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From leaky roofs and flashing to damage from poor drainage or high winds, the weather can affect your home in many ways. Here’s what you need to know to maintain and repair your home when Mother Nature comes calling.

Inspecting Your Roof

It’s important to clean and inspect your roof regularly, since roof leaks can cause major damage to your home including water damage, rot, and mold. If the roof is steep, inspect it from the ground using binoculars.

How to Repair Flashing

                  Remove rust                                         Paint flashing

Start by cleaning the roof of leaves, limbs, or any other debris, paying particular attention to problem spots like chimneys, dormers, and valleys. Next, inspect the flashing for leaks. Use masonry caulk to seal gaps where the flashing attaches to bricks and urethane caulk on the flashing itself. If the flashing or valley is rusty, clean it with a wire brush and apply rust inhibiting paint.

How to Replace a Roof Shingle

      Remove nails                 Replace shingle                   Nail in place

To replace a damaged shingle, use a flat pry bar to break the seal, then remove the roofing nails holding it in place. Slide out the old shingle and nail in a new one, making sure the nails are covered by the shingles above. Replace any nails you removed from the shingles above the damaged one, and reseal the shingles with roofing cement.

How to Replace a Roof Vent

      Remove nails                 Take out old vent                Attach new vent

Roof flanges around plumbing vents can become damaged when squirrels sharpen their teeth on the lead flashing. To replace, remove the shingles around the vent, and pull out any nails holding the flange in place. Slide the old flange up over the pipe, nail a new one in place, and renail the shingles around it. Bend the lead casing over the inside of the vent pipe to keep water from running between the pipe and flange. Flanges are also available with a rubber gasket that seals around the outside of the pipe.

Proper Foundation Drainage

Rainwater that doesn’t drain away from your foundation can lead to moisture problems in basements and crawlspaces. To prevent this from happening, check to see that the ground around your house slopes down at least 6” over a distance of 10’. Add an extension on gutter downspouts to direct water further away from the foundation, and make sure that borders on flower beds allow rainwater to drain away from the house.

Keeping Your Gutters Clean

In addition to roof leaks, rainwater can rot the eave boards on your house if the gutters or downspouts become clogged, allowing water to run over or behind them. More information on gutters can be found in our article The Trouble with Gutters and video How to Clean Gutters.

How to Protect Windows

      Measure window           Cut plywood to size     Attach plywood to window

Extreme winds can damage your home, with windows and roofs being the most vulnerable. Covering windows with 1/2″ to 3/4″ plywood is the least expensive way to protect them from wind and flying debris. Measure the size of the window opening, and cut the plywood 1/2” smaller than the total size. Attach the plywood to the window with screws or spring clips.

    Attaching fabric storm panel.       Plastic storm panel held by spring clip.

Other options for protecting windows include fabric panels and plastic panels, which weigh much less, allow light into the home, and are easier to put up than plywood.

How to Reinforce a Garage Door

      Garage reinforcement kit                       Reinforcing door with 2x4s

Garage doors can also be damaged by high winds. Metal reinforcement kits are available that attach to the concrete slab and the framing above the door. You can also make your own reinforcement using 2x4s. Unplug the garage door operator when the reinforcement is in place.

Home Back-Up Generators

Since extreme weather can disrupt power to your home for days or weeks, many homeowners keep a back-up generator on hand for emergencies.

Whole house generators, such as those from Generac, are professionally wired into your home’s electrical system and take over automatically when there is a power outage. Whole house generators run on natural gas or propane and require little attention from homeowners.

While portable generators are a less expensive option, they require set up and fueling by the homeowner, which can result in carbon monoxide poisoning, electrocution, fire, and damage to appliances and other electrical equipment.

Important safety considerations when operating a portable generator include:

  • Only operate a generator in the open at a safe distance from your home.
  • Do not use a generator in an enclosed storage building, garage, carport, basement, crawlspace, or near open windows or doors.
  • Never attach a portable generator directly to the wiring in your house.
  • Instead, plug electrical devices into a heavy duty extension cord attached to the generator.
  • The combined wattage of all the devices plugged into the generator should not exceed the rated capacity of the generator or extension cord.
  • Turn the generator off and allow it to cool before filling with fuel.

Other Tips from This Episode

Finding Roof Leaks

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Finding Roof Leaks

Roof leaks are often difficult to find, since they can run down the sheathing or rafters, and appear far from their source. A rainy day is the best time to try and find a leak, or have someone spray water on the roof. Look for damp spots or water stains in the attic, and follow them back to their highest point. Check that area of the roof for the source of the leak.

Jig-A-Patch Sprayable Spackling

Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Jig-A-Patch Sprayable Spackling

Jig-A-Patch sprayable spackling is a fast and easy way to repair holes in drywall. Simply spray it on the hole, allow it to sit for two minutes, then even it out with the built-in putty knife. Once the patch has dried, use the reusable sanding pad to sand the surface smooth. Jig-A-Patch is available at The Home Depot.

Collecting Rainwater

Thinking Green with Danny Lipford:
Collecting Rainwater

If your home has gutters, you can collect rainwater to use for watering your garden. Position rain barrels near downspouts then modify the downspouts so they direct runoff into the barrel. A faucet on the side of the barrel attaches to a hose for watering. This not only conserves water but reduces the energy needed to process and pump it to your home. Find more ways to save water in our article Water Conservation in the Home.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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