We’re in the midst of spring, and summer is still several weeks off, but a new season started on June 1: Hurricane season. Running from June through November, a variety of weather research agencies are anticipating at least a dozen named hurricanes in 2009, with as many as three of them being major storms.
The Gulf Coast, southeastern U.S., and even areas up the Eastern Seaboard and farther inland aren’t going to get a reprieve just because they’re still repairing and rebuilding damage caused by past hurricanes. With those projects ongoing, several manufacturers are reminding contractors and their clients to take time and prepare for the hurricanes to come.
Taking the Wind out of Window
According to Simonton, the biggest cause of devastation during a hurricane is the ability of wind to enter a structure through a broken window or door. This causes a build-up of pressure inside the structure that can blow out the roof and walls.
One way to prevent this type of damage is to install impact-resistant windows. Built up with reinforced glass and structural elements, impact-resistant windows are designed to withstand flying debris. PGT Industries recommends looking for impact-resistant windows that are approved for Miami Dade County, an area of Florida that has the nation’s strictest building codes related to wind-borne debris.
Also available for window protection are storm shutters and shades. Wayne-Dalton introduced its Fabric Shield storm panels in recent years. And the company has recently introduced Storm Stud, an additional component built into the window frame, allowing for easier deployment of the Fabric Shield. Unlike some metal storm panels, Wayne-Dalton says that hurricane fabrics are less likely to sustain damage during hurricanes, which makes it possible to use them over and over without replacement.
In addition to protecting windows, the top of the house may require attention as well. Hurricane-force winds can whip away some roofing materials. DaVinci Roofscapes also references the damage that changing pressure can cause. “Once air pressure moves through a hole in a roof and into the home during a hurricane, it can blow out the walls and windows of a home,” says Ray Rosewall, president and CEO of DaVinci Roofscapes. “Coastal-area homeowners, especially those in potential hurricane areas, need to have well-installed solid roofs overhead.”
The company says that straight-line winds and pressurized winds can cause different types of damage, from lifting shingles off the roof and pushing debris and wind-driven rain onto the roof. Roofing tiles, shingles, and other materials rated specifically for high winds will be more likely to stay put and protect the understructure, manufacturers say.
Connector and fastener manufacturer Simpson Strong-Tie offers specific advice for securing roofing materials to prevent hurricane damage. In instances where homes lose their roofs during a hurricane, the reason is typically that the roof was attached to the home’s walls simply with nails instead of stronger metal connectors. Nails, they say, can pull out during powerful winds, but roofs can be retrofitted with metal connectors either from the inside through the attic, or from outside through the soffit. Roofing materials, such as shingles, should be attached with six nails in high-wind areas, and concrete or clay tiles should be fastened with screws or fully set in mortar or adhesive. Scrimping on fastening materials can make roofs less likely to withstand high winds.
Protect and Connect
In addition to protecting homes with tough materials, building pros should make sure to protect their own items as well. Some contractors may find themselves in the midst of the weather, helping clients deploy storm shutters beforehand, or surveying the damage as the storm passes. Products from Pelican Cases offer watertight protection for cell phones and other gadgets, and can also be used at home to safeguard small items like jewelry. The polycarbonate cases are designed to withstand crushing weights up to 5,000 pounds.
Saving company documents to an off-site server can also be a life-saver in natural disaster situations. Power outages and damaged hard copies can leave companies little to work with, but electronically backing up contracts, designs, and other documents can ensure that projects are ready to go once clean-up is taken care of.
A range of products are available to help contractors and their clients build hurricane-safe homes. Click through the slide show below for a selection of products mentioned here, and other items.