We recently moved to Delaware, which I find to be a particularly windy State. I notice that our newly built house shakes a little when we have strong winds. We lived in California for 30 years, so we are used to our house shaking due to earthquakes but not due to wind. This is new to me, and I wondered-is it normal for my house to shake when it’s windy?
If you’ve ever noticed your house start to shake during a storm or a particularly windy day, don’t panic. Chances are your home isn’t about to be blown away with you in it. It’s normal for a house to shake in heavy winds; otherwise, it may snap. Some houses will flex more than others, depending on the building quality, how tall the house is and whether the house faces straight into the wind.
What Causes a House to Shake?
There can be a variety of reasons why your house is shaking. For one, the taller your house is, the more likely this is to happen. This is because homes with more than one floor don’t always have evenly distributed structural integrity.
Other factors can make your home shake when it’s windy. Homes built before WW2, for example, used to contain plaster walls on the inside. Plaster walls are heavier and rigid, which is not conducive to shaking. However, over time, the plaster may have deteriorated and been replaced with drywall instead. As a result, you’re more likely to feel the effects of a storm or strong wind.
Homes made out of wood are also more likely to shake because wood tends to bend and compress and spring back into place. The location of your home is another factor to consider. If your home is located near a coast, for example, it might catch more wind as opposed to a home that isn’t.
All in all, if you have a decently built house, there is no reason to panic. A study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) found that new wood-frame houses built following building code performed well structurally, including those located in areas with winds of up to 150 mph.
Making Your Home Safer
When the weather turns nasty, you don’t want to be caught off guard. There are several ways that you can prepare for a storm or just make your home more secure during windy months.
Check the Shingles on Your Roof
One of the first things to check is to ensure that all of the shingles on your roof are sturdy. If you have a loose shingle, it could break off during a storm. With missing shingles, there’s room for wind to get underneath and do more damage. If you spot a loose shingle, be sure to nail it down until it’s as secure as possible.
Inspect Your Siding
The same goes for loose siding. If you have wood siding, look for holes and poke suspicious areas with potential water damage or rotting. If you have vinyl siding, ensure you don’t have missing panels. Then, look for dented or cracked panels.
The most likely areas requiring attention are the bottom and top wall and corners. Be sure to secure, fix or replace any panel that is missing or damaged in any way.
Are Your Gutters Clean?
Another thing you’ll want to do to ensure your home is safe from potential storm damage is to make sure your gutters are clean. If not, water won’t be able to flow down entirely and will instead begin to flood.
When you know a storm is coming, clear out all of your gutters and be sure to remove anything that may block water from being able to flow down.
While on the water flow topic, you may want to consider making sure that water can flow away from your home. You can do this by shoveling out a ditch or creating a drain in which water can go into. Here are some additional helpful tips on how to fix drainage problems in your yard.
Get a Basement Sump Pump
If you have a basement, it’s a good idea to have a sump pump installed if you don’t have one. This can help remove any water that may have seeped into your basement and protect your home’s foundation.
If you already have one, make sure it is working as intended before it is too late.
Cover Your Windows and Doors if Necessary
Open or cracked windows and doors are another way for your home to be damaged by a storm. This is an easy access point for water to get in, and a small opening could turn into a large one.
Cover your windows and doors to keep them from breaking as a result of strong winds or rain. You can do this by using plywood or shutters.
Beware of Loose Objects Around Your House
If winds are particularly strong in your area, anything that’s in your yard and isn’t nailed down may also become a hazard. Before a storm, make rounds in your yard to make sure fence posts and any décor is nailed down or taken inside if possible.
Trim Your Trees
Keep your trees trimmed, particularly the ones that are close to windows or your vehicle. Otherwise, tree branches could become loose and either damage your property or end up crashing through windows.
Be Ready for a Potential Disaster
Having a generator on hand is also ideal as you never know when a storm could cause you to lose power. A generator can make sure you keep power in your home until the issue is resolved. Having a storm kit on hand is also a good idea. Your storm kit should contain enough food and water for three days, a first aid kit, blankets, flashlights, and extra batteries.
If an evacuation is necessary, make sure that you and your family are all on the same page. Create an escape plan that everyone can follow and practice a few times before a storm. If your plan is to evacuate, be sure that you have a safe place that you can go.
Checking for Damage
After the storm, you’ll want to make sure to check your home for any potential damage. The roof is the first place you’ll want to check since it’s one of the places where the most damage can occur. Not to mention you’ll want to address any leaks before they get out of hand.
The next thing you should do is look around for glass or pieces of metal that may have broken off from items nearby that may have been left outside during a storm. Don’t forget to take photos of any severe damage that may need to be reported to your insurance company.
The next time you find your house shaking, don’t panic. Chances are it’s not about to be blown away with you in it; rather the wind is just making its presence felt and flexing the home a little bit more than usual. Some houses will shake more than others depending on their building quality, height, and how much they face into the wind – but these movements are all normal!