Assessing Storm Damage Repair and Minimizing Your Home's Risk of Damage

March 12, 2019

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For many homeowners, the process of assessing needed storm damage repair and finding a good contractor to perform those repairs can be as unsettling as living through a storm itself! Even if a homeowner's insurance policy pays for repairs needed after a storm, fire, flooding, and the like, a homeowner might still be tempted to manage some of this work on their own, just to forego having to find a contractor, get quotes, wait for the completion of the repairs, and so on.

Assessing storm damage repair and repair work should always be left to a professional. Roof repair, water damage cleanup, and sewage backup cleanup are dangerous jobs that can result in injury or damage to one's health. A homeowner can also cause more damage to their home by trying to manage storm damage cleanup on their own.

Note a bit of information on the process of assessing damage after a storm or any such natural disaster, so you better understand why it's good to leave this work to a professional, and the right type of professional to hire for your home's repair work. It's also helpful to consider a few tips on minimizing storm damage and potential damage caused by any natural disaster, so you can do everything possible to keep your home in good repair even during the worst weather conditions.

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Why Choose Local Storm Damage Contractors

After severe weather moves through an area, contractors might begin knocking on people's doors, offering to do a free assessment of their roof, flooded basement, house exterior, and other such areas of the property. It can be tempting to use the cheapest contractor or the first one to visit your home for this assessment and repairs, as this would mean saving some money and not having to hunt around for a contractor.

However, storm damage contractors working for a company out of state will usually want to visit the next storm-ravaged area as soon as possible. In turn, they might rush through the repair work and cut as many corners as possible. Out-of-state contractors might also be unfamiliar with local building codes and regulations, and may be difficult to contact if you're unhappy with the work! Rely on local storm damage specialists with a reputation for satisfied customers to avoid these risks and potential complications.

Why Choose Storm Damage Specialists

After a storm, you want to rely on specialists rather than a general contractor or repairperson. While a general contractor might be able to perform some minor repairs around your home after it's suffered storm damage, consider why it's good to rely on a storm damage specialist instead:

  • A specialist experienced in roof repairs after a storm will do more than look for missing or loose shingles. He or she will know to check for water leaks inside the home's attic or crawlspace, and to note if metal fascia or flashing has come loose around a home's chimney, vents, and outer edges of exterior walls.
  • Storms can cause structural damage to a home, especially if the house is hit with a fallen tree or other such heavy debris. Failure to fix this damage can lead to a house settling and shifting so that cracks in the ceilings and walls eventually appear. Structural damage can also lead to future mold growth. A storm damage specialist will know how to check for potential structural damage and will ensure this damage is fixed thoroughly and adequately.
  • While the roof of a house usually takes the brunt of abuse during a storm, it's also good to check for damage along the home's exterior walls, window frames, gutters, and elsewhere. A general contractor might not know to look for damage in any area other than the roof so that your home's walls and other such spots are left in disrepair.

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What is Storm Damage Repair

After a storm, a home might need more than a few shingles replaced. A severely damaged home or property might need any of the following repairs by a qualified professional:

  • A contractor will remove downed tree branches and, if required, lop off split branches that are in danger of falling or which might be resting on a structure's roof, power lines, and the like. Twigs and other such debris are swept or otherwise removed from a roof and shingles and tiles are inspected.
  • Power lines are repaired or replaced.
  • After a flood, a home's electrical systems are inspected for water damage, which often increases the risk of an electrical shock inside the home. If sewers have backed up through the drains of a house, the interior and exterior pipes are cleaned or replaced as needed.
  • A home's damaged framework is often cut away so that new studs and beams can be attached in their place. Drywall and other such surface materials are removed and replaced as needed. Carpets are often steam cleaned or replaced.
  • Damaged shingles are removed, and a contractor might also pull up shingles in good condition so that he or she can inspect the roofing paper and structural framework under the roof's tiles. Intact shingles are put back into place and new shingles added to the roof as needed.
  • Dented siding is bumped out, and holes or cracks are filled.
  • Chipped bricks are replaced or patched as needed. Damaged mortar is repaired or replaced. In some cases, a chimney stack might require rebuilding.
  • Damaged and dented gutters are reconnected to the home or outright replaced as needed.
  • Chips and dents in wood window frames are filled in and the frames repainted. Fresh caulk might be applied around those frames, to fill in areas of damage.

What Are Signs of Sewage Backup?

Exterior sewer pipes can become clogged and back up into a home for many reasons; for example, tree roots might wrap around those pipes and cause them to crack. In turn, dirt and sediment then seep into the pipe itself and cause clogs. Floods can also overwhelm drains and cause a sewer to back up into a home. Note a few signs of a backed up sewer on your property, so you know when to call for damage repair and cleanup:

  • One clogged drain doesn't necessarily indicate a clogged sewer line, but when more than one drain in the home is clogged, this often means that outside pipes are blocked and need clearing.
  • Water that backs up or comes out of other drains when you open a tap or faucet often indicates a blocked sewer line.
  • Having to repeatedly flush the toilets in the home often indicates blocks or clogs in outside sewer lines.

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What to Do After a Sewage Backup

The first thing to do after a sewage backup is shut off all the power in the home, and then shut off the main water valve. Call the water and power companies and have them shut off the utilities from their office as well, to ensure the home is safe from live power lines and additional floodwaters. It's then best to vacate the house and call a sewage backup cleanup specialist to handle the problem. However, if the backup is minimal, you might note some tips on how to perform this cleanup yourself:

  • Open all the windows in the home for adequate ventilation. Wear a breathing mask for added protection.
  • Add a small bit of household bleach to any standing water; this will help prevent the spread of bacteria and contain the contamination while you perform sewage cleanup.
  • Shovel solid debris into a thick plastic bag and seal the bag as tightly as possible. Double-bag this debris if needed. If you cannot take this bag outside immediately, keep it on a concrete floor, in a rubber tote or bucket, or in a bathtub so that no liquid waste seeps into a flooring surface.
  • Dispose of as many contaminated items as possible, including area rugs and wall-to-wall carpeting.
  • Use a solution of one part bleach to three parts water and thoroughly soak stained walls and floors. After scrubbing, use hot water and rinse the area thoroughly.
  • Furniture and carpeting that you don't dispose of should be cleaned by a professional. Ensure that they know you need these items sanitized after sewage cleanup and not simply shampooed.

How to Minimize Storm Damage

A homeowner can't always avoid damage to their house during a storm, flash flood, or other such natural disasters. However, there are several steps a person can take to protect their home as much as possible and minimize potential storm damage, as well as the risk of a backed-up sewer or drain in the house. Consider a few tips and bits of advice:

  • A well-maintained roof will lose fewer shingles in a storm. Old, brittle, and loose roofing tiles are more likely to blow away in any wind, and especially during a strong storm! Keeping your home's roof in good repair and covered with new, sturdy shingles will help reduce the risk of losing tiles during inclement weather; have the roof inspected annually and reroof the home as often as needed to keep it in good repair.
  • Fallen tree branches can damage a home's structure during a storm. Keep mature trees on your property trimmed properly and especially before your area's stormy season, to reduce the number of fallen or broken branches.
  • Small items around the home can become projectiles in heavy storms. Put away firewood, garden tools, patio furniture, small grills and barbecues, children’s toys, and anything else that isn't secure before those winds kick up!
  • Don't put anything in the toilets or drains other than water, human waste, and bathroom tissue that is safe for pipes. Even small items like cigarette butts can cause clogs and eventual sewage backups in the home.
  • Have the outside plumbing pipes inspected regularly, and note any encroaching tree roots, sinkholes, and other such obstructions. Those plumbing lines might also need regular sound or water blasting, to prevent clogs from forming.

It's also good to call for storm damage repair as soon as possible after any inclement weather, to have your home repaired quickly and avoid the potential for water leaks, resultant mold growth, and structural damage.

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