Protect your home: Strenghten your roof and garage door

Here in Hawaii , if you live in a home that was built recently, your roof probably already has hurricane ties installed. But if your home was built or permitted before the 1991 Uniform Building Code was adopted, you should consider strengthening your roof.

Older roof designs rely on a relatively small number of nailed connections between the roof rafters and the upper sill plates (at the top of the vertical outside walls of your house). This design can withstand conventional winds, but is vulnerable to the upward force of much stronger hurricane winds. Installation of hurricane ties can greatly increase the roof’s resistance to uplift from strong winds. These devices are inexpensive strips of sheet metal that have been formed to accommodate a variety of roof-to-wall transitions. They are available in hardware stores and are easy to install. As few as a dozen ties strategically placed at the rafter/wall connection can substantially increase the likelihood that your roof will survive hurricane winds. A full set of ties is still a modest investment: between $400 and $600 for a 1200-square-foot house. This is a small investment to make, considering the amount of damage your house could sustain if a hurricane were to destroy your roof.

Another method for tying down a roof is to literally tie it down with rope. On Kauai , one enterprising resident tied ropes to the bases of plumeria trees and ran the ropes cross-wise over his roof. Neighbors on all sides lost entire roofs, but his sustained only minor damage. Although this method worked for him, the hurricane ties have a longer and better history of success.

Two-car garage doors pose a problem because they wobble in high winds and can blow out of their tracks or collapse. Some garage doors can be strengthened with retrofit kits. Installing horizontal bracing can reinforce some garage doors. Backing a car up against the inside of the garage door in the event of a hurricane can also help resist strong winds.