Hurricane Preparation Tips

No matter if it’s months in advance or the middle of the season, it’s never to late to heed hurricane preparation tips. Having the things you need on hand while you and your family weather the storm if a wise precaution to take. Gathering the necessary supplies is undoubtedly the most time consuming task.

Unless, of course, we’re talking about more than the stuff we need.

Preparing your home

There are many steps you can take to make your home more resistant to the winds and torrential rain of a severe storm. There are products on the market for that specific purpose. The more structurally sound you can make your home, the better it will withstand this amazing, albeit dangerous, force of nature.

Windows and doors

Once the winds of a hurricane gain access to the inside of our home, things don’t bode well. In addition to glass and debris flying everywhere, the force causes an increase in pressure as the wind looks for a way to escape again. It races upward to the attic pushing into every nook and cranny in search of a way out. All the while, the howling force of the wind outside continues to beat against the house. The combined forces can cause the roof to come completely off!

Reinforcing your windows and doors goes a long way in preventing this catastrophe.

If you have hurricane shutters stored away, never neglect putting them up. Technology lets us know a hurricane is on the way well in advance. You’ll have plenty of time.

Does your home have impact resistant windows? They withstand the force of a 2×4 being hurled at them with the strength of a hurricane. That’s how they conduct the large missile test. It was put in place by Miami-Dade County’s hurricane resistant building code for windows. It’s the strictest in the country.

Windows and doors that survive the rigorous testing process earn the right to proclaim hurricane resistance. They earn their energy star rating according to overall performance.

They have hurricane resistant garage doors on the market, but it’s a fairly easy fix to beef up the one you have installed now. It’s not expensive. Moreover, we should note that the garage door is usually found to be the initial point of entry in homes destroyed by hurricanes.

Protect against uplift

Better anchoring your roof to your home nearly triples its structural integrity. There are several ways to do this. If you’re building a new home, installing hurricane clips or straps now is the way to go. If your home was built before any type of building codes were in place, they can be installed after the fact. It’s a tricky process, however. It’s best to have a professional handle the job.

You can also brace the underside of your roof using 2×4’s with little expense.

Free flowing

Hurricanes pack more than their fair share of water. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear. It makes a difference. If the water has no where to go, you can bet it will be finding it’s way through your roof and into your attic.

Harvest the fruit

It’s hard to lose the crop before it has a chance to ripen, but every piece of fruit will become a projectile.

Creature comforts

Another form of hurricane preparation comes in the form of gathering supplies. Rather than waiting until a warning is issued, taking the time to prepare now is one less thing to worry about at the last minute.

First and foremost, we want to note that if an evacuation order has been issued for your area, please, heed it. If there is any way possible for you and your family to flee the area, the sooner you do so the better. Leaving early allows you to avoid the chaos of last minute madness.

Supplies

If you are going to ride the storm out at home, Ready suggests that you have a three day supply of food and a gallon of drinking water per day for everyone in the home. This includes your pets.

Suggested food items are:

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables (Don’t forget the can opener!)
  • Dry cereal or granola
  • Protein bars
  • Peanut butter
  • Dried fruit
  • Canned juice
  • High energy foods
  • Baby food & formula
  • Comfort foods

Remember to pack any necessary medications and stock up on first aid supplies. Storing these items in a backpack in case immediate evacuation becomes necessary is a wise idea.

Be ready to function without power. Flashlights and extra batteries are a must for the supply list. You also need a battery operated emergency radio. You want to stay abreast of the ongoing situation or possible evacuation information.

Gather blankets, pillows, clothes, shoes, and socks. If forced to abandon your home and head for a shelter, having these items ready to go at a moment’s notice might make the difference between having them or going without.

If you have children, make sure to select comfort items that mean something to them. Having special items with them during the event can ease their minds. Games, cards, and a few toys provide distraction from what’s going on around them as well.

That said, if you have items of great sentimental value, gather them up and put them in the safest place possible. Or, on top of the go pile if you’re evacuating.

Lastly, important documentation, such as birth certificates and social security cards, can be a pain to replace. It’s a good idea to have these items on hand as well as some cash! Extended power outages render debit and credit cards useless.

Lacking for nothing

You don’t have to have survived a hurricane to know that it leaves a path of destruction. News coverage tells the tale. Depending on circumstances, there could be times when relief doesn’t arrive right away.

Having the things you need to provide for your family is the ultimate “just in case” measure. It could be that you will never have to experience such a storm. We sincerely hope that is the case.

However, if you do find yourself in a hurricane’s path, being prepared provides continuous peace of mind this season and for all that follow it.

DIY Window Maintenance Tips

We intend for our windows to last for years. However, the elements don’t see things they same way we do. Wind, rain, and sun damage occur if we don’t stay on top of things. Window maintenance is an important aspect of keeping our homes in the best shape they can be.

If unmaintained, the outside elements are relentless. They don’t give up until they find their way deep inside your home. The resulting damage can go unnoticed for a long time if no one is paying attention.

That’s not a pretty picture, no matter how you look at it.

Do-able DIY

Window maintenance is not exceptionally difficult nor is it expensive. Both these facts make it a DIYer’s dream job. Okay, so maybe that’s taking it over the top a bit. It can be time consuming and a bit tedious. However, the satisfaction of a job well done says something for itself, don’t you think?

Clean machine

If your windows are made to open in any way, they are simple machines. Letting dirt and grime accumulate can eventually affect your windows performance. Periodically clean the glass, tracks, frame, and window sill. Keeping them clean not only makes them look great, it keeps things working at peak performance.

Clean windows make it easier to detect any damage to the glass, caulking, or frame work. Sponge brushes work great for getting into the nooks and crannies, such as window track grooves. It’s easy to find a recipe for a glass cleaner online or purchase a ready-made product from the store.

Drafts go both ways

Whether it’s through a crack in the glass or the tiniest hole in the caulking or weather stripping, air finds a way to get in and out of your home. It’s amazing how even the smallest of openings affects the energy efficiency of your home. Not only does the outside air come inside, the air you are trying to keep warm or cool escapes. Therefore, window maintenance directly affects your utility costs.

That fact alone gives people the incentive to look for these culprits. You’ll find them disguised as cracks or hole in the caulking, defective weather stripping, and even cracks in window panes.

Reapplying caulk to an area when you discover damage is a great long term benefit. Also, a quick fix for cracked glass is to cover the crack with a strip of duct tape on either side of the glass. It should hold tight until you replace the pane.

Moisture is a mess in the making

Moisture comes in the form of rain, snow, or even humidity. It works its way into the structure of your home allowing mold, mildew, and wood rot to form. It starts at the place of entry, but keeps working its way into the inner recesses of your home.

If this happens over a long period of time, it comprises your home’s structural integrity. The long-term damage can be extensive. Not to mention, costly.

Routine window maintenance prevents moisture from taking a foothold. For instance, if you find some places where wood rot is setting in, scrape out the rotted place and fill with epoxy putty.

Are they all sealed up?

In addition to sealing your windows with caulk, if you have double or triple paned windows that have condensation on the inside glass you may have trouble. Double and triple paned windows provide added energy efficiency. If they were not certified reinforced windows, the space between the panes of glass is probably filled with argon gas. Air contains moisture which may allow condensation to form. If this happens, the most likely cause is that the argon gas has escaped.

The fix is probably to install a new window unit. Moreover, if you’re replacing one, it may be time to just replace them all.

There are some amazing window choices on the market today. In addition to any style and size you can imagine, impact resistant windows are a possibility as well.

Have we mentioned that windows today are extremely energy efficient? Shop around if you’re considering replacing the windows in your home. Check the energy star ratings and do the math. You are sure to discover that new windows pay for themselves over time in energy savings alone.

Speaking of sealing things up, we should mention your screens. Give them a good cleaning and check for any holes or tears.

Add a notch to the tool belt

Tackling your window maintenance is totally a Do-It-Yourself project as long as you feel comfortable with the process. Nothing is overly complicated. Just use common sense and always remember that safety comes first. When working on a ladder, for instance, resist the urge to lean over just a little farther so you can… reach… that last spot.

Taking the time to trudge down the ladder and move it over a bit counts as exercise at least. Lying in a heap on the ground with a ladder on top of you does not. No one wants to abruptly end their DIY project with a trip to the ER.

Moreover, should you discover more damage has occurred than you can scrape away with a putty knife, it’s probably a good idea to consult a professional.

Complete window replacement can get tricky. Not to mention dangerous! As a rule, ladders and glass are not a good mix for anyone. Let the professionals handle it!

When you’ve cleaned, caulked, weather stripped, and completed any minor frame repairs, you can sign this one off as a job well done.

Window maintenance is an important defense in preparing your home to stand against the elements. Adding it to your annual list of things to do is a wise choice.

Replacement Windows—Do It Yourself or Hire a Pro?

You’ve been considering it for awhile now. At last, the decision is made. You’ve seen your way clear to install replacement windows.

Good call.

In addition to adding curb appeal, your new windows should last for decades. Newer windows should equal a more energy efficient home as well. And if you decided on replacement windows that are impact resistant, you are providing your family with added protection. Both from storms and burglars!

You’re reading this so we’re going to assume that now you’re trying to make the decision whether to tackle this yourself or hire a professional.

Since you’re looking for advice, we’ll just put it out there.

First things first

We can think of two reasons you may want to have a professional install your replacement windows right off the bat.

  1. In the event that you botch the job, it’s going to be costly to have someone come in and set things right. Not to mention that you will be entirely responsible for the mistake. Most manufacturers won’t stand by their guarantee if the job wasn’t handled by an expert.
  2. You’ll be working with glass and ladders. Both of these equal a chance of a very serious accident in their own right. You’re taking both into your hands… at the same time! Not to mention that windows are bulky. Should bulky and balancing even go together in a sentence? It sounds a bit foreboding to us.

On the other hand

There’s a first time for everything. If you feel like you’re ready to take on this project, we’re behind you! Not under you though… just in case.

There are a few things we want to make sure you’ve considered first however.

Tools of the trade

Odds are if you’re an avid DIY’er you have most of this stuff already. It’s a pretty basic list. However, if you don’t, well, maybe window installation isn’t the best idea.

Seriously.

It can be dangerous.

That said, here you go.

  • Safety glasses
  • Caulk gun
  • Waterproof shims
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Hammer
  • Power drill
  • Screwdrivers
  • Putty knife
  • Utility knife
  • Small pry bar

How’d you do?

Time is money

When you consider the amount of money you will save versus the amount of time this job will take, you may reconsider too. Here’s some food for thought.

On the average, it takes 4-6 hours per window depending on your skill level. And, that’s on the ground floor. The second story involves more time and…

Taller ladders.

What’s your schedule look like?

Life is busy! Are you sure you have the time to commit? In short, this is one project you don’t want to shift to the back burner mid-way through.

It just wouldn’t look right.

Literally.

Then, again

We should mention the straight up advantages of hiring a professional. You shouldn’t just call the first name you see and set up the deal though. Ask friends and family for references. You can even search local reference sites. People aren’t shy about telling you what they think on the net, that’s for sure.

Contact a few companies for comparisons.

Questions for your quest

Ask some pertinent questions. We have a few in mind to get the ball rolling.

  • Are they certified? Professionally certified installers complete a training specific to the manufacturer. Or, instead, they have a stringent set of credentials to gain certification.
  • How long will the job take?
  • Will weather be an issue? Oh, by the way, what’s the wait for the rain date?
  • Do you need to be present?

We’re just going to throw a yes on that last question. It just makes good sense all the way around for obvious reasons. Also, what if an unexpected question comes up?

They’re here!

A team of professionals should be on top of their game. Therefore, on installation day, your installers should arrive on time and ready to go.

You can and should expect the following:

  • They should protect your space, using drop cloths is a sign that they’re serious about that.
  • The removal of the old windows should be done with care.
  • Your windows should be finished inside and out. That includes installing interior and exterior trim, in addition to the necessary hardware.
  • They should leave your home like they found it. After clean up, you should not even know they were there. With the exception of the new look provided by your replacement windows, of course!
  • All the debris, including the old windows should be removed from the premises.

Albeit, if you put your new windows in the hands of a pro, all of the above should be included in a normal day’s work.

By and large, there’s something to be said for that.

The final view

We strongly recommend hiring a professional to install your replacement windows if you don’t have experience in the field. It really is a big job and you don’t want to get in over your head. Becoming frustrated and overwhelmed could lead to an accident or a costly mistake.

Furthermore, if you’re confident that you’re ready to tackle installing your new replacement windows, study up on the subject beforehand. By the way, you’re going to need some help. Find someone that feels confident they can handle the job as well. On the whole, the power of positive thinking goes a long way toward success.

Make sure you’ve gathered all your tools and materials beforehand. Map out the details of your project before you get started. Knowing the order of the steps you’ll take is a good idea. Moreover, plan to take all the time you need. You want the job done correctly. That is paramount.

Poorly installed windows lead to problems later on. If moisture gets past the windows and enters the walls, mold and wood rot will eventually set in. Accordingly, if you install your windows improperly, their energy efficiency rating is literally out the window. Guaranteed.

Oh, and be careful on that ladder!

 

What are Impact Windows?

In a nutshell, impact windows provide your home with a great line of defense against hurricane force winds.

And, that’s just for starters.

Impact windows are extremely energy efficient. They protect your home’s interior from UV rays, and intruders, by the way! Not to mention, outside distractions are a thing of the past.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Let’s back up a bit.

Cause and effect

The words “Florida” and “hurricane” go hand in hand.

In fact, after Hurricane Andrew ripped through Florida leaving a path of destruction in its wake, Miami-Dade was the first to push for a change in building codes requiring all new construction to include using hurricane resistant building materials.

All of Florida got behind that proposal.

Way to go, Florida!

The new regulations went into affect on March 1, 2002. Since that time, every state from Texas up the entire east coast has implemented building code changes that include using hurricane resistant materials. Not all of them are mandatory. In fact, Louisiana and Florida are the only states that enforce the use of hurricane resistant materials in all new residential and commercial construction.

As a result, window manufacturers began to seek ways to reinforce windows from framing to glass.

No stopping now

Auto manufacturers have long used safety glass in our automobiles. A thin layer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) is layered between two or more sheets of glass. The PVB layer is flexible and holds the glass in place if it breaks. This greatly reduces the chance of injury due to flying glass. The reinforcement also makes it very hard to penetrate if hit.

The tempered glass, itself, has been strengthened using either a thermal or chemical process. Not only that, it is heated and rapidly cooled to be heated again several times. The rapid cooling process actually changes the way the glass breaks. Rather than shattering upon impact it breaks into thousands of pebble-like pieces. Glass shards are non-existent.

Window makers quickly adopted the same concept with great success. They went a step above laminated windows though.

Speaking of impact

No matter if the frame is aluminum, wood, or vinyl, it is beefed up to meet the requirements that rate the window unit as impact resistant.

To construct the window itself two panels of tempered glass adhere on either side of a sheet of high tech polymer. The reinforcement from the polymer sheet had a dramatic affect on window strength. Testing guidelines vary from state-to-state. The Miami-Dade County hurricane impact test is considered the end all, be all, though.

Again, way to go, Florida!

Also, how a window unit withstands the testing process is dependent on the rating it receives. You might want to do your homework if considering replacement windows or are in the process of starting construction.

Large missile test

The missile is a 6-foot, 9-pound 2×4. It’s shot out of a cannon aimed directly at the window. The projection force equals 50 feet per second. It strikes the window with blunt end force. It may crack or even shatter, but the test requires it remain completely intact.

This is a window we’re talking about.

Wow!

Small missile test

Once the large missile test is completed, the unit is sent on to the next. The small missile test consists of hurling steel ball bearings or gravel of the same size simultaneously. They hurtle toward the window covering 80 feet per second!

Again, wow!

The elements tests

After proving itself through the large and small missile tests, a high wind test is next on the list. The window must sustain varying degrees of pressure during cyclonic wind conditions.

Lastly, the windows must withstand wind driven rain conditions.

Big thumbs up

If the entire window unit, including the glazing, remains intact after test completion, it earns an impact resistant window rating.

The ratings vary due to overall performance, so again, do your homework. Some windows are not compliant in certain areas.

A force to reckon with

Our home is our refuge.

Not just when we are weathering a storm, either. We think of our home as the number one safe spot. A place where your family feels safe and secure all the time. No matter what the world is throwing around out there.

The thought of home invasion strikes terror in the heart.

Maybe not so much anymore. Home security systems are awesome! However, if someone is intent on entry, let’s face it, it takes the police some time to get there.

Impact windows are a huge deterrent for intruders. Windows are an easy point of entry. Smash it and you’re in! Imagine an intruder trying to break through an impact resistant window. One felled attempt is likely to send them packing in a hurry.

Help yourself to our stuff?

We don’t think so.

A sound choice

Impact windows not only protect your home, they are easy on the ears. The added reinforcement also acts as a noise buffer. It greatly reduces the amount of street sounds that make their way into your home.

Let the builders build, the mowers mow, and the children play!

You are free to nap, work, or relax without distraction.

No shades needed

We often close our shades or drapes to prevent the sun’s intrusive ultraviolet rays from penetrating our homes. There’s nothing worse than the realization that your sofa or carpet are now two distinct shades. Both, the original and the not-so-trendy slow fade shade.

That, too, becomes a thing of the past when you install impact windows. The layered glass coupled with the reinforced sheeting blocks UV rays and let’s the sun shine in.

That’s a win-win combination!

Playing it safe

It’s worth repeating that impact windows are a strong line of defense against strong winds. Whether you live in hurricane alley or on the coast, they provide increased chances that you and your family will ride out the storm safely.

They aren’t indestructible, but they come pretty close! There is really no comparison to be made between normal and impact windows.

They take the prize, hands down.