Home inspection findings by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck, Professional Real Estate Inspector TREC# 9073

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Preparing Your Home for the Hurricane Season

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A home inspector’s look at often overlooked items which could cause damage during a windstorm.

The first day of the hurricane season has arrived for this year, and many different outlets have been putting out guides for dealing with a storm and its aftermath. They are all good, when you read and implement them, but I noticed that few of them deal with issues which I consider important for having your home come through a hurricane and to make it more comfortable afterwards.

I will try not to repeat other guides, but this list is based upon my observations, and I may touch upon some tasks will be obvious. I will give a brief explanation of why an item is noteworthy, but you are welcome to post questions in the comments, where I will go into more detail. Without further ado, here is the checklist:

On the Exterior

  1. Prune trees and bushes away from the home. (limbs whipping against a wall or roof can cause great damage).

  2. Keep gutters clean and in good repair. (You want water to flow away from your home).

  3. If you have spots where water ponds near your home, find ways to direct it away from the building through drainage systems or regrading.(Rising waters pose a greater problem for many homeowners, so it your back patio floods have drains in place to prevent it).

  4. Sealing wall joints around doors, windows, and between two walls. (Rain water coming into the walls can damage sheetrock and trim inside the home).

  5. Plan out where loose items will be stored. (Garages and sheds can already be full, so planning where those garden furniture, plants, or sculptures can quickly be placed can be of help).

  6. Find a spot to place a tool kit where you can have easy access. Include the standard tools with a pruning saw and ladder. (I helped several neighbors who could not get to tools in their garage when they needed them after the storm).

  7. On the roof: make sure any trim or flashing is secured/nailed down; that flashing is in good shape; and that your roof covering is attached. (I have found that many homeowners do not know what is happening up on their roof, and existing problems lead to further concerns).

  8. Ensure that you have window screens in place, and that they have no holes. (Without air conditioning, you will open your windows to cool the house down. Damaged or missing screens allow pests to come into the home. Who wants mosquitoes when they sleep?)

Inside the Home

  1. In the attic, look for metal tubes (vents) which go through the roof. Check that these tubes have a metal strap wrapped around them that fix it to the two rafters on each side of the tube. (These vents are for burner compartments of water heaters and heating systems. The strap prevents them from banging about in the wind).

  2. While in the attic, look for darker patches on wood surfaces to help detect possible problems on the roof. (These darker spots could be and ongoing problems with moisture coming into the home).

  3. Store water for three days use. (This is frequently mentioned, but I saw people forgetting about this one. Use your tub, but if you have a water heater tank, you have 40 to 50 gallons of water there, so consider it a storage device. There is a hose bib at the bottom of the tank. Water may come out slowly due to build-up from minerals in the water, but you do have water there).

  4. Once the power fails, turn off appliances. (Modern appliances – which includes your television- can be damaged by power surges. Also, repair crews can have problems if all the homes are pulling power when they are making their fixes).

  5. Do you have an electric cooktop? Consider replacing it with a gas appliance. Natural gas lines rarely fail like our electrical lines- smart grids should alleviate that though. (I prepared meals on a propane grill outside, but a gas cooktop would have made life easier. To see if you can install one, look in the cabinet below the unit. If you see a brown tube with a cap and valve coming out of the wall, you have a gas hook up).

  6. Do you have battery powered lights? Being able to see at night or dusk can be useful, and candles could cause fires. There are now battery powered LED light strips which will not illuminate like your normal fixtures, but they are a great help when you have no power. (My wife told me of a woman who would not cook for her family because she had no light source, so the children were going hungry in the evenings. Lighting is something we should pay heed to).

I have not really looked for this; however, battery powered fans would be quite useful. We can take more heat than what we think, but without air movement, heat can be stifling. I hope this list provided some extra tips to supplement those other guides. I think that I will write a few more posts on preparing your home with advice on securing your home from damage. I will do a post on what to stock in your pantry and cooking. I love to cook, and I found that I could make some great meals without power, so I wanted to share some ideas on that subject.

If you any ideas or questions, share them in the comments.

« « How to Figure Out Where Your Furniture Should Go in a Room| How to Maintain and Properly Use A Push Mower and Push Edger » »

© Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Home Inspector Houston, Texas
Frank Theodor Schulte-Ladbeck
home inspector, TREC# 9073
Houston , Texas , 77063 United States

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