How to Protect Your Garage from Storm Damage
While it’s true that no one can change the weather, there are plenty of things homeowners can do to make sure their properties are prepared for serious storms. Most homeowners focus their storm prep on their primary dwellings, but it’s equally important to get accessory structures like garages into a more resilient shape before the next big storm hits. Read on to find out how to protect garages from storm damage in Illinois.
Make Sure the Garage Is Structurally Sound
The first step is always to check the condition of the garage. If it has loose siding, signs of water damage, rotted boards, or a serious lean, it may be time to schedule a demolition and a new garage build.
A structurally unsound garage can create a serious liability during even a minor storm. To make matters worse, it can reduce the home’s curb appeal and lower its property value. While minor issues can be fixed, it’s best to start from the beginning with a new custom garage if there are signs of serious instability that could lead to a collapse during heavy rain or high winds.
Seal Cracks and Leaks
If there’s stormy weather in the forecast, it’s wise to take some time to examine the garage’s walls, floor, and roof for cracks. Sealing cracks before floodwater starts to rise is a great way to reduce the potential for damage during and after the storm. Homeowners can either hire a contractor or follow these steps to seal cracks in the floor or walls using concrete filler:
Remove debris from inside and around the crack by hand or using a vacuum.
- Remove oil from the area to ensure filler adherence.
- Cut the nozzle off the concrete filler bottle, making a hole that’s roughly the same size as the crack.
- Fill the crack slowly with filler.
- Smooth over the filler with a trowel to remove the excess.
- Allow the filler to cure overnight.
The process for stopping leaks in the roof is a little different. Most finished garages have drywall ceilings. If that’s the case, follow these steps to seal any cracks in the drywall:
Use a scraper to make the cracks sufficiently wide.
- Put drywall tape over each crack.
- Apply joint or drywall compound over the tape and push it through into the crack.
- Smooth everything over with a damp sponge.
- Finish the newly filled area by sanding, priming, and painting it.
If there are several cracks, they’re exceptionally large, or the materials have already experienced substantial water damage, it’s worth calling a contractor. Contractors can repair the damage, install drainage systems, and replace or install threshold storm shields.
Replace Weatherstripping and Door Seals
Like the doors in residential homes, garage doors should have pliable vinyl or rubber weather seals. These seals compress when people close the door to ensure that there is no gap along the floor. However, door seals are not designed to last forever.
As vinyl or rubber seals age, they become brittle. The longer it’s been since they have been replaced, the more likely it is that the seal will start to peel off or become too brittle and break apart. Replacing it can help to keep water from seeping in beneath the door.
Weatherstripping is equally important. It’s typically installed along the sides and tops of doors, not just to prevent stormwater intrusion but also to keep out dirt and wind.
Install a Threshold Storm Shield
Sometimes, replacing door seals and weatherstripping isn’t enough to prevent stormwater from entering the garage. Homeowners can also install flood barriers or threshold storm shields on their foundations to ensure that the weatherstripping forms a tight seal. In addition to creating a tighter seal, taking this step will also help to prevent air pressure issues.
Replace Aging Garage Doors
Aging, worn-out garage doors are unlikely to provide sufficient storm protection. While no garage door can withstand the elements when especially rough wind, rain, or snow pummel Illinois, a new hurricane-rated garage door can withstand strong winds far better than rotted wood or dented steel. Consider upgrading the door if there are signs of:
- Rotting or rusted panels.
- Badly dented panels.
- Loose or broken hinges between panels.
Poor maintenance habits.
If it’s time to install a new garage door, that’s not a DIY job. Consider calling garage building services. The contractors will have all the tools and materials required and will be able to make recommendations about how to choose a new door and how to maintain it once it’s installed.
It’s always a good idea to have a French drain installed around the garage. For most homeowners, installing a new drainage system is also best left to the professionals. Those who have sufficient knowledge of excavation and construction may be able to install their own drainage systems as long as there’s a safe location to drain the water. Here’s how to do it.
- Determine the best area of the yard for drainage
- Mark the water’s intended route using spray paint.
- Dig a six-inch trench along the route. Keep the depth no greater than that of the foundation.
- Put three inches of gravel in the bottom of the newly dug trench.
- Add landscape fabric to the top of the gravel, leaving some excess along the edges.
- Place a PVC drain pipe on top of the fabric and cover it completely with gravel. There should be around five inches of space between the top of the gravel and ground level.
- Fold the excess fabric over the top.
- Fill the trench with sand and topsoil, and cover it with turf.
- Add a layer of stones around the drain pipe’s opening.
If these steps sound too challenging or labor-intensive, it’s fine to call a contractor to handle the work.
Get Help Now
Have a garage that has already suffered storm damage? If so, Midwest Garage Builders can help. These experts have been in the business for over two decades and can provide repairs. If the structure is severely damaged, the team of experts can demo your old garage and install a new one that will be better suited to withstand Illinois’ sometimes extreme storms.