A hurricane's alternate way of causing you catastrophic damage

Sealing gaps and cracks around an outdoor hose bib

When wind speeds get above 60 mph rain water is driven against a house with such great force that the danger of ravaging leaks goes up significantly. This can draw gallons of water into your home and you may not know it. This happens through cracks, holes, gaps in siding and around windows and doors. When this goes on for hours at a time, the damage can mount up quickly since there is usually no electricity available to dry out the homes through air conditioning and de-humidifiers.  The damage can be every bit as devastating as direct wind damage.  No matter how well built a home is, there is just no affordable way to make them water tight. Most houses have several vulnerabilities that allow water to enter that can be easily fixed, some in just an hour or so.

How do I prevent major leaks in my home during a hurricane?

  • Windows.  Approved shutters on your windows won’t stop the rain but appear to reduce the amount of incoming rain.  Urethane caulk around a secured window can also help prevent water and wind leakage.  Aluminum duct tape when applied between the frame and the sash can be effective.  But it must be applied from the outside, not the inside and when the surface is clean and dry.
  • Doors. Approved shutters may help.  So will fresh applications of weather-stripping.   Keep in mind that doors that swing out are better at keeping water out than the in-swinging doors.
  • Attic Vents.  Ridge vents, off ridge vents, gable end vents and soffit vents can let a lot of water into the attic, soaking the insulation and leading to the collapse of ceilings in homes that otherwise look fine from the outside. Solid soffits, like those made of plywood with some screened vents, have been less of a problem than light weight vinyl or aluminum soffits.
  • Holes and Cracks.  You want to be sure there are no openings in your home that would allow water to seep in.  Your checklist should include:  gas lines; external faucets and waterlines; air conditioning pipes; external electrical outlets; exterior light fixtures and dryer vents. Sealants should be used to block these holes.
  • Wall Cladding (exterior surfaces of homes).
    1. Frame Construction – These buildings have structural walls made of wood studs. The siding can run in several directions. Horizontal boards can be pretty effective whereas boards that run vertically or diagonally sometimes result in water being routed towards the interior of the house.
    2. Block Construction – These buildings are made of concrete blocks.  Some block homes have facings.  If a house is block with paint, several coatings of paint can be pretty effective as a water barrier.  Those whose homes have stucco material may find the cement, sand and lime composite is too thin to provide much protection.  It can also crack, letting water in.  Block buildings with brick facings absorb water.  Bricks and stone also crack, allowing wind-whipped water to penetrate.

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