How to protect your home from harsh weather

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Tips and tricks for protecting your home from the elements

If you like learning new skills and having a to-do list that never ends, there’s no better investment than purchasing a home. But becoming a homeowner isn’t just the biggest financial commitment you’ll ever make, it’s also a pledge to take care of something, for better or worse, as long as you both shall live. Or at least until you decide it’s time to move.

Along with the bills, repairs, and perpetual upkeep, one of the biggest tasks you face as a homeowner is your never-ending battle with Mother Nature. Just when you think you’ve reshingled your last roof and can rest easy when it comes to leaks, you find a small pond in the basement after the latest storm. This list will walk you through everything you need to know in order to best protect your home from the elements.

What are the elements?

It’s not just water — which causes mold and rot — that you have to worry about. Wind, snow, hail, cold and heat can also do substantial damage to your home. Here are just a few examples of the havoc the elements can wreak on your home.

Wind

A gentle breeze is refreshing, but a gale force wind? Anything over 50 or 60 mph can be devastating. From hurling projectiles and prying loose shingles to stripping away siding and shearing off the entire roof, strong winds can dismantle a house in a matter of minutes.

Snow

It’s pristine, and it twinkles as if infused by magic. Snow is beautiful. But it’s also heavy. On average, a square foot of snow weighs a little over 12 pounds. If you have a house that’s 2,000 square feet and it snows 12 inches, that’s roughly an extra 24,000 pounds — 12 tons — on your roof. See how this could cause a little trouble? Especially if the snow is resting on large tree branches or that evergreen that’s already leaning toward your house.

Hail

Hail is Mother Nature’s mischievous child. They enjoy causing trouble. Got cracked shingles? Divots in the lawn? Broken windows? Dents in your car? Damaged outdoor furniture? You’ve got hail!

Cold

Cold is the silent destroyer of homes. If you’ve ever had a pipe burst, you already know this. But beyond that, cold can create ice dams in your gutters that force water beneath your shingles, thereby ruining the items under your roof. And if water gets into any tiny crack, be it in your driveway or your foundation, it will expand when it freezes, turning that tiny crack into a crevasse.

Heat

Excessive moist heat can warp hardwood floors and accelerate deterioration in other areas, such as your attic and roof. Excessive dry heat can suck the moisture out of the ground, making it shrink and taking away some much-needed support from your home’s foundation.

Best strategies for keeping your home safe

Indeed, the elements can be devastating to your home. Thankfully, there are a number of quick and easy things you can do to protect it from the elements. Following is a list of the best (and most effortless) strategies.

Strategy 1: Bring items inside

Lawn chairs, watering cans, bicycles, scooters, patio umbrellas, and other loose items that you keep outside need to be brought inside before a storm. After all, the wind can turn anything that’s not fastened down into a destructive projectile.

Strategy 2: Close the curtains

blinds

If anything flies into your window during a storm, having your blinds drawn and your curtains closed can help block some of the broken glass and other debris from entering your home.

Strategy 3: Use your garage

organize

If you don’t want dings in your car, put your vehicle in the garage before all hail breaks loose — along with anything else that could be damaged should the sky begin to pelt ice at your property. If your garage is full of clutter, however, this might not be as simple as it is supposed to be. Take time to organize your tools and such before the storm, and you could be thanking yourself later.

Strategy 4: Rake the roof

roof rake

When snow piles up on your house, it can get beneath your shingles as it melts, damaging your roof. When it’s safe to do so, grab a roof rake and clear your roof so melting snow can flow away without much damage. Note: always leave a thin layer of snow on your roof, because too much scraping could damage your shingles.

Strategy 5: Seal your driveway

gravel

Those tiny cracks in your driveway become bigger cracks when they fill with water which then freezes. Be proactive and seal your driveway — or at the very least, fill those cracks in with gravel — before winter arrives.

Strategy 6: Run a dehumidifier

dehumidifier

All that humidity in the summer can really mess with the wood in your house. It can also make everything feel quite sticky. To remedy the situation (and save your hardwood floors), turn on a dehumidifier and let it work its magic.

Strategy 7: Use a sprinkler

sprinkler

During those hot, rainless periods of summer when the ground dries up and pulls away from your house, weakening its foundation, don’t fret. Instead, turn on your sprinkler and put some moisture back into the soil. Don’t add too much, though, because excess water near your home’s foundation has a way of seeping into your basement or crawlspace.

Strategy 8: Review your insurance policy

Your homeowners insurance policy might not cover floods and damage caused by the elements. Take a few minutes, read over your policy, call your agent, and make the needed changes to get the peace of mind you deserve.

Extra tips for protecting your home from weather damage

The following tips involve a little more than a quick fix, but they are much cheaper than full-blown repairs.

Anchor down your large items

If you have a storage shed, a grill, trash cans, or any large item that doesn’t have a permanent foundation or isn’t securely fastened, anchor it down. You can use straps, anchors, or bolts. In strong winds, this will help minimize dangerous projectiles. In a flood, it will help keep your valuables from drifting away.

Remove trees that pose a threat

Rain can make the ground soggy, allowing trees to lean. Once tilted, wet snow or strong winds can be all it takes to topple even the mightiest oak. Consider having any trees within striking distance of your home taken down before the next storm.

Bring in the reinforcements

A home is only as safe as its weakest spots. If you live in an area prone to severe weather, you need to do something about those spots. Get a professional out to reinforce your garage door, and consider installing storm shutters over your windows and glass doors.

The elements can be brutal on your home. From minor inconveniences to major repairs, Mother Nature really knows how to dish out the damage. But you aren’t helpless. Your best defense is a strong offense. Stay vigilant, smart, and proactive, and your home will be able to weather any storm.
 

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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