Your Home - Hurricane Edition 2010
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A Special Issue on Hurricane Preparedness for Connecticut Home Owners
Hurricane Edition 2010
Some nice green grass

How to Prepare Your Home

You don’t have to click your ruby slippers to know that there’s no place like home. And though some of us may live near an irksome neighbor, chances are they aren’t green and it isn’t our house we want falling on them.

Hurricane-force winds and water can easily damage or destroy buildings and homes. Debris such as signs, roofing material, and small items left outside become flying missiles in hurricanes. Extensive damage to trees, towers, water or underground utility lines (from uprooted trees), and fallen poles cause considerable disruption. The best precaution a homeowner can take to withstand nature’s fury is to prepare, prepare, prepare!

The intensity of a landfalling hurricane is expressed in terms of categories that relate wind speeds and potential damage. According to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, a Category 1 hurricane has lighter winds compared to storms in higher categories. A Category 4 hurricane would have winds between 131 and 155 mph and, on the average, would usually be expected to cause 100 times the damage of the Category 1 storm. Depending on circumstances, less intense storms may still be strong enough to produce damage, particularly in areas that have not prepared in advance.

Secure Your Home
The best time to prepare for a hurricane is when there is no threat of an oncoming storm. The most important precaution to take to reduce damage to your home and property is to protect the areas where wind can enter. According to recent wind technology research, it's important to strengthen the exterior of a home so wind and debris do not tear large openings in it. This can be done by protecting and reinforcing critical areas such as the roof, windows, shutters and doors.

Does your home have a gabled roof? If so, the end wall of the structure takes a tremendous beating during a hurricane. If not properly braced, it can collapse, causing significant damage. However, gable end walls are easy to strengthen and deserve to be a high priority.

Typically, gable end trusses are directly attached to the top of gable end walls. The bottom of the truss must be securely nailed to the top of the wall and braced to adjacent trusses. This prevents wind from pushing or pulling the gable end at its critical point, where the gable truss is connected along the gable wall. Without adequate bracing, the end wall may be destroyed during hurricane winds.

To secure your gable end wall, fasten eight-foot long braces to the bottom chord of the gable truss and the adjacent trusses with sixteen-penny (16d) nails. The braces should be perpendicular to the truss, spaced at a maximum of four feet on center. In addition, be sure to tie back the gable truss with at least one eight-foot long brace, along the ridge of the roof, to several of the interior trusses.

Shingles are usually not designed to resist hurricane force winds. They come with integral locking tabs or factory-applied adhesives that on occasion do not adhere properly to the underlying shingle because of cold weather installation, uneven surfaces or any number of other reasons. For increased wind resistance, have a qualified person inspect several shingle tabs to see if the adhesive has engaged. If not, use a quick-setting asphalt cement to bond them together.

To cement the shingle tabs to the underlying shingles, place two spots of quick-setting asphalt cement about the size of a quarter under each tab with a putty knife or caulking gun. Press the tab into the adhesive. Be sure to cement all the tabs throughout the roof, being careful not to bend them farther than necessary when applying the adhesive. Replace any damaged shingles immediately.

Attach Roof Sheathing with Adhesive
The uplift resistance can be improved to the roof deck from the attic — without removing the roof covering. Using a caulking gun, apply a 1/4 inch bead of wood adhesive along the intersection of the roof deck and the roof support element (rafter or truss chord) on both sides.  At places where there is limited access, such as where the roof meets exterior walls, use quarter round pieces of wood approximately two to three feet long and apply the adhesive along the two adjacent sides of the block. The length of the quarter round pieces can be longer or shorter to suit the space. Press the wood pieces in the intersection making sure the adhesive has made solid contact with the sheathing and roof support elements.

According to static pressure tests, using the wood adhesive can increase the wind uplift resistance of the plywood roof sheathing by as much as three times the conventional method of securing the sheathing with nails. It should be available at building supply stores.

An important rule for any wind storm is not to be in a room with windows that can be broken. If your house doesn't have a windowless room, use an overturned table or a heavy sofa for protection in case of flying glass. Homeowners should be aware that taping window will not prevent breakage, but may help to keep flying glass to a minimum. Consider your neighbor's garbage can flying at 100 mph, while tape will not prevent it from crashing through it just might keep the glass from shattering around the room after impact.

To protect the windows heavy plywood covers or metal shutters are vital. But waiting until a storm is bearing down to go buy the plywood is almost surely too late. This is because the plywood has to fit the windows and it has to be firmly attached to them. Experts recommend using 3/4 inch plywood and drilling screw holes 18 inches apart all around it.

The easiest designs are those that simply cover the opening with a plywood panel. The American Plywood Association (APA) offers a series of Hurricane Shutter Designs. Each design is available for $1, or you can download all five designs from the APA's website at no cost:

In past hurricanes, many homeowners upon returning have noticed their temporary plywood shutters blown off, because they were not adequately fastened.

Use adequate fasteners appropriate for the structure; a wood-frame home, exterior stucco, or a concrete block structure all require different fasteners. Proper installation and anchoring devices should be purchased and prepared well in advance of an oncoming storm. Window covers should be stored with the screws started, along with everything needed to install them; such as a ladder and the correct size screwdriver ready to use since building supply stores generally sell out of these materials quickly during a hurricane warning. Another important question to answer ahead of time is: Who's going to install the plywood covers, maybe with a 20 mph wind gusting as a storm approaches? It's probably a safe bet that your 70-year-old mother can’t do it by herself.

Impact-resistant glass is optimal for windows not easily fitted with hurricane shutters or those that are hard to reach. These are windows made from glass laminated with composites (also referred to as laminated window systems, or plastic bonded to glass) that provide enough strength to allow windows to withstand high winds, projectiles, or even bullets. This impact-resistant glazing can reduce the risk of window failure and personal injury or property loss during tornadoes, hurricanes, and explosions. When struck, laminated glass may crack or shatter, but the glass fragments tend to adhere to a plastic layer and stay in place. This type of window is a particularly good choice when building a new home or adding to an old one.

Why is protecting windows so important? Once a window is broken, the wind blows inside and not only wrecks the interior, but also applies upward pressure on the roof. Enough air pressure could be all it takes to send it flying (remember that green neighbor it may land on?). If this happens, the walls can collapse, destroying the entire home.

An excellent way to protect a home from damage in wind storms is to install impact-resistant shutters over all large windows and glass doors. Not only do they protect doors and windows from wind-borne objects, but they can reduce damage caused by sudden pressure changes when a window or door is broken. There are several types of shutters available. The accordion shutter is made from interlocking vertical blades which slide in place horizontally, on a track. They are operated by pulling each curtain toward the center of the track, latching the curtains together and locking the handle.

Another type is the roll-up or rolling shutter, consisting of a series of slats that form a curtain with both sides of the curtain being inserted into guide rails. The curtain is then rolled onto an axle which is covered by a housing. Rolling shutters can be operated manually by gear, by pull strap or can be motorized independently or in conjunction with a manual override. Motorized shutters can be operated by either a switch or remote and can be controlled either individually or in groups. On loss of power caused by hurricanes, motorized shutters must be operated manually, requiring either access to the motor (which can be difficult) or a pre-installed manual override. Most often, a manual override is operated using a gear.

Other types of shutters include Bahamas and Colonials which can be made of wood, aluminum or vinyl. Bahama shutters are mounted above the window creating shade when they are open, and when in use, they are brought down and secured over the window. Colonial shutters are two-piece louvered shutters that hinge to the wall on either side of the window and fold together to protect it.

Your home has either double or single entry doors. If they are solid wood or hollow metal they probably can resist wind pressures and hurricane debris. Installing head and foot bolts on the inactive door of double-entry door would be a good place to start. Be sure the surface bolt extends into the door header and through the threshold into the subfloor. Since double entry doors fail when their surface bolts break at the header trim or threshold, checking the connections at both places is suggested. It is also just plain smart to make sure doors have at least three hinges and a dead bolt security lock with a minimum one inch bolt throw length.

Garage Doors
Because of their width, double-wide garage doors are more susceptible to wind damage than single doors. Unless the existing doors are tested hurricane-resistant, the wind may force it out of the roller track — especially if the track is light weight or some of the anchor bolts are not in place. This occurs because the door deflects too much under excessive wind pressure and fails.

To secure garage doors, check with your local government building official to see if there are code requirements for garage doors in your specific area. Check with your local building supplier or garage door retailer to see if a retrofit kit is available for your garage door. Double-wide garage doors need to be reinforced the weakest points: involving the installation of horizontal and/or vertical bracing onto each panel, and using wood or light gauge metal girds bolted to the door mullions. Heavier hinges and stronger end and vertical supports may also be required.

However, if a homeowner is not sure of the structural integrity or strength of the roof, windows or doors may want to consider a professional home inspection.

Do Not Drain Your Swimming Pool
Many pool owners believe the myth that draining their swimming pools or spas before a storm will keep it from overflowing and flooding their property. This is simply not true. Properly built or installed pools should be equipped with overflows that will drain excess water.

Playing the better side of caution would be to slightly empty the water level, lowering it by no more than 1-2 feet. Otherwise, the hydrostatic pressure can be too strong, possibly causing the pool to "float" or "pop" out of the ground, according to the The Official Broward County Hurricane Preparedness Guide. Also, the water in the pool serves as a kind of shield, protecting the finish and interior surfaces from the effects of flying debris. Unless safety precautions are taken, the most significant storm damage to a swimming pool can occur with the pump and it’s motor.

Preparing the pool for an oncoming hurricane should include Turning Off the power to the pool equipment. Turn off the circuit breaker that supplies the pump, motor, lighting, chlorinators, etc. Remove the motor and relocate it to a high-and-dry place inside, away from water and flooding. If removing the motor is not an option, another solution is to tightly wrap it with plastic and securing it with strapping tape or rope.

Outdoor Furnishings & Plants
Remember the flying garbage can? It may be prudent to be sure that can doesn’t belong to you, and that you don’t have to ask for it back while standing in your neighbor’s living room. To prevent them from damaging anyone’s house or other parts of your property while they get battered about by strong winds and heavy rain, stow all cans, recycle bins, patio furnishings, outdoor toys, potted plants, pool cleaning equipment and gardening equipment inside. For heavier outdoor objects that can't easily be brought inside, anchor them to something solid with rope, bungee cord, chains, etc.

Regular landscaping along with storm preparedness should have already removed weak and dead trees or tree limbs on your property. If this has not already been done, now would be the time to address it. Damaged limbs will most assuredly come down during high winds. Making sure they are cleared and removed on a clear, sunny day well in advance of a hurricane is always preferable to debris blocking access to your home or family during a storm.

Some nice green grass
Some nice green grass

From the Editor
Big Hurricane Year

According to the nation's top forcasters, 2010 will prove to be a much more active hurricane season than usual with 15 tropical storms and eight hurricanes predicted.

This newsletter will give you some basic information about how to prepare should a hurricane hit the northeast.


Have a Plan for Your Family
Have a Plan for Your Family

The Best Hurricane Trackers
The Best Hurricane Trackers

Connecticut Resources
Connecticut Resources


Some nice green grass
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