Storm Damage: Tips for before and after a major storm
Storm damage is difficult to avoid entirely. You can't control the weather, but you can be proactive and keep your home or business as safe as possible. SERVPRO is standing by to help you recover from any size or type of storm. Here are five things you can do to prevent storm damage to your property.
Take "Before" photos ahead of major storms
When a significant storm is headed your way, document the current condition of your property and valuable belongings. As safely as possible, take photos or video of your home or building. Document the condition of your roof, siding, windows, gutters, drainage systems, and any sheds or storage houses.
These "before" photos will help with the insurance claims in the event of significant storm damage. This is particularly helpful for commercial property owners and property managers.
Batten down the hatches
The easiest way to prevent storm damage is to keep your home or building in peak condition.
Roof, siding, windows, and doors
Schedule annual or semiannual roof inspections. Your roof is the first line of defense against storm damage, but roof damage can be difficult to see with a naked eye. An expert roofer will repair or replace loose, cracked, missing, or damaged shingles.
If you are preparing for a particularly strong storm, consider laying tarps and plywood on your roof to help prevent shingles from getting ripped off. The tarps can act as an extra layer of protection to keep water out and to avoid wind damage.
Visually inspect the siding on your home. Repair any loose siding that might get ripped off in a strong wind. Wind only needs a small crack to lift siding or shingles off your home. Replace any damaged siding that might allow water to seep into the walls.
Make sure your doors, windows, and skylights have reliable seals to keep out the wind, rain, and cold. If you are preparing for a hurricane or strong winds, it is essential to cover your windows with plywood or storm shutters.
Gutters, landscaping, and drainage
Clear your gutters, drainpipes, or flat-top roof of any debris. Leaves and branches can clog your gutters, causing it to overflow. In warm weather, overflowing water can flood into your home. In cold temperatures, standing or overflowing water can freeze, causing damage to your roof.
Keeping your landscaping maintained is an easy way to prevent all kinds of storm damage. Prune trees and shrubs to clear dead or diseased branches that might fall and damage your property. Make sure you keep at least 3 feet of space between your home and any tree branches or shrubs.
Regularly check the trees on your property for damage like cracks in the trunk, mushrooms growing on the trunk (that indicates decay), or branches that cross or interfere with each other.
While you are inspecting the landscape, check for loose fence posts, light posts, and similar structures around your property. Shake each post to test its strength and stability. Even loose fence posts can become dangerous in a strong storm.
Make sure water flows away from your home or business into a ditch or drain. Standing water or flooding during a major storm can cause flooding in your home.
Patio furniture and outdoor items
If you are preparing for a particularly strong storm (like a hurricane or nor 'easter), consider bringing lawn ornaments, patio furniture, garbage cans, grills, and other items indoors. If you cannot bring them in, make sure they are tied down. In a powerful storm, nearly anything can become a dangerous projectile.
Avoid ice damage
Keep your attic insulated properly. This reduces heat loss through your roof, which makes your home or business more energy-efficient and helps prevent ice damage.
As the heat escapes from poorly insulated attics, it melts snow and ice, which can refreeze, creating an ice dam. The ice dam causes water to "back up" under the shingles or fascia boards and soak through the roof and walls.
Immediately after the storm
It is important to assess your property as soon as possible. Finding damage as quickly as possible after the storm can help you minimize damage and save time and money.
Look for signs of water damage inside
While it is still raining or immediately after the storm, inspect your property for signs of water damage. The most obvious signs of water damage are puddles and dripping water. Also, look for stains and discoloration on the ceiling and walls. There may be more water inside the wall or ceiling that can cause more damage.
Mark any leaks you find with tape. When the rain stops or the water dries, it might be challenging to identify the exact location of the leak again. The marks will help SERVPRO experts identify and resolve the issue more quickly.
Check the basement and crawl spaces for water damage. Make sure no water is seeping in and that your sump pump or drainage systems are working.
If you find any water damage, take photos from different angles. Documenting everything as thoroughly as possible will make filing the insurance claim much more manageable. SERVPRO technicians can help you record any damages and relay that information to your insurance provider.
Assess the outside of your property
As soon as it is safe, begin to assess the exterior of your home or business carefully. Stay clear of any downed power lines, damaged trees, and floodwater.
Check for cracks, chipping, and dents in the siding, brick, or stucco. Discoloration is another indication of damage to bricks and siding. Even small cracks or holes require attention from a professional. Make a point to inspect the outside several times after the storm. Different lighting can reveal damage that is easy to miss.
Inspect your air-conditioning units, fences, vent caps, and other things on your property that may have incurred damage.
Contact your SERVPRO professionals who are ready to help you restore your home or commercial property to its original condition after storm damage. We are available 24/7 and equipped to handle any size disaster.