Howling wind is enough to make a homeowner want to scream Gusts can tear off siding, send limbs crashing down and even raise the roof

Home Work

March 16, 1997|By Karol V. Menzie and Randy Johnson

When the weather forecaster aims the pointer at figures on the screen and predicts strong winds with gusts up to 50 miles per hour, it's enough to give any homeowner the shivers.

Wind is an insidious enemy that can cause a lot of damage around the house. It's hard on roofs, trees, plants and lawn furniture, and sometimes the problem isn't noticed until it gets worse -- as when wind loosens shingles and then drives rain through the roof to cause a leak.

Last winter Randy installed a new roof on a house that sat on the ridge of a hill in Baltimore County. The roof was a low pitched, almost -- but not quite -- too flat for shingles. Because of the season, it was cold and there wasn't a lot of sun. All new shingle roofs need sun to melt the tar between the layers and make them stick together.

Most of this roof got enough heat, but because of the way wind blew around the house, some parts didn't. Some of the shingles were lifted enough to blow rain underneath and cause a leak in the garage.

A few shingles were loosened enough to move and then bond down out of position once it warmed up. Those shingles had to be removed and reinstalled correctly.

The lesson is that roofing is a job for times of the year that are warmer than December. Wintertime roofing is risky.

Even in an older house, wind can cause problems where roofs and walls meet by blowing rain into an inadequately flashed junction. It may never have leaked in that spot before, but wind and rain from a different direction can create a new leak. In addition, tree limbs blowing constantly against the house can tear roof edges, damage siding and create a leak.

Antennas can also be a problem in the wind, if they're installed on the roof itself. They can be loosened, or ripped out, leaving a hole. Antennas are best installed with brackets on a wall.

Vinyl and aluminum siding are prime candidates to take flight in a high wind. Such siding is installed loose to allow for expansion and contraction, and the ends of the siding around windows and doors and at trim are tucked under an edge trim.

Since the sections are joined, if something comes loose, the problem can grow with first one piece flying off into the neighbor's yard and then a lot more following. Randy once lost a big section of siding off his house this way. A good installation job in the first place can help, but if you have vinyl siding, sometimes it's just your turn to lose a few.

Karol hates to hear the wind howling around her house because of the trees -- two big maples and a tulip tree that start dropping dead limbs even in a light breeze.

At least so far, the trees have remained standing. Soft-tissue trees such as maples and sweet gums are the most dangerous around the house in a high wind.

If your lot was originally heavily wooded and some trees were left standing, those remaining trees could be at risk of toppling. Even though they stood in a wooded area for years, they were protected by surrounding trees. With the surrounding trees gone, they may not be able to stand up to high winds.

A tree surgeon should be able to help you analyze what trees on your lot are risky and make some suggestions about minimizing trouble. Sometimes just trimming a tree and balancing its weight may make it safer.

Garages, carports and outbuildings are prime candidates for removal by high winds. Horse shelters and other types of open-ended structures that face prevailing winds can end up in the next pasture if the wind comes up and under the roof.

Structures such as these should be designed with the wind in JTC mind. Roofs can overhang so that the wind cannot blow directly in. Securing the structure to the ground, even if it has to remain movable, is a good idea. And if you must build on a hill, try to face the structure so the wind blows against a solid wall, not an open end where it could blast in and lift off the roof.

Blow-by-blow tips

Here are some things you can do to minimize wind damage:

Keep trees trimmed of dead limbs; consult a tree surgeon if trees seem shaky or growth is unbalanced. Trim back branches so they don't hit house.

Support newly planted trees so they won't blow over.

If you know the wind will be high, put away lawn furniture, barbecue grills and yard tools.

Make sure birdhouses and bird feeders are secure.

Check after a windstorm to see if shingles have been lifted.

If you get an unusual leak, check flashing and siding for loose spots.

Make sure tilt-in windows are latched; some of the more inexpensive types can be blown open by strong winds.

Make sure storm doors have good latches.

Check shutters periodically to make sure they're secure.

Randy Johnson is a Baltimore home-improvement contractor. Karol Menzie is a feature writer for The Sun.

Pub Date: 3/16/97

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