Nail things down

Published 7:40 pm Thursday, June 30, 2011

Suffolk residents should ensure that their roofs have proper seals and are in good shape. Roofs are essential to maintaining the integrity of your home during a storm.

Getting your home ready for stormy weather

Suffolk residents are no strangers to severe weather, having dealt with disastrous hurricanes, nasty nor’easters and hazardous heavy winds.

June 1 marked the beginning of hurricane season, and just yesterday the season’s first named hurricane reached land in Mexico.

This means you should make your home as storm-worthy as possible before a storm but also maintain it so it’s ready when you have less time to react before it hits.

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Tim Reinhold, senior vice president of research and engineering at The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, said it’s most important for homeowners to maintain the condition of their roofs for safety during storms.

He said the roof cover is usually the first thing that goes when bad weather rears its head.

Roof covers are much more durable than they used to be, Reinhold said, but they start getting weak after five to 10 years.

He said homeowners should replace faulty roofs sooner rather than later.

He said although a new roof means a hefty bill, it will make storm proofing easier and more affordable down the road.

Having a sturdy roof doesn’t just keep the wind away — it also keeps out water, which can cause a lot of damage in a home.

“Keeping that water out is an important factor,” he said. “If it’s wet inside your house and you can’t dry it out, there’s going to be mold growing.”

Reinhold recommends Virginia homeowners should get a high-wind-rated roof designed to withstand at least 100 mile-per-hour winds.

Many people decide to replace their roofs in the fall, but Reinhold said to ensure the roof cover is sealed, the warmer months are a better time for re-roofing.

With a shingle roof, it is critical each shingle is glued tightly to the one below it. For a proper seal to be established, the roof must reach a temperature of 130 to 140 degrees for at least 60 hours.

Reinhold said a week with several 80-plus degree days is the perfect time to put on a new roof.

Once you have a sturdy roof, the windows and doors should be checked to ensure they are sealed properly to keep strong winds from getting inside your home.

Reinhold said during storm-proofing tests completed by the Institute for Business and Home Safety, once the wind gets inside, it tears the house apart. Older homes are especially at risk for this.

“If wind gets inside an old house, pressure builds up and pushes walls out while wind is pushing in,” he said.

This can also happen if you have a large garage door that isn’t storm-ready.

If the door caves during a storm, it creates a huge opening for wind to get inside the house, Reinhold said.

Aside from buying a pricey new garage door for $1,000 or more, Reinhold said there are much cheaper kits that can be a great remedy.

These kits, which are about $400, include replacements for numerous parts of the door and braces to keep it from buckling in and out.

Another part of the house that is highly susceptible to winds is the gable end, which takes the wind’s full force because it is a large obstacle.

To steady it, Reinhold said it needs to be braced from the inside.

He advised to check the attic for roof trusses and beams bracing the roof and walls.

Another tricky area in several homes is the porch, he said. Homeowners should ensure the poles that hold your porch up are securely attached, so wind can’t rip the porch off.

Reinhold said there is still time to ready your home for storms and hurricane season. Although the season has already begun, he said this area faces the most danger from storms that come off the coast of Africa, which don’t usually reach the region until late July and early August.

For more information on storm-proofing your home, visit IBHS’s website at