No matter where you live, a serious storm can take a heavy toll on your home. From hurricanes to floods to fires, the weather events around the world are getting more dangerous as the climate crisis intensifies.
Whether you sheltered in place with your emergency supplies, or were forced to evacuate after grabbing your prepped go bags, once the devestation passes, you need to take inventory of what happened around your home so you can fix anything that has the potential to create a greater problem for you in the future.
1. Roof Damage
Large branches and other items tossed around by the wind can create holes or dents that lead to leaks. Safely clear away any debris to get a better look at the shingles. Any obvious holes should be dealt with immediately. Also check to see if any shingles are missing, broken, or cracked. A cracked shingle in either asphalt or cedar roofs might not seem like a big deal, but it could cause leaks further down the road, so be sure to address any such damage as soon as possible.
2. Loose Chimney Flashing
Since you’re already on the roof, don’t forget to inspect the chimney flashing to make sure it hasn’t come loose during the storm. Flashing that has lifted can channel water down the chimney, leading to damage to the interior of your home, and dampness is never a good thing when it’s inside the walls.
3. Clogged Gutters
Gutters that are filled with debris or no longer secure are telltale signs of improper drainage. This could lead to water that pools on the roof, weakening it and making it more susceptible to rot or other damage.
4. Frayed Soffits and Fascias
Before leaving the roof, check the area underneath the eaves. Significant cracks, areas of chipped paint, and noticeable dents can indicate larger, potentially costly problems.
5. Water Stains on Walls
Check the walls both inside and outside your home. You may not have noticed small cracks in them prior to the storm, but heavy rain can sneak into these tiny fissures. You'll see the result as damp patches on your walls. When the storm has passed, keep an eye on those wet spots, noting if any new ones develop. It may take a while for exterior walls to fully dry, so be vigilant and keep track of them in the days following a storm.
6. Holes or Dents in Exterior Walls
High winds during a hurricane or windstorm can cause extensive damage to the exterior of a home. Minimal damage like chipping in paint or plaster, or small holes in exterior walls can both be easily repaired by the homeowner. Impact damage, on the other hand, is more serious, and can affect the insulation, requiring professional repair. Spider web cracks around a central point can be a sign of this more significant damage.
7. Leaking Windows
You may be thankful that your windows weren’t completely smashed during the last storm. That's one less thing to worry about, until you take a closer look and notice the glass panes are no longer secure. Inspect the frames, make sure they're not dented or cracked, and that there's no water inside your window.
8. Damaged Outbuildings, Fencing, and Trees
When it’s safe to do so, take a walk around your property, and check for any indication of damage. Ensure doors are still secure after being pummeled by high winds. Check fence posts and the fencing materials that may have worked loose in soggy soil after a flood. Securing your property is especially critical if you have livestock on the grounds.
Large branches that have landed on the ground generally pose no more than a tripping hazard. Why not work with what nature has brought you and turn them into a spots to attract wildlife? Loose branches still dangling in the trees high above are a different story, and can put you, your car, and your home in jeopardy.
Even though it may appear that your trees were lucky enough to get through the storm intact, the integrity of their root systems may be compromised after being bombarded by wind, rain, and flooding. This leaves them vulnerable to the next storm, when it may take nothing more than a light wind to send them toppling over. Have them inspected if you think they may have sustained any unseen damage.
9. Flooding in Crawl Spaces
It may be inconvenient to look underneath the house into the crawl space, especially if it’s still damp outside, but it’s important to know whether water has accumulated there. Drainage problems can lead to an unhealthy environment in the home, promoting mold growth and potential structural damage. Use a sump pump to remove any standing water.
10. Shaky Utility Lines
Overhead utility poles can easily be damaged by high winds. Since they're used for power lines, fiber optic cables, transformers, and streetlights, your public utility company should be alerted as soon as possible if you notice broken cables, slack lines, or leaning poles. Ensure your safety and that of your neighbors by establishing a 30 foot perimeter with rope or caution tape until the utility crew arrives.
11. Warped Driveways and Sidewalks
Storms can cause driveways and sidewalks to crack and shift, creating severe hazards on your property. The capable DIYer can make repairs, and even replacements, as long as the weather allows it. For the safety of anyone venturing onto your property, it would be wise to cordon off the area with highly visible yellow caution tape until those repairs are made.
Prepare For Future Storms
Documenting the condition of your property before a storm is a useful precaution. Take pictures, use multiple angles, and upload them to the cloud rather than keeping them on your desktop, so you can access them for insurance purposes even if you lose your computer. Trying to remember what you had is a lot harder during the stressful aftermath of a catastrophic natural event, especially if you’ve suffered losses.
Rowena lives and works in paradise, where a year round growing season inspires more projects than she can afford. She currently works as a Programming Librarian at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH) where she is proud to serve US Marines and their families. She received her BA in English at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB), and her Masters in Library Science at San Jose State (SJSU).
Prior to moving to Hawaii, she wrote catalog descriptions for an antique bookseller specializing in artifacts from the Civil Rights Movement, Japanese internment during World War II, and events that shaped LGBTQ history. Her research/writing career was preceded by 13 years of public service at the King County Library System in Washington.
Rowena got her start in DIY as a builder of cages and enclosures for the pets she regularly brought home during her youth. When not DIY-ing she&rsquo;s paddle boarding, snorkeling, or hanging out at the beach. She has the honor of being a mom, a wife, and a barely mediocre ukulele player.