Inspecting Your Home After Hurricane Sandy

There are rain showers, thunderstorms, and heavy storms. And then there are catastrophic weather events like the rare October hurricane which recently struck much of the East Coast. You may have seen photos of some of the homes which were heavily damaged or even totally destroyed.

But the damage doesn’t end there. Even though lots of homes survived Hurricane Sandy, also known as FrankenStorm, largely intact, many of them sustained substantial damage. Many structures may now have to deal with significant repair issues — even if the problems can’t be seen at first glance.

So here is a checklist to help you inspect your home for damage after the hurricane has passed.

  1. Check for standing water. A few puddles in your yard aren’t a big deal, but water in certain areas can be problematic or even dangerous. If water is present near appliances or gas meters, turn off the power leading to these units and call a qualified repairman as soon as is practical.
  2. Examine power lines. Obviously, you shouldn’t touch downed power lines. But if you notice that winds have caused poles to sag or wires to become entangled in trees, these could be fires waiting to happen. Notify an electrician and steer clear of those areas.
  3. Look at your roof. Stand far away from your home and look for shingles that have been displaced. If it is safe to do so, get on a ladder to take a closer look. Holes or gaps from windblown shingles may cause leaks that must be addressed.
  4. Inspect your gutters. High winds may have pulled some of the gutter sections away from the roofline and/or caused the gutters to sag. Make these repairs before the next storm hits. (Note: because of the heavy rainfall associated with Sandy, pooling water near your foundation isn’t necessarily evidence of gutter failure.)
  5. Look for evidence of foundation damage. New cracks or buckling at your foundation slab may have occurred during the storm, especially if there was substantial flooding or flying debris. Inside your house, be on the lookout for buckling or uneven floors that were flat before Sandy came ashore.
  6. Check interior cracks. Many homes have cracks in the ceilings or walls. But a major storm like Sandy can lengthen these abnormalities to the point where they may need to be fixed. Pay special attention to areas around windows and doors.
  7. Inspect plumbing. Once water service has been restored, systematically test every faucet and toilet in your home. Not only should you make sure they are working properly, but you should also look for evidence of leaks in pipes which may have been jostled or cracked during the hurricane.
  8. Check closets and crawl spaces. When you finish with your plumbing, peer into every storage cabinet, closet, pantry, and crawl space in your home. There may be water damage or other problems which could remain undetected if these areas are rarely used.
  9. Examine your water softener and/or heater. Like appliances, make sure there is no standing water around this equipment. If so, you may want to cut power to them. Also, hand-check connections to pipes that attach to the water softener and heater to ensure they are still tight.
  10. Call your insurance company to report any issues. It’s true that you may have to wait on hold for a long time because of the high volume of calls after the hurricane. But the sooner you report your damage to your insurance carrier, the more quickly you can get reimbursed for repair costs.