How to prepare your home for extreme winds and storms

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The weather has been a bit hit and miss so far this summer - and now we have the latest weather warning. Storms are set to sweep the nation this weekend. - and with it the prospect of flying fences and roaming roof tiles.

Sadly, storms often equal some property damage for many of us. But there are some steps you can take to protect your home before the storm arrives.

There are both immediate and mid-term solutions to protecting your home, and we’ve put together some advice that covers both options. Not only that, but should damage ensue, we’ve given you some recommendations to get your property safe and secure again.

Andy Simms, trade expert from MyBuilder, said that routine checks should be done on our properties with or without the threat of a storm. However, with the impending arrival of extreme weather, there are some effective last minute checks and tasks to undertake that will minimise damage.

“It’s really important to keep an eye on your property’s state, including roof health and the stability of any chimney stacks. If you don’t, and damage ensues, you could find that your home insurance won’t cover it.

“However, if these haven’t been done don’t panic. There are short term measures you can take which will minimise your risks, and mean you are aware of any issues that might need sorting after the storm.

“If you notice any issues during these checks, it’s worth calling a professional in to try and rectify before the storm - or book them in to come out as soon as they can after it.”

Checks to make before the storm include:

Taking down loose fence panels and posts 
Though this might sound dramatic, it’s better to take down insecure panels and posts than leave them to be battered by the wind, where they could be blown down and cause further damage to property. Ideally, take them down and secure them in a safe place where they can be reinstated (properly) later. Rotten wood is likely to fall victim to strong wings, and can cause serious accidents if left unsecured.

Secure guttering
Guttering tends to be an area we ignore, but it can cause a whole heap of problems if you do. In fact, damage caused by blocked gutters is often not covered under home insurance policies. Our guttering and downpipes do the vital job of keeping the bulk of wet weather away from our walls, where persistent moisture can lead to damp. Blocked gutters can cause flooding and leaks in your home, while loose guttering is a hazard in high winds. Make sure all sections of your guttering are firmly secured and attached to the next piece, to allow it to do its job properly.

Check your chimney
Don’t do this if winds are already high, but if you get a chance to check out your chimney pre storm it might save you some issues. Chimney cowls, pots, and guards are all at risk during high winds, and can cause damage to your roof, gardens, cars, or people should they fly away. If you notice any issues, it’s worth getting an expert out, but a quick fix can be to remove any loose parts for the duration of the storm.

Look for loose tiles
Loose tiles are probably the first things to go when the gusts and gales arrive, and can be a particular problem for older roofs which haven’t been checked or inspected for several years.
Even a single missing tile - or just one that has shifted out of place - can leave a gap big enough for water to enter your roof space, which can cause considerable damage if not fixed quickly. If you can re-secure a tile then do, but a really wonky one might be best to be removed and reinstated after the storm.

Remove any risky tree branches
After any storm you’re likely to see twigs and leaves all over the place, but these are unlikely to cause much damage. However, larger branches can break windows, cars, fences - and people! If any of the trees on your property have obviously fractured branches, it’s best to remove them before the storm. Make sure you store them somewhere safe to prevent them causing problems.

Learn how to switch off utilities 
Research commissioned by uncovered that millions of homeowners and renters are putting their lives in danger and risk causing thousands of pounds worth of damage, because they don’t know how to turn off the essential live services supplying their homes. The survey revealed that a third (33 percent) wouldn’t know how to turn off their gas in the event of an accident, almost half (43 percent) don’t know how to turn their gas supply off and a fifth wouldn’t know how to switch the electricity off. Almost one in five (19 percent) don’t know how to turn off their water. Not knowing how to locate these vital safety features can have potentially lethal consequences, as well as being costly to repair devastating water or fire damage. It’s important to learn these skills before a storm as the likelihood of emergencies rises.

After the storm

Check fences
Often a casualty of high winds, checking your fences is essential after extreme weather. If a panel is down, assess if it can be put back up or if it’s too damaged. Before repairing your fence, speak to your neighbours. There is a common misconception that people tend to own the fence to the left - or the right - of their back garden, but there are no hard and fast rules. In fact, even consulting your property deed or the Land Registry might not help, as there is no requirement in England or Wales for boundary ownership to be specified. However, you may see a small “T” next to a boundary - if this falls on your side, then it is your duty to maintain. If there are two “T”s together (forming what looks like a “H”) then it is a shared boundary that you and your neighbour own and must maintain between you.

Look at upgrading fencing
If your fence has taken a battering, or is prone to falling over, then it might be a good time to consider replacing it. There are options to consider now including “wind resistant” fencing, useful if you live in an area with limited protection from storms. Find a local fencer.

Re-secure guttering
Probably a job for the professionals after a storm. Getting a fascias, soffits and guttering specialist to fix your issue isn’t usually an expensive job, but can save you a lot of hassle in the long run. Guttering is essential for the health of your house, and missing damage to it can have disastrous consequences.

Rate your roof 
Your roof is the area most likely to receive damage in high winds, and missing the issue can cause leaks and expensive damage. While it might be tempting to check out your roof yourself, it can be extremely dangerous, and it’s always best to call in a local roofer.

Trim your trees
If you have lost trees during a storm, call in a tree surgeon to safely dispose of them. If you are concerned about any remaining trees’ stability, it’s worth getting them checked to make sure they are still structurally sound.


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