such as wind chimes, garbage cans and garden tools.
If you are considering installing shutters, know that they are not the most convenient or long-lasting investment out there. While shutters can brace garage doors during storms, they may not be able to withstand high wind pressures during Category 4 or 5 hurricanes. New impact-resistant doors and windows, however, can notably decrease the chances of high winds causing structural damage to your residence. Plus, it does not hurt in the slightest that these features can also protect your family from intruders, minimize outside noise and prevent conditioned air from escaping.
Install a Standby Generator
With a standby generator at home, you will have electricity to run your central air conditioning system and other essential appliances in the event of a power outage. This device can also keep your sump pump operating in the most severe of circumstances, reducing the risk of flood damage. Since a standby generator is permanently installed outdoors and wired directly to your home’s electrical system, it can automatically restore power to your home in a matter of seconds. The size of your home and the amount of wattage needed will determine the most fitting make and model of standby generator for your home. If the cost of a standby generator is too high, you can always opt for a portable generator. Fueled by propane or gasoline, this equipment is powerful enough to keep lights and a few appliances in your home operating.
Retrofit for Flooding
One of the most effective methods to physically defend your home against flooding is with a flooding retrofit. For one, elevate your home so that it is above the flood level. You can also dry floodproof your home by installing backflow valves on water lines or making the portion of your home that is below flood level watertight using concrete so that your home can withstand floodwaters for at least three whole days. You should also consider wet floodproofing techniques such as elevating large pieces of equipment like the furnace, air conditioner and water heater on heavy-duty shelves or platforms.
Review Your Insurance Policy
Keep in mind that regular homeowners insurance does not cover flooding. And factoring in the fact that nearly 25% of all flood-related insurance claims come from moderate- to low-risk areas, it is incredibly critical that you look over your insurance policies to make sure you are properly covered for losses related to natural disasters. Take note of the dollar limits and deductibles you would have to pay should you file a claim down the line. And if a brutal storm does take place, make a list of damaged belongings as documentation for your insurance company.
Build an Emergency Fund and Shelter
To cover costs accrued from weather-related emergencies, you will want to have funds of at least three to six months of your ongoing expenses stored in a savings account. If you know that a natural disaster is about to head your way, withdraw cash as soon as possible. Remember to save receipts from any disaster-related purchases with that cash since your insurance company may reimburse some of those expenses.
Furthermore, consider building a storm shelter if your property allows it. In addition to conventional home construction plans, building storm shelters is particularly beneficial to families caught up in a windstorm or a tornado. Of course, do not forget to confirm if your underground shelter or safe room complies with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or International Code Council (ICC) 500 standards during the building process. A skilled and experienced builder will be on top of this, but it is always better to err on the side of caution.