In this hurricane season, keep your cement house safe, and your family calm. (Alberto Bartolomei)
In this hurricane season, keep your cement house safe, and your family calm. To do this, check and correct weak points in concrete houses, such as: leaking ceilings, cracks, displaced doors or windows, loose window slats, sloping roof for drains and pooling of water.
Use this checklist to establish a budget and priorities for your Safe House if it is made with cement:
- Check that your flat roof has an adequate minimum slope so that water runs down the drains and does not pool in the center.
- This slope is 1/8 to 1/4 inch for each foot of length. The greater the distance, the less the slope.
- Consider adding additional 4-inch minimum diameter drains.
- The roofs must have a waterproofing system that prevents leaks. They are obtained from elastomeric paints to various membrane systems.
- After cyclones have occurred, check that your roof sealing system is in good condition, especially that its edges are not raised, as water would leak out. Maintain it well according to product specifications.
- Check that your windows are not displaced from their frames. Although they are fractions of an inch, which we hardly notice, many gave in to the suction of Hurricane Maria's wind. Observe any displacement. If you can securely attach them back to the frame and shelf, you can reuse them. Otherwise, you must change them and make a new cement mat.
- Correct surface cracks with structural urethane or epoxy, or with an elastomeric material. These cracks are usually in non-structural block walls or window walls.
- Structural walls or columns with deep cracks must be reinforced following current Puerto Rico building codes (2018). You can temporarily stabilize them by propping them up with scaffolding.
- If the home is located in a floodplain, elevate useful equipment, machines, compressors, receptacles, and electrical panel 12 inches above the base flood level.
- Use locks or metal plates to cover openings where water can enter. Put caulk around to seal.
- Add extra latches or locks to your doors to keep them from blowing open, especially if you have double doors at the entrance of your home with a single latch in the center.
- Garage doors are exposed to the impact of projectiles. If you leave them closed, they protect the interior of the garage, but they can dislodge or break. If you are not concerned about the interior of the garage, you can leave them open. Another option is to put shutters or bars from behind so that they do not dislodge with the wind.