Prepare for severe strong winds
Gales are the most common cause of damage and disruption in the UK. Once a major wind storm hits, it may be too late to protect your home and property.
There are several things that can be done beforehand to ensure wind damage is limited.
Plan ahead - Roofing
Strong winds can put pressure on the exterior of your home but keeping on top of repair work will help reduce the damage during storms.
Do not use ladders during adverse weather conditions. When weather is suitable, the safest ladder to use is a heavy duty triple extension ladder. Place the bottom quarter of its total height away from the base of the house. Make sure it’s on firm, flat ground and not tilting left or right, and at least 3 rungs should be overlapping for stability. Always have someone holding the ladder at the bottom.
The roof is one of the most vulnerable parts of your home. During high winds, speeds vary and quickly change direction. This puts enormous pressure on all parts of a building, especially the roof. Be sure to secure the roof properly to avoid damage.
One of the easiest things you can do to check the status of your roof, especially if you're not comfortable getting on a ladder to look at your roof, is to check it from the attic. What's happening inside can tell you a lot about what's happening on the outside.
Most of the below can be spotted just by looking at it, great if you don't want to risk damaging insulation.
- Sagging of material
- Rusted nails or stains around nails
- Signs of water damage or leaking
- Dark spots and trails
- Black mould
- Outside light showing through the roof
If you spot any of the above, have it checked over by a roofing specialist. One small issue can often be a symptom of a much larger problem.
When inspecting your roof from the outside, stay off it unless you know what you are doing. Either view from the ground with binoculars or walk around your home's exterior, inspecting for signs of damage, sagging, and aging.
Take notes of any possible problem areas, or parts in need of closer inspection.
If you're confident enough to make a closer inspection, carefully use a ladder to give it the once over. You should never try to walk across your roof and if you are in any doubt about the condition of your roof, have it checked over by a roofing specialist.
Plan ahead - Sheds
If you have a shed, make sure that it is in good condition to withstand adverse weather conditions. In particular, check that your roofing felt is secure. Replacing split and worn roofing felt shed is an important task you need to do if you want your garden equipment, tools and furniture to stay dry. Roof sealants will help ensure that joins are secure and weatherproof.
If you've not got roofing felt on your shed, it's easy to install and flexible, strong and durable. Felting your shed roof will go a long way to weatherproofing and protecting valuable tools in extreme weather conditions.
Watch our step by step video guide and learn how to felt a shed with confidence:
Plan ahead - Guttering
Regular checks of your guttering will help you avoid damage during harsh weather conditions. The small amount of time taken to properly maintain your guttering will benefit you in the long term, so use dry days as an excuse to get outside and check that your guttering is properly prepared for the worst of weathers.
The correct type of drainage allows the flow of water to be directed away from your home without building up onto your roof. If water penetrates your home, woodwork can perish, mould will begin to grow, condensation forms and brickwork can erode. Damp patches quickly spread and health problems can become an issue.
Because of its positioning, the weather will inevitably cause wear and tear in your guttering. If you're expecting strong winds, you'll need to stabilise guttering to avoid permanent damage to your roof. Ensure all guttering is securely fastened to your roof to avoid it loosening, and coming away from the house. Hips, ridges and flashings can become detached in windy weather if pointing is not maintained. Look in gutters or gullies for signs of mortar droppings.
Plan ahead - Fencing
Fences provide practical privacy and shelter against the blustery weather, but can also bear the brunt of much of the bad weather, be it rain or high winds.
Make sure all your boundary fences are secure and posts are firmly set in the ground.
Wooden fences are prone to rot or attack by insects, making them weak. To prolong their life, treat them regularly with wood stain and preservative.
The part of a wooden fence post most likely to rot is the section buried underground. If not reinforced in time, it will eventually collapse and pull down the entire fence, especially in high winds.
If you live in an area prone to high winds, it's worth rethinking your fence. Wooden fences create a block for the wind that eventually forces the fence to the ground. For strong wind resistance, you need to build a fence with gaps in it to let the wind blow through. This reduces the force the wind has on the fence and therefore reduces the chances that it will fall.
Plan ahead - Maintaining large trees
Falling trees and blowing debris in storms often cause fatalities and severe structural damage. It is your responsibility to maintain trees in your garden, removing weak branches and trimming trees that could fall on your home and cause damage during a storm.
Many people have a tree topped or removed because they are afraid it is too big and will fall over. Trees do sometimes fall over or drop limbs, but never because they are too big.
Removing whole tops of trees or large branches creates unsightly and sometimes hazardous rotten trees. It stimulates rapid growth of small, weak limbs which are more likely to drop, damaging your home and the surrounding areas. If you want to keep your tree small and safe, topping is not the way to go.
Good pruning will reduce the bulk of a tree, letting in more light and allowing wind to pass through. Reducing wind resistance by "taking out the sail" will make your tree safer.
If you're worried about the size of your tree it's a good idea to contact a local tree surgeon.
Plan ahead - Improvements inside
Good ventilation helps reduce condensation and damp, but draughts are uncontrolled: they let in too much cold air and waste too much heat.
Walls, doors, and windows are the protective shell of your home. Draught proofing your home will protect you from extreme weather and reduce heating costs.
Doors and windows
Doors and windows should be your first step when you wind proof the inside of your home. Both are notorious for letting in cold air. Weatherproof doors and windows by sealing them, both inside and out, to cut down on heating and cooling costs.
The easiest and simplest way to draught proof your doors and windows is with foam weather stripping insulating tape. This product can be fitted to doors, windows and loft hatches, to prevent draughts. Foam weather stripping comes in a roll which is made out of a flat foamy sponge material. On one side of the foam is a removable strip like a roll of tape, and underneath that strip is a strong adhesive used to apply the stripping. Doors can also be fitted with brush seals and letterbox draught excluders to offer extra protection.
During high winds, close and secure loft doors with bolts, if possible. Wind storms particularly pummel the roof which can cause loft doors to swing open, damaging ceilings, walls and the door itself.