Destructive storms are every homeowner's nightmare -- but even with TV and radio stations broadcasting warning after warning when trouble is in the vicinity, you might be out of town or out of the information loop until it's too late. If a storm has attacked your neighborhood and wrecked your property, here are some tips for picking up the pieces.
Dealing With a Downed Tree
A tornado or other acute weather event can pull a tree up from the roots, pushing it over onto your lawn or leaving it hanging perilously over your property. You'll need to deal with this issue right away to prevent any further possibility of someone getting hurt. A tree suspended over a power line is especially dangerous. Do not let family members anywhere near this potential form of electrocution -- call a professional tree service immediately.
Tree services are skilled at removing overhanging branches or toppled trees as safely and efficiently as possible. While some ambitious do-it-yourselfers might be tempted to hack away at the wood with a chainsaw, this is a tricky, time-consuming project that can easily lead to serious injury. Your tree service can chop the tree and/or branches down into removable chunks in an orderly fashion. You can even ask the tree service whether you can hold onto some of the scraps for use as firewood or mulch.
Patching Broken Windows
Strong winds, tree branches, flying debris or hailstones can easily crack or break windows in your home. In the long run, you will probably want to restore your residence's aesthetic appeal by replacing damaged window glass. But if you just need a short-term fix to keep the elements out and/or the window is in a part of the home that isn't all that visible, you can patch the damage yourself. Cracks can be reinforced with tape, while broken-out sections of a window can be covered over with cardboard or plastic. (Always clean up the glass shards thoroughly and don protective gloves and goggles before doing this kind of work.)
Patching is better for single-pane windows than for double-pane windows. The latter must maintain a sealed, argon-filled space between their two panes of glass to provide insulation. Once one of the panes is broken, that perfect balance is lost; simply replacing the damaged pane won't restore the insulating properties, and humidity inside the space may cause the window to fog up. Outright replacement is the only good option in this situation.
Inspecting a Battered Roof
In the wake of a violent storm, "How's the roof?" may be the first question that enters your mind. If you want to take a look at it and take pictures of any damage, do so from the the safety of the ground. A damaged roof can be a hazardous surface to walk on, especially if it's still wet from rain, so leave the inspecting to the inspectors. An experienced roofing contractor knows how to diagnose everything from loos or damaged shingles to gutter problems and signs of water leakage into the attic.
Should you schedule an insurance assessment or a roof inspection by a roofer first? Ideally, you want to have them both on site at the same time. Insurance assessors are pressed to examine many roofs each day following a storm, so it helps to have another expert on hand to catch little details the assessor might miss.
Caring for a Car With Hail Damage
If your beloved car was sitting in the driveway when that big hailstorm whipped through, it may be dotted with dents and dings of various sizes before anyone can safely move it out of the line of fire. Its windows may also be dinged, cracked or even shattered. Whether you can restore your vehicle to its former glory depends largely on whether you have comprehensive auto insurance to cover the cost of repairs. If you're stuck with paying for the fixes yourself, many cosmetic dents and dings can be tapped out as money permits, but more serious body damage may require prompt attention. Ask your local body shop which repairs are necessary and which aren't.
A damaged windshield is another matter. Windshields are designed to help protect drivers in accidents, so driving with a broken or cracked windshield can increase the likelihood that you'll be injured in an impact or that the airbag will fail to deploy (not to mention the loss of visibility that may contribute to accidents). Get this problem fixed before anything else, and have it done by a professional. You can patch a crack or small hole with tape if you just want to keep the rain out of your car, but driving with such a "repair" is a calculated risk not worth calculating.
Taking action to fix your property after a big storm is a smart, productive way of coping with this troubled time. Talk to the necessary contractors and get the ball rolling as soon as you reasonably can.
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