Major weather events like Hurricane Sandy leave a lot of obvious structural damage in their wake. But there can also be hidden damage that turns into big expenses later on.
A season of weather extremes is just beginning, and no matter where you live, it’s important to do a thorough inspection of your home after a major storm. Be on the lookout for the following hidden threats.
Foundation failures: Heavy accumulations of water can cause a home’s foundation to weaken and fail. So check yours carefully along both the outdoor and indoor walls, looking for areas that are cracked or bulging. If your foundation looks fine now, check again in the coming weeks. Water can wash away the soil under foundation footings, and you may not see the results until months after a storm. Also watch out for interior walls that crack or doors that get stuck, which could be signs that the house is shifting as a result of foundation damage.
Flooded fixtures: Anything electrical that has been under water should definitely be replaced—that includes outlets, appliances and major system machinery like your furnace. Contaminants in water can damage sensitive components, leading to malfunctions and electrical fires.
Windward woes: High winds can take quite a toll on the outer skin of your home and leave damage in many areas. During your inspection, examine every side of your house from the ground and check for loose siding, metal trim and soffits. Give special attention to your roof, too, because driving rain can push up under roof shingles and cause leaks. Loose flashing around chimneys and plumbing vents can also lead to problems.
There are some post-storm repairs you can handle on your own, but for bigger and more pervasive problems, it’s best to call in the pros. Start with the guidance of a professional home inspector, and work with contractors certified to repair the kinds of damage a storm leaves behind.