Although the Pacific Northwest doesn't have to worry about hurricanes and rarely experiences a tornado, that doesn't mean you don't have to worry about any natural disasters. The potential for life-threatening earthquakes is always there, and even an earthquake that's only moderately strong can do significant localized damage.
Until recently, nobody knew just how dangerous earthquakes could be in this region, so many homes have lower seismic standards than are now considered necessary. If you're not building new, extensive retrofitting from the foundation to the roof is important to do. Here are some roof upgrades to help give your house a better chance of standing up in an earthquake.
1. Plywood Sheathing
Some older houses don't have the supportive sheathing today's building codes use today. For example, an older house may have shingles or shakes installed over wood slats rather than solid plywood sheathing. If your house is in this situation, you need to upgrade it right away for increased structural stability as well as for roof health.
2. Chimney Modifications
If your home has a masonry chimney, take precautions to avoid or reduce damage and danger from chimney collapse. You can replace the entire chimney with a metal flue, or, as a compromise, you can replace just the part above your ceilings with metal so the bricks won't come crashing through the ceiling and roof.
Another option is to reinforce the roof and the ceilings so that if the chimney does collapse, it will be less likely to punch through to the areas below. Or, of course, you could simply get rid of your chimney if you're uncomfortable with the idea of all those bricks dancing around in an earthquake. You can also add bracing, but not everyone agrees this is effective.
3. Hurricane Anchors
Keeping your roof solidly attached to your walls at all times is a great goal. Although hurricanes aren't typically in the region, you can still make use of hurricane anchors to help your roof stay put during a disaster such as an earthquake. This can also be useful in high wind events.
The anchors are large metal brackets that attach to your roof's trusses and to the framing of your house to keep the two tied firmly together. This reinforces the house's structure, which both helps to keep walls from collapsing and helps to keep the roof from sliding off.
4. Light Roofing Materials
A heavy roof is not only more likely to kill you in an earthquake, but can also be the difference between a house that's merely damaged and one that collapses completely. When the walls shake, the amount of weight they have to bear really matters.
Although adding materials such as plywood sheathing is acceptable because it increases the roof's structural integrity, you should try to avoid materials that add a lot of weight without increasing stability. Slate, clay tile, and concrete roofing materials are among these. Instead, look for a lightweight but strong material such as metal roofing.
5. Roof Drainage System
Did you know that your roof drainage affects your foundation? And if your foundation doesn't last through the earthquake, your house doesn't stand a chance. So take care of your gutters and downspouts and make any upgrades, such as additional downspouts or larger gutters, that your system may need to handle the Pacific Northwest's rainfall levels.
You should also make sure that your roof's runoff water drains at least ten feet away from the house, which means you'll likely have to install or upgrade your downspout extensions. If the soil is silt or clay and has poor drainage, or the yard doesn't slope down ten feet away from your house, you may need to install French drains as well.
If you need help with any of these upgrades, contact Bill's Roofing Inc. today to schedule a visit anywhere in Western Washington.