Defend Your Property Against Damage from High Winds

Eight steps to protect your property before a storm

Before high winds wreak havoc on your church or school’s property, consider addressing these eight areas from Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).

  1. 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 and after storms.

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

  • Remove excess debris and inspect for loose or missing materials regularly, and after any roof contractor does work on the roof.

Consider hiring a licensed roof contractor to conduct a scheduled preventative maintenance plan. Learn more about how to inspect and maintain your roof.

  1. 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 systems including the roof cover vulnerable to the elements (such as wind-driven rain) which can cause significant damage.

  • Check for loose or ill-fitted perimeter flashing.

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

  1. Roof-Mounted Equipment

During a high-wind event, unsecured equipment is subject to sliding, lifting, and overturning. This can cause significant damage to a roof and lead to water intrusion.

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

  • Inspect for loose flashing around roof-mounted equipment, curbs, and roof hatches, which could lead to potential failures of the unit’s structure and water intrusion.

  • Clear all debris around and under roof-mounted equipment. Debris can cause water to pond, which could cause costly damage to the roof and interior.

  • Ensure service panels have all fasteners in place, so panels do not become dislodged.

  1. Skylights

When damaged or not properly attached, skylights can cause a breech in the roof, leading to significant interior water damage.

  • Regularly inspect skylights for cracks and leaks; also inspect the roof area where the skylight is attached and address any rotting.

  • Hire a contractor to repair or replace damaged skylights.

  1. Flying Debris

Unsecured items can become wind-borne debris, causing damage to property and people.

  • Throughout the year and after storms, inspect outdoor signs to ensure connections function properly, have no missing bolts or screws, and are free from rust.

  • Before a storm, verify that sign connections are adequate or remove the sign and properly store.

  • Store outdoor equipment in a safe location protected from high winds.

  • Identify and remove trees and branches that could fall on the building walls or roof, or on power lines.

  • Avoid using built-up roofs with aggregate or pavers on the surface. Loose stones and pavers can become airborne, especially during tornados and hurricanes, causing more extensive property damage.

  1. Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner (PTAC)

Packaged terminal air conditioners, commonly found in hotels, are sometimes installed in building additions. If your church or school uses PTACs, it is important to make sure they are properly installed and able to resist wind-driven rain. Costly damage can be caused by the leakage of these units.

  • Ensure all PTAC units are tilted toward the outside of the building. IBHS research 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—otherwise, this can increase the risk of water entry.

  • Examine caulking around PTAC units to determine if any damage or improper caulking has occurred.

  1. Commercial Doors

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

  • Inspect the brackets that connect the door frame to the structure. Ensure they are tightly secured, not missing any bolts or nuts, and are not broken.

  • Examine all the elements of the panels for dents, damage, warping and/or rusting. If significant, hire a contractor to fix or replace the commercial door.

  • Consider contacting a commercial door contractor to determine if your doors are rated for wind conditions in your area. Retrofit improvements can be cost-effective.

  1. Windows and Shutters

Professionally fitted windows and shutters function to keep wind and water out of your church or school. In high-wind areas, especially areas susceptible to hurricanes or tornadoes, windows and glass in doors should be properly protected with impact-rated glass or a shutter system. Proper maintenance ensures the strength and easy deployment of these protection systems well before a storm.

  • When conducting regular inspections, check impact-rated windows for any damage or ill-fitted gaskets. This could lead to water infiltration and other costly damages. 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 that all shutters operate properly. This will ensure the shutters will deploy prior to a high wind event.

  • Store and maintain all temporary shutters, such as plywood, flat and in a dry location.