Batten Down the Hatches!
Here on the Space Coast,we’ve been fortunate to avoid disastrous destruction from any major hurricanes for the past eight years. Yet, many local residents can grimly recall the great damage caused by the super storms of 2004. That said, as the start of the 2013 hurricane season is officially upon us, now is the time to undertake preparations to ensure your home is properly protected.
WINDOWS, PORCHES & LANAIS
Unquestionably, windows, sliding-glass doors and any other exterior glass elements of your home represent some of the biggest considerations. The installation of shutter and panel systems — like impact Bahama and Colonial shutters, roll-up and accordion shutters, and aluminum and optically clear panels — over exterior glass elements can offer extra safeguards for your abode. While windows are up to the task of wind pressure, even a small object impacting them during a hurricane can have catastrophic results.
For homeowners who already have shutter and panel systems installed, now is the time to check functionality, according to Mike Katrick, owner of Atlantic Storm Protection in Titusville.
He recommends closing, locking, unlocking and re-opening all of your shutters to ensure they’re in working order. “We strongly recommend that accordion and roll-up shutters be serviced once every six months, and once every three months if you live within two miles of the beach,” he says, adding that shutters should also be pressure washed regularly. And for those with electric roll-up systems, Katrick suggests operating them once a month to “keep everything moving” and “alert you of any issues.”
Homeowners with existing panel systems, meanwhile, should check to ensure they have all the proper hardware needed to install the panels. “We get quite a few calls from homeowners looking for replacement hardware when a storm is in the area,” says Katrick.
Lanais and screened-in porches are other areas of the home that should be properly protected during hurricane season as well, and Atlantic Storm Protection offers a variety of hurricane netting systems, accordions and roll-up shutters for protection. And for added garage security, Katrick’s company also offers door braces for reinforcement.
While protection of windows, porches and lanais are of utmost importance, just as vital is protection of your home’s roof.
Mike Willis, owner of Mike Willis Roofing & Construction in Melbourne, offers this advice: “Start by checking the age of the roof. If it’s 10-15 years old, you might want to have it inspected by a licensed roofing contractor. The contractor will be able to evaluate the roof for any potential problems and offer corrective solutions.”
According to Willis, a good rule of thumb is to have your roof inspected at five-year intervals until the roof hits its 15-year mark. From then on, have it inspected every two years. Dependent upon the use of proper materials and installation, he says typical Florida shingle roofs last approximately 15 years, while Florida tile roofs usually
last 20-25 years.
That said, modern roof manufacturers are now promising longer longevity. And when it comes
to new home construction, Willis says that with the new Florida building codes, “we have the best storm-proof roofs in Florida’s history.”
But before installing a new roof, do your homework. Specifically, hiring a licensed and insured roofing company that understands proper building codes and storm protection upgrades can save homeowners large expenses on the back end. For example, Willis says his company always uses a self-adhered secondary water barrier on the whole roof deck. “It adds to the price, but we know the benefits far exceed the cost.”
OUTDOOR LIGHTS & FANS
In addition to protecting the structural components of your home, all exterior elements, such as outdoor fans and lights, should be properly protected. “In a nutshell, the best advice I can give is to make sure all objects are well-maintained, installed securely and correctly to their mounts, and to focus on reducing the potential for flying debris as much as possible,” says Craig Bronson, vice president of business development at House of Lights in Melbourne.
With regard to fans in particular, if a hurricane is looming, Bronson says it’s a good idea to remove the blades from their motor housings, and to ensure the motor housings are securely fastened to the ceiling mounting brackets.
For post-mounted lighting fixtures, Bronson suggests removing the post heads since most of these fixtures are not designed to withstand hurricane-force winds. He adds that homeowners may also want to make sure the posts are securely mounted to a concrete slab or buried into a concrete footer beneath the ground.
Wall-mounted and hanging fixtures, meanwhile, should be not only installed properly, but also securely fastened to their junction boxes. “If you have a way to tie down hanging fixtures to at least two separate points, you can reduce the possibility of these items being blown around and damaging your home or property,” says Bronson.
He adds, “The most important thing to remember, though, is once the storm has passed, if you see any damage to electrical components, do not touch them before making 100 percent sure the power has been turned off.”
Not sure if your home is hurricane ready?
Partake in a Wind Mitigation Inspection
Wind mitigation inspections can help you harden your home for hurricane season by identifying areas that need strengthening. “If you are not sure of what you may need to prepare your home to withstand a hurricane or even a strong tropical storm, a Wind Mitigation Inspection will give you a good idea of what areas of your home need to be improved upon,” explains Mike Katrick, owner of Atlantic Storm Protection in Titusville. The inspection can be done for less than $100, and participants oftentimes save money on their homeowner’s insurance.
For more information, contact Atlantic Storm Protection at (321) 794-4869 or visit AtlanticStormProtection.com; Mike Willis Roofing & Construction at (321) 254-7176 or visit MikeWillisRoofing.com; and House of Lights at (321) 723-8921 or visit HouseOfLightsFL.com.