The Southeast coast recently went through Hurricane Matthew and, although hurricanes directly affect only a portion of the United States, building and roof preparation lessons can be applied to any area of the country where severe weather can pop up.
The roof is the most important building component when it comes to weather protection and the most vulnerable during a hurricane or other high-wind event. Proper precautions can limit damage. If you’re not able to conduct these preparations yourself, don’t hesitate to call in a commercial roofing professional or other construction expert in your area.
Here are a few important things to consider:
Exterior of the Building
Walk the perimeter of building to ensure that any unsecured objects cannot become airborne projectiles. This includes trash cans, signs, trees limbs, and loose building materials. Trees should have all dead or broken branches removed and should be trimmed away from the building to prevent possible fires.
Windows and doors should be inspected for leaks, insect damage and proper sealant. If windows and doors are not equipped with hurricane shutters, these can easily be fabricated from plywood. It’s a good idea to have the plywood on-hand and pre-cut for fast installation in the event of an upcoming storm.
Perimeter of the Building
Roof edge details should be checked to ensure that they are tight fitting and properly sealed. Corners of the building are the most susceptible to wind damage and additional precautions may be necessary in these areas.
All debris and loose materials should be removed from the roof. Leaf grates, if part of the roofing system, should be cleaned and secured in a manner that keeps them in place during high winds.
Even a small gap that appears in a seam between roof membrane sections can allow water and wind to penetrate, which will widen the gap and could provide enough surface area to allow strong winds to rip the membrane apart. Your inspection should include making sure that your roof membrane seams are secure. Repairs in this situation should be done by a professional.
HVAC/Rooftop Equipment/Other Penetrations
Check all sealants on penetrations and terminations. All roof mounted equipment (HVAC units, satellite dishes, antennas, duct work, etc.) should be secured in a manner which will not allow it to be moved easily. If it can be moved by hand it could become displaced in a storm. All service panel doors should be inspected to ensure that they are properly fastened. Any missing fasteners should be replaced.
If civil authorities tell you to evacuate, do it! Buildings and building components that are damaged or destroyed during a severe storm can be replaced. You can’t.