As the leading provider of storm damage repairs in Minneapolis, our structural care experts at Johnson Exteriors entertain hundreds of questions from business owners and residents about how to prepare their properties for hurricanes and major storms. They want to form a more efficient relationship with storm damage insurance companies by keeping their homes and commercial properties free from avoidable injuries.
Our professional contractors work with adjusters all the time, and they work for companies that will exhaust every possible avenue to reduce the coverage of insurance policies. So, in this explainer, our technicians will outline how to prepare structures for storm seasons and other unpredictable weather events.
What Is a Storm and How Does It Cause Structural Damage?
Before we dive into preparing your property for a storm, let’s cover the types of storms and the damage that can occur.
Are Storms and Hurricanes the Same?
The storm season for most of our service areas in Minnesota starts in March and ends in November, but most tornadoes form during the four summer months between May and August. Tropical storms grow out of tropical cyclones, which originate from the ocean. The heat from oceanic waters interacts with the low temperatures of the ambient air, increasing wind speeds and creating cyclones that develop into tropical depressions, which then grow into tropical storms.
According to the National Weather Service, an adverse weather event requires surface wind speeds between 39 mph to 74 mph to be a tropical storm. Sometimes, they develop into small-scale hurricanes with surface winds up to 95 mph. Research from the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research reveals that an average of 2,000 storms are wreaking havoc worldwide at any minute.
How Do Storms Damage Commercial and Residential Structures?
Storms can cause extensive structural damage to residential and commercial properties, especially ones with poorly maintained exterior features. Roofs can suffer broken gutters and curling or cracked shingles, while attics and basements might develop leaks that could lead to mold formation and insulation issues.
Falling branches from nearby trees can wreck cars, decks, and outdoor sheds. Flying debris can damage exterior equipment, such as rooftop air conditioning systems, generators, satellite dishes, and pool equipment. Water penetration from past storms can cause extensive moisture damage that might take years to discover and thousands of dollars to repair.
How to Find Out If You Are in the Path of a Storm
When the National Weather Service detects a tropical depression that could escalate into a notable weather event, they issue a warning, which news agencies pick up on and report. Most people find out about storms through news programs, articles, and automated alerts on their phones.
Even though the NWS issues Wireless Emergency Alerts, which are government-approved notifications that tell people about extreme weather patterns like tsunamis and flash floods, we recommend getting a free weather app like Storm Shield or AccuWeather.
If you realize that you have not checked the weather in a while and you are already at work, you can look out for these signs which indicate an oncoming storm:
- Distant cumulus clouds that look dark, sizeable, and puffy
- Sudden darkening of the sky
- Abrupt shifts in the direction of blowing winds
- Unpredictable drops and rises in ambient temperature
How to Prepare Your Home for a Storm
Create a Maintenance Schedule with a Reputable Contractor
Homes and business structures maintained by professional crews will form a natural layer of protection against storms, hurricanes, and blizzards. Their owners will have a much shorter preparation checklist than those who only call maintenance personnel when they notice something broken.
Our first and most essential tip for storm preparation is to create an exterior maintenance schedule with licensed contractors like Johnson Exteriors. Our licensed professionals will regularly inspect your roofs, walls, decks, and pool areas to ensure they are storm-ready. They will also keep a detailed record of the health of your home, which they can use to help you file a storm damage insurance claim.
Trim Your Trees and Clear Surrounding Branches
Trees in urban areas do not have the luxury of surrounding forestry, which serves as windbreaks in a jungle environment. They face the full brunt of storms, causing weak or dead branches to fall on cars, roofs, and people.
Research from the National Storm Damage Center reveals that uprooted trees and falling branches cause more than $1 billion in property damage annually. Also, OSHA indicates they are responsible for more than 100 fatalities every year. If trees surround your house, storm damage insurance is a necessity.
Most residents and business owners in our service areas prefer to hire licensed arborists and maintenance specialists to trim their trees, as climbing up extending ladders and using chainsaws or tree shears can be dangerous. However, if you want to do it yourself, we recommend cutting branches and leaf pruning during late autumn to early winter, when insect pests and fungal spores are dormant.
Secure Your Fences and Fasten Outdoor Fixtures to the Ground
Check your fence posts for tears and rot, as one falling post can topple your entire fence.
Wind speeds 50 mph and above can also pick up barbecue grills, lawn chairs, and pool umbrellas, causing them to slam into your gates and fences, so we recommend taking them indoors or fastening them to the ground. Put your car in an indoor garage to stop flying debris from reaching it. If recent weather reports indicate high winds, close your storm shutters to protect the soft spots of your house.
Keep an Emergency Kit for Floods
Build an emergency kit with the following items:
- Flashlights with extra batteries
- Non-perishable food
- Garbage bags with zip ties
- Can openers
- A map
- Cell phones and power banks
When the storm and floods subside, contact a licensed contractor immediately so they can take pictures of the damage to your home during an inspection. The photos will help storm damage insurance adjusters make a more accurate assessment of your settlement.
Contact Us Today
For more information about preparing your home for a storm, contact Johnson Exteriors at 763-355-4458 for a free consultation.