For six months out of the year, millions of homeowners live with the possibility of devastating hurricanes, tornados, and floods. You've got supplies stocked and your family knows your emergency plan, but what do you do about your home?
Don't wait until a severe storm is imminent. Take the following precautions to minimize storm damage to your sanctuary and biggest investment.
1. Get a Whole-House Surge Protector
Lightning can cause extreme voltage spikes, threatening to fry all of your plugged-in appliances. A whole-house surge protector prevents this by blocking sudden electrical surges. Think of it as a powerstrip for the entire home. Powerstrips protect your devices from small, everyday power surges. A whole-home surge protector, however, safeguards all of your major appliances from lightning strikes that can jolt 100,000 amps into your electrical system.
Installing a surge protector of this level is no DIY job. You’ll need a professional electrician to hardwire a whole-home surge protector into your electrical panel.
2. Turn Off Utilities
If your area is facing an evacuation, turn off the electrical breakers for all your large appliances, including any A/C units and water heaters. Even if you have a whole-home surge protector, why take any chances?
You can also take this time to turn off the main water valve. This will prevent water damage in case pipes get broken. It isn't necessary to turn off gas lines, but if it goes out, contact the gas company to turn it back on.
3. Keep Gutters Clear
Clear gutters are important to the health of your home all year, especially during storms. If leaves and other debris clog the gutters, water can back up and cause damage to the roof and exterior walls. Whether you do it yourself or hire the job out to a professional, be sure your gutters are cleaned out. Reattach any gutters and downspouts that have pulled away from the house.
4. Protect Windows and Doors
When strong winds blow through windows and doors, it pushes upward possibly lifting the roof. French doors and sliding glass doors with no structural support between the sides are especially vulnerable. Use special hardware or bolts to secure them.
We live in a hurricane-prone area, so consider replacing wooden entry doors with steel doors. You can also purchase storm shutters at hardware or home improvement stores for your windows. Made of aluminum or steel, they can be pricey but well worth the cost. Another option is to install sheets of plywood on windows and patio doors. Either way, all homes should have tightly sealed doors and windows during a strong storm. Don't forget to cover any skylights or other windows. Reinforcement kits can be purchased to help secure garage doors.
5. Clear Your Yard
If a hurricane is imminent, put clearing the yard on your priority list. High winds can turn patio furniture, grills, playsets, and other items into projectiles that can slam into your home. If you can, store these items in your basement or garage. Don't overlook small items like tools and trashcans. Tie-down items like sheds, doghouses, boats, or anything that can't be brought inside.
6. Protect Your Home From Flooding
Most hurricanes bring severe flooding along with high winds. The first step to protect your home from flooding is to determine its vulnerability. A flood insurance agent can do this for you by determining your home's flood level. This is the height at which water can rise. They will advise you on whether or not you should purchase flood insurance. If your electrical outlets, sockets, switches, and circuit breaker aren't at least one foot above flood level, having them raised will protect your home from electrical damage.
You can also study the surface runoff the next time you experience heavy rain or snowmelt. Note whether the water flows away or toward your home and if it tends to pool around doors and basement windows. Identify any areas that may need dry proofing. Use sandbags in these areas. You can purchase these at home improvement stores or make your own with plastic bags and builder's sand. If your home has a second story, take what you can to the top floor.
Preparing for a bad storm or hurricane can be challenging, and no matter how conscientious you've been, you're likely to have problems. Luminous Electric is happy to help prevent damage to your electrical system or restore it back to normal if storm damage occurs. Contact us at (800) 956-8532.