Wind is the most common and most costly cause of damage to light frame structures in the United States. During hurricanes, wind speed can exceed 75 mph and may include debris, which significantly increases the damage.
Several things you can do, however, can reduce the potential damage from high winds. Studies completed following recent hurricanes show that typical light frame structures (stick-built homes) have some weak places. By strengthening these crucial points, you can make your home much safer against wind.
Here are the crucial weak places in your home,
Roof – Gabled Roofs
Two types of roof common in light frame structures are gabled roofs and hipped roofs. A gabled roof looks like an “A” on the ends while a hipped roof slopes upward from all sides of the structure.
Gabled roofs are typically more vulnerable to wind forces. The gable end wall is pushed by wind forces and may collapse if not properly braced. A failed gable end wall causes extensive damage to the roof and the structure, thereby allowing the water and wind go inside.
Fortunately, installing truss and gable-end bracing inside the attic can provide necessary strength to help your gable-end wall from failing. Truss bracing is basically installation of 2x4s that run the length of the roof every 8 to 10 feet, connecting several trusses. You should start from about 18 inches from the ridge.
Gable end wall bracing is placing 2x4s in an “X” pattern from the top corner of the gable to the bottom truss and from the bottom center of the gable to the top center of the truss. In both cases, you should consult a qualified engineer or architect for proper design of the bracings.
Exterior doors and windows
Stopping wind from entering your house is very important. When high winds enter a home, they create an internal pressure which can lead to catastrophic damage. All the exterior doors and windows should be secured properly. Storm shutters can be installed over all windows and patio doors. Shutters provide effective protection. Several kinds of shutters are available for homeowners. You can use plywood shutters for a minimal cost or choose metal shutters that roll up and down electrically. Also installing impact-resistant windows may be a more expensive but natural-looking alternative.
Garage doors, especially double wide (two-car) doors, can be very dangerous during high winds. Because of their size they can be pulled off their tracks as a result of wind pressure. These doors need to be strengthened to withstand high winds. Commercial retrofit kits are available for garage doors. Installing horizontal bracing to each panel, replacing existing hinges with stronger ones and checking the center and end support for wind loads provide stronger garage door against wind.
Wind force comes laterally to the ground during a wind storm. It comes in contact with the structures from the side and transfers its load to them. If this load is not transferred to the ground properly, it can damage, even destroy your structure. For this reason, you have to have secure connections between the sections of the structure.
Hurricane straps provide a very effective solution to this problem. You can use straps to connect the roof to the exterior walls as well as between floors in addition to any other code nailing requirements. Also, exterior walls should be anchored to the foundation properly by using anchor bolts. By securing these connections you create a safe way for the wind loads coming from roof to reach the foundation. Don’t forget that your home is as strong as its weakest link!
Writer: Emre Ergen