Preparing Roof Turbines for Hurricanes

In case you didn’t see our recent Local 10 Hurricane Housecall last week on preparing roof turbines for a hurricane, I’ll summarize the main points of the report. 

Roof turbines, found on many of the older homes in South Florida, frequently don’t hold up under flying debris from strong hurricanes.  If the turbines are blown off, this can allow water to penetrate into the house.  Miami-Dade County Building and Neighborhood Compliance Department, the Institute for Business and Home Safety, and a well-respected UF wind engineer have all told me that you should remove the turbine and cover the remaining opening in the roof with an appropriate cap that is pre-made for that purpose.

WPLG’s Chief Meteorologist Trent Aric and cameraman Bill Damas during our Hurricane Housecall showing how to properly cap roof turbines

But one should be extremely careful when going up on the roof.  During the 2004 hurricane season, more people died indirectly from the hurricanes – before and after the hurricanes – than during the actual hurricane events.  Some of these indirect deaths occurred during the preparedness phase but most occurred during the recovery period.  One of the more common causes of death cited was people falling off ladders or falling off roofs when trying to make repairs.  I don’t recommend anyone capping their turbine vents at the last minute if they have a steep slope to the roof, if the roof is wet, or when the winds are starting to pick up on the fringe of a hurricane.

A more permanent solution to the turbine problem, proposed by one of the consultants for the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, is to replace each turbine with a lower profile, permanent style roof vent that could be left attached to the roof during a hurricane.  By having this more permanent solution installed by a licensed roofing or building contractor, you can still allow the hot air to escape from your attic space yet not have to worry about removing the turbines every time a hurricane threatens.

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