Checking for storm damage to your home and what to do about it
The weather is a force out of our control, but that doesn’t make the effect of storm damage to our homes any less devastating. Natural disasters can strike anywhere, and without warning. Even when we do have warning that extreme weather is coming, we’re not sure exactly what kind of effects it will have.
Building materials and processes have come a very long way over the years, and our houses are sturdier than ever as a result. Whenever a storm or extreme weather event arrives, it’s best to do a thorough check over your property to find if there’s any storm damage or other issues to deal with.
We hope you don’t have to, but it’s better to be careful and prepared than to be caught off guard.
Checking for flood and hurricane damage
There are plenty of extreme weather events that can cause damage to your home, but flood damage and hurricane damage are two of the most devastating you might encounter often. Earthquakes, blizzards and tsunamis are also possibilities, but these are more dependent on where you live.
No matter where you live, there will always be some risk. Knowing what to look for after extreme weather will help keep your property in the best condition possible at all times. We’ve put together a list of just some of the things you should check.
The roof isn’t always the easiest part of your home to check, but it’s worth putting near the top of the list. Loose or broken roof tiles and shingles are the main issue here. The hole this leaves in your roof not only allows water inside but makes other tiles susceptible to coming loose.
Water through the roof could invite mould and damp into other areas of your home, weakening the wooden joists in your attic and ruining the insulation you have installed to keep the property warm.
In some cases, whole sections of your roof may be exposed or damaged, making for a much bigger issue.
While you’re up on the roof, check the guttering. This system, designed to direct excess water from the roof down to the ground and either away from your home or into the right drains, could be broken or blocked.
Broken parts cause the water to run down the building, seeping through tiny cracks and soaking the brick. Blockages add weight to the guttering, which is attached to the roof and walls. If too much water gathers, it adds weight and could break, also taking chunks of brick with it.
A number of insulation materials are not waterproof (that’s what vapor barriers are for), and especially if there’s a hole in your roof, the insulation you’ve installed could be compromised by water getting inside. Mould and damp are two big problems, so check your insulation and see if any needs to be replaced.
The attic is just the most obvious area, but floods could allow water into your home elsewhere. Check your wall insulation where you can and any basement levels, too. It’s better to sort this as quickly as you can.
Windows and doors
Damage to windows and doors is most obvious with the glass. This can be damage from debris caught in hurricane-force winds, often cracking or even shattering the glass. This needs to be cleaned up and replaced as soon as possible.
Another issue is with the seals around these entry points. Normally rubber or silicone compounds, they’re effective at keeping moisture out. They can rip or break, and aren’t easy to repair. You’d need to replace the whole strip, and this needs to be done in the dry.
Wall cracks are a nightmare. We know that.
From large cracks rising from the foundations to the tiny fractures in a wall, it’s a headache you don’t want. Especially on outer walls, it allows moisture inside and, if on load bearing walls, compromises the structural integrity of your property. They can be fixed with mortar solutions, but again, you need dry conditions to do so. It might require a thorough check of internal and external walls to be sure.
Inside walls can be repaired easier, but check for damp to see how much of a repair job you need to do - or what needs to be replaced. Most walls are plasterboard or plywood, so can be cut to measure to fill the gaps you need.
Slanted walls are an unusual problem. Whether from extreme wind or if they’re waterlogged from flooding, slanted walls not only weaken the integrity of your home, they can put pressure on other walls, which makes the problem much worse in the long run.
If you discover a slanted wall, you will need expert advice on what you can do about it, especially if the weather hasn’t eased off enough for big works to take place.
If you notice your home sinking into the ground, especially after heavy flooding, it could be that the ground has lost some of its stability due to the excess water. There are ways to fix this, but you’ll need expert advice to do it.
It normally involves pillars installed in the ground and attached to your home to prevent any further sinking.
What to do if you discover storm damage around your home?
Before doing anything after a storm or extreme weather event, make sure it is safe to conduct a full check of your property. If there’s a chance the weather will turn again before you can do anything, it isn’t worth the risk.
That said, if you can, conduct a full check of your property and look for storm damage or issues you need to sort. Take plenty of photos for evidence, too.
Check your insurance
If you have insurance, now is the time to check the details of your cover. There might be rules on what you can or can’t do, and if you’re unsure, speak to your provider as soon as you can.
You might need emergency repairs, and anything you do before finding out the situation could make things more complicated in the long run.
Do you need a surveyor?
A surveyor isn’t always necessary but can be helpful when there’s been damage to your home and you need to make an insurance claim.
Their role is to inspect the property and keep an objective eye on what needs to be done and whose responsibility it is to complete. It gives you peace of mind when making sure your insurance provider does everything they should.
If you have no problems with your insurance’s response to storm damage, then you might not need one, but they may also request one to make sure everything is done properly. Discuss this with your insurance provider and reach an agreement - but if you can’t agree, it could be useful to have one.
Should you call a professional to help?
While you can no doubt carry out small or easy repairs yourself, anything more substantial or that needs more experience might be better done by a professional. Chances are that these people will be busy after a flood or hurricane, so have as many details ready as you can to help them work out a priority list.
Some fixes might need a little research before you can get on with them, but not everything will be as difficult as you might think. Keep any receipts of tools or materials you purchase, in case they’re required by your insurance provider.
Ways to protect your home from flood and hurricane damage
As we mentioned earlier, there’s no way to control the weather - or to make sure extreme weather or storm damage won’t affect your home. There are some things you can do to help reduce the effect of flood or hurricane damage, though.
Extra roof tile fastenings
Roof tile fastenings are a must. You don’t want even a small wind to leave a hole in your roof for when the rain comes. That causes problems throughout the property and is easily avoided - and there are regulations stating at least one, if not two, fastenings should be used per roof shingle or tile.
Despite that, more fastenings could be an option to help with heavier winds and hurricanes, reducing the number of missing shingles and keeping any damage to your roof limited to broken tiles and minor leaks in some situations.
What you don’t want to do is compromise the stability of your chosen roof shingles or tiles, so consult an expert to get advice on the best way to keep your roof tiles in place.
Consider raised properties
Properties built on flat ground will always run the risk of suffering from flood damage when large amounts of water can’t be drained away. As the foundations are dug into the ground, they become vulnerable to water damage if it doesn’t have a clear route away.
The risk of the foundations being compromised by excess water exists, and this can seep into the structure above. Not only that, but if the sitting water from flooding is high enough, the longer your home and walls are in contact with it,the higher the chance of warping,cracks and slants appearing.
You can get around this somewhat by having your property sit on raised structures. While still dug into the ground, the extra height will keep your home out of reach of sitting flood water in most cases. You will need to check these supporting beams regularly, however.
Improving the drainage
One of the reasons for flooding is inadequate drainage systems and routes in the area. For flat areas, or those with dips and recesses where water can pool, this is essential. If the drains and pipes are too small or narrow, it won’t allow for water to drain easily. Not only that, it’s easier for them to be blocked.
Look at the drainage on your property - and the wider area, although this needs local authority involvement - and see if you can widen them to allow more water to escape. You need to check for blockages regularly to ensure water doesn’t build up and cause damage at the worst times.
If you have any questions over the damage caused to your home from extreme weather and would like to know what you can do to repair or prevent it in the future, get in touch with our talented team and we’ll do our best to help.