According to 2018 data, tropical cyclones were the costliest natural disaster, followed by wildfires. These two types of natural disasters account for over 50% of the damages cost in 2018. Severe thunderstorms and winter storms were also responsible for costly damage. While natural disasters can’t be prevented, it’s important to know which areas of your home are most likely to be damaged.
Roofs are very susceptible to natural disasters because it’s your home’s first line of defense. Many types of natural disasters can cause roof damage. These include strong winds, hail, falling trees, flying debris, snowstorms, wildfires, and earthquakes.
Some types of roof damage are easily visible. Large holes and missing shingles are examples. However, other types of damage are less obvious. These include buckling or swaying in the roof. When inspecting your roof for damage, start from the attic. Check for sunlight coming through the roof into the attic, which indicates a hole in the roof. Next, use a flashlight to check for any dark patches or sagging areas. Next, it’s best to climb a ladder so you can get a closeup view of all areas of the roof. Check for cracks or curling in the shingles, clogged or damaged gutters, and bent or detached flashing, particularly around vents and chimneys. If there is any damage to your roof, it’s important to get it repaired immediately. Waiting allows your roof to be exposed to the elements, which will cause more damage over time.
Basements commonly sustain water damage. This can occur due to flooding, storm surges, or extremely heavy rains. Since they are the lowest level of the home, they are the most susceptible to flood damage. If your basement is flooded, you’ll need to remove any belongings. If electrical outlets came into contact with water, turn off the associated breakers. You’ll likely need to have them replaced. You can dry the basement itself with fans after you’ve removed the water.
Stone and Concrete
Concrete is a strong and stable material. However, concrete and stonework can also be damaged during natural disasters. Walkways, driveways, and porches can be damaged during severe freeze-thaw cycles. De-icers and salt used in snowstorms can also damage the concrete. Proper installation can significantly minimize the risks of damage. Earthquakes often damage concrete and stonework as well. This can include the foundation and stonework walls in addition to other areas.
Concrete is reasonably resistant to fire. The material isn’t combustible, so it doesn’t act as a fuel source for a fire. Most ready mixed concrete can withstand up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s easy to spot damage to exterior concrete and stonework. However, if you suspect damage to the foundation, it should be inspected by a professional. Cracks in the walls of your home and doors and windows that no longer open or close properly can be signs of foundation damage.
Windows are at risk during natural disasters with high winds. The winds themselves can shatter windows, as can flying debris. Hail often breaks windows as well. Double pane windows are less likely to shatter during these types of natural disasters. The vibration from earthquakes can also destroy windows, particularly large picture windows. When experiencing a natural disaster, it’s important to avoid the windows in your home. You should also pull curtains and blinds. Boarding or taping windows before hurricanes can help prevent this damage.
Siding is similar to your roof. It’s on the outside of your home, which makes it more susceptible to damage. Wind can cause the siding to split or come off. Hail and flying debris can cause dents in your siding. Vinyl siding will also melt in high heat, so it is susceptible to wildfires as well. Checking siding for damage can be done with a visual inspection. Check for dents and splits in the siding, and any areas where it may have come loose. If you have wood siding, you should also feel the siding in different areas to check for soft spots.
Natural disasters are beyond our control. However, it’s important to inspect your home for damage after a disaster and make any needed repairs. Smaller types of damage can lead to more significant damage over time if it isn’t repaired.
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