If You’re A Homeowner, It’s Time to Prep for Storm Season

It’s the time of year that homeowners most dread: storm season. And with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicting five to nine hurricanes – with as many as four “major” ones boasting sustained winds of 111-plus mph – they’re anticipating an “active” six months or so through the end of November.

And while no one’s saying there will be a repeat of last season’s devastating hurricanes, it clearly pays for homeowners to be prepared.

Read on for some of the best advice on readying for the next (inevitable) storm.

• Check your insurance. The reality for many of those hit hardest last year was discovering that they weren’t properly insured and would have to find a way to pay for some or all of their rebuilding costs themselves. The reasons ranged from lack of flood insurance (only those with federally backed mortgages living in designated high-risk zones are required by law to buy it) to a local spike in the price of labor and materials.

“Hurricane Harvey (in Texas) showed that flooding can also damage properties outside the highest-risk zones,” The Wall Street Journal notes, quoting a former New York insurance commissioner, who says “people don’t understand that floods aren’t covered in the standard homeowner’s policy.”

• Clean your gutters. Even in perfect weather, Angie’s List says you’re looking at a possible “nightmare” if they’re so clogged with mounds of debris that it causes your roof to leak. And if you factor in hurricane-strength rain, suddenly the very roofing system component meant to control the flow of all that water – thus protecting your roof, walls, foundation, and landscape from the aforementioned flooding – can be useless.

“If you let gutter cleaning go, it could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars,” the website warns.

• Make sure your roof is in good condition. “The roof is the largest potential opening on the house, and wind and water can do terrible things if they get through (it),” Julie Rochman, president and CEO of The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, tells CBSNews.com’s “MoneyWatch.” What does this mean? Pay attention to your roof.

Now is the time to have a professional roofing contractor check for (and fix) any signs of wear and tear such as broken or missing shingles, a fractured fiberglass mat, or loosening of the self-seal strip. These telltale signs, especially if they resulted from damage from hail, can be difficult to spot yourself. And if you do decide to replace your roof? “Consider shingles that have passed the UL2218, Class 4 impact test,” advises Jason Joplin, program manager of CARE (the GAF Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence).

Joplin especially likes the Timberline® ArmorShield™ II line of shingles from GAF, North America’s largest roofing manufacturer. In addition to looking good, they’re made with SBS-modified asphalt, which he describes as “a rubber-like material for enhanced flexibility and durability during extreme weather conditions.” An added bonus: depending on where you live, shingles like these could help you qualify for significant discounts on your homeowner’s insurance.

• Trim weak tree branches. Need we say more than that people have actually died from trees and branches crashing into their houses?

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