If Hurricane Irene passed through your area, it would be wise to inspect your home for storm damage. Obvious storm damage, like a broken window, is easy to spot. But if you don't look closely, you might miss little problems that could develop into big repair bills later.
Check your foundation carefully by looking along both outdoor and indoor walls for any areas that may be cracked or bulging. If things look good for now, check again over the next several weeks. Water can wash out soil under the footings that hold up the house and not show up as a problem until months after the storm.
Any electrical component, like an outlet, appliance or furnace that has been below flood waters should be replaced. Contaminants in the water can cause serious damage to sensitive electrical components. Besides malfunctioning, they could even result in electrical fires. If your heating system has been flooded out, have it checked by an expert. In many cases, individual parts can be changed without it becoming necessary to replace the entire unit.
If your basement has flooded from the storm, remove damaged belongings and dry the basement with fans. Then, avoid future problems by checking outside for any loose or disconnected gutters and fix any that you find. If the soil along your foundation walls has washed out, regrade the area by adding clean fill dirt and slope it away from the house to prevent any future storm damage.
During your home inspection, examine every side of your house for wind damage. Leaks can develop due to loose or missing siding, trim and soffits and loose flashing around the chimney and plumbing vents. Major leaks can also result from driving rain pushing up under roof shingles. However, these leaks are not likely to reoccur with normal rainfall and repairs may not be necessary unless the shingles have been damaged. Also look for cracked, loose or broken window panes and check the closers and safety chains on storm windows.
To make sure you catch everything, consider hiring a professional home inspector to look over your property. As someone who is there not to make repairs, but to simply examine your home, he or she will offer an unbiased perspective. The American Society of Home Inspectors is a great place to start your search.
Wind damage is typically covered by insurance. However, if your insurance company is giving you trouble, you might want to bring on an independent insurance adjustor. He or she will know the policies inside and out and leave no stone unturned in submitting your claim and fighting your battle for you.