Defend Your Property Against High Winds

Hurricanes, tornadoes, and derechos wreak havoc on everything in their path. The damage to ministry buildings and property can be substantial. You may feel powerless when it comes to these intense winds, severe weather, and tropical storms—but you’re not.  

Here are eight things to check on while the weather is calm. Use this list to help minimize, and even prevent, wind damage.

1. Keep tabs on your roof.

The roof covering (asphalt or cedar shingles, metal, rubber) is one of the most vulnerable components of a building when exposed to high winds. Routine maintenance can prolong the life of your roofing material and can reduce roof damage during an event.

  • Plan several inspections throughout the year to monitor the condition of your roof, particularly around season changes.

  • Look for tears, bubbles, cracks, and ponding water on flat roofs.

  • Remove excess debris and inspect for loose or missing materials following storms or roof work. Look for left-behind tools and equipment.

  • Contact a licensed roof contractor to create and conduct a preventative maintenance plan. 

Read more maintenance tips for Flat Roofs and Shingled Roofs

2. Check perimeter flashing.

Roof flashing refers to the strips of metal or other material installed around the roof edge where the roof cover meets the wall. When the flashing is compromised, it leaves important building and roof systems vulnerable to wind-driven rain. This can cause significant damage.

  • Check for loose or ill-fitted perimeter flashing several times a year.

  • Hire a contractor to repair loose or damaged flashing per the manufacturer instructions or guidance.

3. Inspect roof-mounted equipment.

Roof-mounted equipment includes satellite dishes, security equipment, signs, HVAC units, vents and ducts, pipes, and more. 

During severe weather, unsecured equipment is subject to sliding, lifting, and overturning. This can cause considerable damage to a roof, roof failure, and potential water intrusion.

  • Securely attach equipment to an adequate roof support, commonly called a curb, which is attached to the roofing structure. Inspect equipment for any loose or missing connections.

  • Inspect for loose flashing around equipment, curbs, and roof hatches.

  • Clear all debris around and under roof-mounted equipment that can cause water to pond.

  • Ensure fasteners on service panels are in place to prevent dislodging.

4. Prevent skylight leaks.

When damaged, ill-fitting, or improperly attached, a skylight breech can lead to significant interior water damage. 

  • Regularly inspect skylights for structural cracks, damage, and leaks.

  • Inspect the roof area where the skylight is attached and address any rotting with a contractor.

5. Minimize risk from flying debris.

Any unsecured item around ministry property can become wind-borne debris during a storm and cause property damage and injure people. 

  • Regularly inspect outdoor signs to ensure connections function properly, have no missing bolts or screws, and are free from rust.

  • Before a storm, store outdoor equipment in a safe location protected from high winds.

  • Keep trees trimmed and healthy. Remove limbs that could fall on a roof, structure, or power lines.

  • Aggregate or pavers on built-up roofs can become airborne, especially during tornados and hurricanes, and cause extensive property damage. If you have this type of roof, talk to a contractor about phasing it out.

6. Examine HVAC units.

One type of unit, a packaged terminal air conditioner (PTAC), is commonly found in commercial buildings and building additions. If your ministry uses a PTAC, it is important to ensure it is professionally installed and able to resist wind-driven rain. Leakage of these units often results in costly damage.

  • Ensure all PTAC units are tilted toward the outside of the building. Research from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety found that internally tilted PTAC units can cause interior water damage from wind-driven rain. Hire a contractor to fix the unit.

  • Inspect the weather stripping between the PTAC unit and sleeve to ensure it has been installed correctly and consistently.

  • Look for improper or damaged caulking around the PTAC unit.

7. Survey doors and entryways.

When damaged by wind or debris, commercial doors can lead to interior damage and costly roof repairs.

  • Inspect the brackets that connect the door frame to the structure. Look for loose brackets, missing bolts or nuts, and broken pieces.

  • Examine panels for damage, warping, and rusting. For significant damage, fix or replace the door.

  • Ask a contractor if your doors are rated for wind conditions in your area. Retrofit improvements can be a cost-effective upgrade.

When It Rains Inside: Defend ministry property against water damage

8. Maintain windows, window frames, and shutters.

Professionally fitted windows and shutters keep wind and water out of your building. In areas susceptible to frequent severe weather, hurricanes, or tornadoes, windows and door glass should include impact-rated glass or a shutter system. Proper maintenance and regular inspections ensure the strength and easy deployment of these protection systems well before a storm.

  • Check impact-rated windows for any damage or ill-fitted gaskets. Hire a contractor to fix damaged gaskets.

  • Inspect the connections of permanent shutters. Ensure all fasteners are properly embedded into the structure and that shutters are tightly attached.

  • Regularly test shutter operation. This helps ensure the shutters will deploy prior to a high wind event.

  • Store temporary shutters, including plywood, flat and in a dry location. Include these on your regular inspections, too. Look for rodent, dry rot, and water damage. 

More Storm Resources

Updated May 2024

The information provided on this article is intended to be helpful, but does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for the advice from a licensed attorney in your area. We strongly encourage you to regularly consult with a local attorney as part of your risk management program.