Time sure flies when you’re painting! Like you, we can hardly believe that Memorial Day is only a couple of weeks away. Here in Florida, it’s warming up outside, summer is closing in, school is letting out – and June 1st marks the official start of the 2016 Hurricane Season.
Building owners and managers: Is your commercial building or property ready for the damaging effects of this year’s storms?
At Dulakis Painting, we’re all about being prepared – in fact, our Founder Chris Dulakis is a member and co-chairman of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Orlando Chapter Preparedness Team, which supports the BOMA organization by investigating and implementing policies and procedures that pertain to safety and security for our members.
Since Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 1st each year, we spend a lot of time collaborating with Florida building owners and managers about the damaging effects that wind and water can have on your commercial property, because during hurricane season, your Florida commercial property’s windows and doors are especially susceptible to wind and flood damage.
Wind sends debris whipping into windows, resulting in broken glass and damage to your building’s façade. Additionally, properties that aren’t sealed properly can be quickly breached with water through windows and doors, resulting in costly damage.
Wind damage is consistently the number one cause of storm-related damage, but water and flood damage accounts for the largest share of hurricane damage costs. According to the National Flood Insurance Program, the average hurricane-related flood claim for a commercial property is over $89,000. Hurricane damage can have even longer lasting effects.
Each year, hurricane season storms result in billions of dollars of damage due to wind and water. Taking the time to prepare your property for hurricane season provides the building with greater protection in the event that a storm hits. Hurricane risk mitigation can also help property owners qualify for lower insurance premiums. Commercial property owners can greatly reduce the risk of hurricane damage by employing the following tips:
- Have Your Windows Inspected and Properly Sealed
Properly sealing windows is an often overlooked step in preparing a property for hurricane season. It can be quite difficult to determine if the weather stripping needs to be replaced. Have your windows regularly inspected to determine window seal integrity.
All caulking should be inspected and, if needed, should be removed and replaced with a high-quality urethane caulk.
- Reinforce Overhead Doors
If commercial and industrial doors are not properly sealed, they can allow wind to enter the property. This can cause costly damage to the roof and siding. They’re also extremely susceptible to wind damage. Hurricane-resistant doors and wind-pressure systems can help mitigate risk.
As with your building’s windows, all caulking should be inspected and, if needed, should be removed and replaced with a high-quality urethane caulk.
- Seal Wall Gaps, Inspect Wall Systems, and Secure Soffits
Be diligent in seal gaps in outer walls to prevent water from getting into the building and securing soffits to the walls to keep them from blowing off and allowing wind-driven rain into the building. All stucco should be inspected. It is typical of all stucco to show some signs of cracking, however the size and severity of the damage will help to decide whether a normal elastomeric patch followed by a high-quality sealer and paint will work, or, alternatively, if it needs a high-build product designed to bridge these stucco cracks in order to fully waterproof the envelope of the property.
Don’t forget to consider of all the holes that are in your building, from plumbing and irrigation connections to lighting to HVAC system elements. Then there are unplanned holes, too – sealants that have long ago vanished, or settling cracks, to name a couple of reasons. Make sure you inspect your wall systems before hurricane season to prevent costly repairs later.
Interior and exterior walls, pipes and joints, roofs and foundations are most likely to need waterproofing. Adequate waterproofing requires more than a commercial sealant that comes in a tube, or just another coat of paint. These measures are more cosmetic than anything else and don’t address the underlying problem of why there is dampness in the first place. Waterproofing should not only sort out the cause of the problem, but prevent its recurrence in the long-term.
- Check Gutters and Roof Sealants
Have your gutters and roof sealants checked. A gutter system is supposed to channel water away from the roof and deposit it to a more useful location – but clogged gutters on the upper floors of your building can cause water to backflow, almost guaranteeing water damage will occur. While you have someone up on the roof inspecting your gutters, check the roof’s sealants – nothing causes more water damage from stores than leaking sealants. Check all roofing penetrations such as stacks, skylights, and chimneys for decaying sealants and make the repairs as needed.
Here are a few more general, essential tips for your business’s hurricane preparedness:
- Get a Building or Property Assessment – Before the Hurricanes Roll In
Make sure your business takes an assessment of all of the belongings in your building. This will help you receive a fair and accurate insurance claim and valuation in the event of hurricane and storm damage loss. Some business or property owners who haven’t had an assessment in years can be unfairly evaluated – and grossly undervalued in the event of a claim.
- Plan Ahead with Florida’s Emergency Management Plan
The Florida Division of Emergency Management provides an online tool to help your business prepare its own custom Emergency Preparedness Plan. Review this each year.
- Stock Up on Supplies While There’s Still Sunshine
Don’t wait until the hurricane is miles off the Florida coast. Stock your business up ahead of time – the prime time is before hurricane season even starts. Many business owners don’t consider that your business disaster supply kit should include enough food and water for each member who works on your property to survive for at least three days. It should also include a supply of cash on hand as the banks and ATM machines may not be functioning properly immediately following a storm. Also, ensure that you fill your work vehicles up with gas, as gas stations may be temporarily closed, too.
You can explore even more in depth analysis about preventing water damage by reading the Dulakis Painting Preventing Water Damage blog.
Need an assessment of your building’s susceptibility to storm damage before hurricane season? Give us a call at 407-366-9312 today.