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Protecting Your Home from Strong Winds

Severe weather can produce strong winds that can seriously damage your home and threaten your family’s safety.  Unpredictable wind gusts can change direction and speed quickly and threaten the integrity of a building’s structure.  During high winds storms, flying debris can prove lethal. 

By maintaining a “tight seal,” keeping the outside wind from getting into your home, you may be able to keep your home safe from this type of damage and reduce the possibility of someone getting injured.

Structure

The following items can reduce the chance of your home being lifted off its foundation by providing uplift resistance:

  • Anchor bolts with heavy-gauge, square bolt washers can be installed during new home construction or added in existing homes to connect the floor construction to the foundation.
  • Plywood or OSB (oriented strand board) can connect the wall and floor components if properly nailed and installed.
  • Metal bracing connecting roof trusses or rafters to the wall framing.

Roof

Sheathing should be properly sized and nailed to comply with applicable building codes. Install underlayment material, such as asphalt-saturated felt. Provide separate, secondary water infiltration protection by sealing roof deck joints with a self-adhering modified roofing underlayment (thin rubber/asphalt sheets with peel and stick undersides located beneath the roof covering).

Roofing products with high wind resistance are available. Discuss with a contractor what measures can be taken to ensure the installation of your roof will be completed with high winds in mind. Insist they use hot-dipped, galvanized nails instead of staples to attach asphalt shingles.

Windows

To protect against flying debris, windows and glass doors can be fitted with impact-resistant laminated glass or covered with impact-resistant shutters.

Entry Doors

Solid wood or hollow metal doors are more wind resistant and are better equipped to handle wind pressure and flying debris.

Reinforce protection of entry doors by:

  • Making sure your doors have at least three hinges and a deadbolt security lock with a minimum bolt throw of at least one inch.
  • Consider not using double-entry doors, but if you do, install head and foot bolts on the inactive door of double-entry doors.
  • Since double-entry doors fail when surface bolts break at the header trim or threshold, check connections at both places. The surface bolt should extend through the door footer and through the threshold into the sub floor.

Garage Doors

Garage doors are especially vulnerable to damage during high winds, unless your doors are properly braced.

  • If building a new home, consider installing horizontally braced, singlewide garage doors instead of double overhead doors.
  • For existing homes, check with your garage door manufacturer for availability of retrofit bracing kits.
  • Garage door panels, especially for doublewide doors, may require both horizontal and vertical bracing to ensure stability.

Safe Rooms

It is a good idea to have a room in your home to go to in the event of a high wind storm.  If your home has a basement consider constructing a safe room, but if this is not possible then stay on the ground floor.  A safe room is constructed with reinforced floors, walls and ceilings and can be designed for both new and existing homes.  It will provide you with a safe haven during a major storm.

Manufactured Homes

Manufactured homes are especially vulnerable during high winds since they are not built on a permanent foundation.  While tie-downs can help they secure the frame, not the entire house and they can also weaken over time leaving the home susceptible to damage. The home’s foundation-to-wall or wall-to-roof connections may be compromised in the wind. Failure in either of these areas could result in a complete loss of the home.  A safe alternative might be a community storm shelter or other permanent structure to ensure your safety.