Unless you haven’t turned on the news in the last few years, you will know that hurricanes are no joke. No matter where they are in the world, no matter what season they hit it in, these literal forces of nature leave nothing unturned in their wake.
Nothing, that is, unless the proper preparations have been made. With the right adjustments, additions, or attachments and fixtures to a building, it can be made resistant, if not outright immune, to the worst effects that and hurricane can bring to it.
This means that, over the last 30 to 40 years, more and more new structures and buildings, especially in and around the south, off the Pacific Coast, and the tropics as a whole, are being made with hurricane-proofing in mind.
Indeed, in Florida, after Hurricane Andrew ripped through Florida in 1992, the state’s building codes were given a much-needed update that made it mandatory for new buildings to be constructed in the state to be equipped to stand up to hurricane-force winds.
This applied to many schools, hospitals, stations, and, of course, new homes being built. One of the main pieces of equipment that have since been added to the list of necessary home features in the state is hurricane steps.
But what are they? How vital are they? And is it possible to install them in homes that weren’t originally built to stand up to hurricane-force winds?
All these questions, and more, will be answered in this guide that we have created for you!
What Are Hurricane Straps?
Before we get any further into discussing how you can get some of these anti-hurricane measures into your home, we should probably first explain what exactly a hurricane strap is in the first place.
Also known as hurricane ties or hurricane brackets, a hurricane strap is a piece of connecting material that can be installed into a home to help strengthen the wooden frames of homes or roofs.
They are also often used to make sure that your roof is securely attached to the rest of your home, which is often one of the weakest points in any house or smaller buildings where the two parts are constructed separately.
Whilst there are a few materials that these types of connectors are usually made from, the most popular are usually made from some kind of stainless or galvanized steel, as these materials can resist rust and damage accumulation better than normal metals and other building materials.
Hurricane straps are very popular additions to homes where the chances of severe damage from tropical or winter storms are high.
They are particularly common in and around the tropics, where it is often compulsory to have these types of fixtures included in any new buildings that are being made.
Keeping the entire structure of your home together as a single piece, also makes it more difficult for tornado and hurricane winds to tear a roof from a home, and generally requires more force to be moved or otherwise damaged as well.
Can Hurricane Straps Be Retrofitted To Older Homes?
Of course, these additions to home construction mean that quite a few older houses and buildings in the tropics do not have Hurricane straps as standard as part of their homes.
People living in these older homes may then be worried that their home is unprepared for when a strong storm or hurricane may hit the region, and, as a result, wonder if their homes can be retrofitted with some kind of hurricane-proofing as well.
Fortunately, many of the hurricane straps that can be found today are also able to be retrofitted into many older homes too, as many of the metal components used to connect elements of a building’s wooden frame are small enough to be carried up into the rafters of a home, and installed manually.
So, although it may cost a little upfront, it is possible to make your older house more hurricane or storm-proof.
Different Types Of Hurricane Straps
So, you are starting to wonder how exactly you can find some type of hurricane strap for your home now.
However, before you start worrying about how exactly you are going to fit one of them into your home, you first need to figure out what type of hurricane strap you want to use in the first place!
Many different connectors fall under the umbrella term of hurricane Straps, and they are intended to be used for different parts of your home:
These are often one of the best ways to add extra strength to your roof and look similar to an off-center square with one section of it taken out. These connectors are very versatile, as they can be used to tie beams, timber, wall, and floor plates together.
These hurricane straps are used to connect two rafter beams that are next to one another. They can be bent to a specific angle to better accommodate the angles that rafter tips often meet at.
The name of these connectors is pretty self-explanatory. These straps are used to better connect the battens (or purlins as they are known) to the main supporting rafters of a roof, either during or after construction.
For extra strength, they can even be doubled up at the crossover between the rafter and the purling.
These straps are usually used at a splice junction between two beams. They tend to be a type of strap that isn’t effective at transferring bending movements and loads, however.
Because of this, they are usually only used as alternative connectors between beams, where the loads that are transferred are less economical than standard connected components of a roof.
These are connectors that are most often used when the concrete belt or ring beams are being used to help support the main rafters or roof trusses of a roof during and after construction, hence the name.
These straps have many uses for forming connections between different sections of a roof, as the name implies.
Given their usually thin design, they are best used for securing buildings that are relatively lightweight to their foundations, or for other locations that require a little extra fastening, such as sill plates to timber stud walls, as well as lower timber stories to upper timber stories.
This is a strap connector that is used between the butt junction of two beams, and where mending plates aren’t sufficient to hold the two pieces together
Installing Hurricane Straps
So, with the connectors explained, we can now start to cover how exactly you can use some of these hurricane straps to help better prepare your home in the event of a tropical storm.
Retrofitting Hurricane Straps To An Existing Home
Generally speaking, adding new hurricane straps or clips to an existing home is primarily a case of understanding the different components of your roof’s structure.
For example, using rafter/purlin clips to help fasten down roof rafters is relatively simple.
These are simple additions that may not feel like much of a condition, but given that many pre-existing homes rafters and beams are connected with a simple large bolt, having an extra point of connection between the roof and the home, even with something as simple as a single rafter/purlin clip, can do a lot to help improve your home’s structural integrity.
Adding Hurricane Straps To A New Roof
This is often a very similar process to simply adding your correct hurricane straps to an existing roof.
However, if you are constructing a new roof, especially for a home that is located in the tropics, you are probably going to need to install the correct roof clips as you construct the new roof itself.
While this can often mean that the time it takes to make a new roof is a little longer, it does also save you time in the long run. Plus, if a hurricane or storm does hit your area, it’s also likely to save you money in repairs too!
How To Decide On What Hurricane Strap You Need
With so many different types of connectors that can be used to help strengthen your home and roof, it can often be very difficult to decide which type, or how many of a specific type, you are going to need to properly reinforce your home.
So, with that in mind, these are a few factors that you should take into account.
Demand Load Of Your Roof
This is a pretty obvious point. If the trusses of a building you are working on have an overall uplift weight of a certain amount, then your connectors are going to need to succeed that amount by a safe margin.
This seems pretty simple at first, but what you are also going to need to consider is the lateral load of the roof itself and the force is applied parallel to both itself and the house below it.
Usually, a connector that is carrying a lateral load has less capacity to resist the uplift load too, so make sure that you have connectors covering both if need be.
Dimensions Of Your roof
Most hurricane straps are one-sided, meaning that they can only be installed in one direction. However, it is possible to have connectors that are made for centering on a beam or piece of timber, such as the timber connection.
In these cases, you are going to need to make sure that the dimensions of the timber beam will allow for the timber connector to fit around the U-shape of this particular type of hurricane strap.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Important Are Hurricane Straps?
For keeping your home together, very! They are required as part of new building codes in some states, such as Florida where hurricane season lasts six months of the year.
If I Move Into A Home Where Hurricane Straps Are Already installed, Do I Need To Check Them?
Yes, absolutely! The straps may have been accidentally fitted incorrectly, so you should make sure that they are properly installed for yourself.
As with many of these building and construction tasks, if you are concerned that you are unable to carry out fitting these for yourself, do not hesitate to contact our construction professional to fit these for you.
If you want your home to be up to your State or county code, it should only be a professional that is installing these items!
Just let them do their job with these hurricane straps, and your home will be hurricane-proof in no time!
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