Storm Damage To Your Home

Hurricanes and tornadoes are known to cause major damage over large and scattered areas. These are always well-publicized events and many people believe that when it comes to storm damage to homes, hurricanes and tornadoes are the most common causes. However, that is not true in most cases. The majority of storm damage is a result of less severe, though still destructive weather, namely heavy rain, hail, and strong winds.

Damage From Rain

Water is the most common storm-related cause of damage to residential homes. Unless the damage is from a flood, where standing water is obvious, damage from rainwater may not be immediately or easily detected. Small drips and leaks are sometimes detected only after the passage of time, when spots or discolorations begin to appear on ceilings. Sometimes the damage is detected only after a change in the texture of surfaces become noticeable, a weakness or expansion of structural materials like drywall or baseboards.

Things to watch for after a rainstorm include:

  • Water stains or rings on ceilings.
  • Leaks or puddles around and under windows and doors.
  • Water seeping through basement or crawlspace walls.
water damaged ceiling with stainsWater stains on ceiling

Damage From Hail

When the updrafts in a thunderstorm are strong enough to carry water droplets upward above the freezing level, hail will develop. Once the hail becomes too heavy for the updraft, it begins its journey toward the ground, sometimes at a speed approaching 100 mph. Hailstones can range in size from about a ¼ inch to as large as 4 inches, softball size. If a hailstone that is only the size of a pea hits your home at any speed close to 100 mph, it’s going to do some damage.

When hail strikes your roof, the shingles may be dented, the shingle’s granules can be knocked off, or circular cracking may occur. Any of the three may lead to problems in the future, so a roof inspection should be done after any hailstorm, regardless of the size of the hail. However, your roof may not be the only place that hail can cause damage. Hail can also crack windows; dent or put holes in wood and aluminum siding; or even dent and loosen gutters.

hail damage to houseHail damage to siding and window

Damage From Wind

Downed trees, scattered garbage cans and outdoor furniture are the obvious results of strong winds, winds that are often referred to as “straight-line” winds. Strong winds account for about half of all damage reported across the United States.

Wind damage may occur to several areas around your home. Doors, especially double-entry doors, are susceptible to wind damage. As wind pressure is applied to doors, seals and weather stripping may gap to the point of allowing water to enter your home. Around windows, caulking may weaken and rain may be forced in around the window frame. Your roof is the area of your home that is most vulnerable when it comes to wind damage. Although asphalt shingles are nailed in place when installed, the underside of each shingle has an adhesive that helps the shingles seal to each other. As a strong wind gusts across a roof, an updraft is sometimes created. This updraft affect can loosen or tear shingles off your roof. Loosened shingles may allow rain to be blown in under them. When shingles are missing, well, it’s obvious that water damage is likely to happen.

Storm Damage Prevention

The severity of storms is hard to predict from year to year. You can’t control the weather but you can take precautions against damage to your home from storms.

  1. After any heavy rain, especially a rainstorm that involves stronger than normal winds, look at your roof to see if any shingles have been blown off or bent upwards. If you see any shingles lying in your yard or shrubbery, they may have come from your roof and further inspection should be done. If any are missing or damaged, replacement is required.
  2. Do a periodic inspection of your gutters. Gutters and downspouts should be firmly attached. If you see any gaps between the gutters and the gutter-boards, take action to re-secure them so that water doesn’t flow behind the gutter and down the sides of your home.
  3. Clean gutters to make sure water flows through them. When heavy rains occur you want the water to be carried away by the gutter system. Check downspouts by flushing them out with a garden hose to make sure that they aren’t clogged with leaves or other debris.
  4. Siding can be considered your home’s first line of defense. It should be firmly attached and any pieces that are missing or damaged need to be replaced as soon as possible.
  5. Seasonally, you should check the caulking around every widow and door. For a few of dollars and at the expense of a little time, you can prevent rainwater from penetrating around them.
  6. Check behind shrubbery and flowerbeds to ensure that the ground is sloped away from your home’s foundation. Ground settles over time. Add dirt if necessary. This will keep water from pooling along side the foundation and possibly entering your basement or crawlspace. Also make sure that all downspouts are directed away from the home. Install splash blocks or downspout extensions to move water away from the house.
  7. Severe storms can often cause a loss of power. It’s a good idea to consider having an emergency generator on hand to provide power for a few hours or a few days. Keeping a few lights on and a refrigerator running can make life a lot more comfortable during inclement weather.

Important Storm Considerations

Spring and summer are usually the seasons for severe storms. An ounce of prevention now can relieve you of larger headaches when and if a severe storm takes place. And remember, while it is important to consider your home’s well being, don’t forget your family’s. Don’t be caught totally by surprise. Have an emergency safety plan in place and conduct a trial run to make sure everyone in the house knows what to do and where to go if a storm emergency arises. With good planning you may be able to turn a storm into a sprinkle.

You can receive immediate, 24-hour assistance by calling 877-960-0491. These restoration professionals can answer any questions you may have about a storm damage to your home and design the perfect remediation plan specifically for your situation. Their initial inspection and consultation is free.

Additional Reading:

Blizzard Damage - How to prepare for a blizzard, and deal with any damage to your home.

Tropical Storm Damage - Types of tropical storms, preparation, what to say to your insurance company to be sure you are covered.

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Written by Mark Huey.