LINCOLN, Neb. -- Repairing damage after severe weather can be expensive. However, many projects can be done for little or no money. Most can make a big difference when preparing your home for severe weather and provide the extra bonus of lowering utility and home-maintenance costs year-round.
Here are some ideas:
1. Cut it short.
When floor-level water meets drywall, it wicks up into the wallboard which can lead to mold if left untreated. So when replacing drywall, create a small buffer zone by leaving a one-half inch to one inch gap between the bottom of the drywall sheeting and the top level of the floor. If adding carpeting, be sure the gap is above the carpeted level. Cover the gap with baseboard.
Cost: Free for this technique. Drywall and baseboard costs separate.
Benefits: Quicker, easier and cheaper cleanup in cases of low-level floods or common everyday spills, like liquids in a kitchen or bathroom.
2. Power up.
Raise electrical outlets. Check first to see what local codes allow, but most do not have restrictions on the height of an outlet above the floor. Consider moving outlets up at least one foot above the minimum flood level or 24 inches above floor level.
Cost: Free, if done after drywall has been removed. If drywall is still in place, costs can vary.
Benefits: Helps keep water from seepage or a low-level flood from infiltrating and damaging an electrical receptacle, which can cause damage to an electrical system and usually requires an electrician to repair or replace.
3. Show your numbers.
Add visible address numbers to a house exterior and to the street curb or mailbox. Though it seems like a small task it will make a difference if there is an emergency, especially if occupants need to be rescued. Large numbers are best. Consider visibility (color, design, etc.) when choosing. Check local building codes and homeowner association or subdivision covenants for compliance requirements.
Cost: Most numbers sold at home-improvement stores are four inches tall and cost about $2 each. Larger numbers, depending on style and size, range from $5 to $10 each.
Benefits: Missing or barely visible address numbers can cause dangerous delays for emergency responders, especially during a disaster. The larger the numbers, the easier they are to see at night or during bad weather. After a disaster, a visible address helps inspectors locate damaged property.
4. Put on a strip.
Install weather stripping on outside doors and windows to help seal out air and even water. Weather stripping should seal well when a door or window is closed. With doors, a space as small as one-eighth inch between a standard exterior door and its threshold, is equivalent to a two-square-inch hole in a wall. Closing the gaps can save up to 15 percent in heating and cooling costs and can help minimize the intrusion of low-level water.
Cost: Weather stripping supplies and techniques range from simple to complex but most are easily installed as do-it-yourself projects. Costs range from less than $5 for a one inch by seven foot white vinyl piece to $11 for a three-quarter inch by one foot aluminum and vinyl adjustable door set.
Benefits: Relatively easy to install, effective, durable, comes in a variety of colors. Vinyl stripping holds up well and resists moisture. Metal stripping lasts for years. Both are affordable.
5. Turn on the radio.
Buy a NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards to get advanced warning of weather emergencies from the nearest National Weather Service office. Radio broadcasts include such information as watches and warnings for heavy rains, flash flooding, severe thunderstorms, hu...