When you first bought your home in Los Angeles, you probably knew about the Southern California earthquakes. But you may not have heard about the Santa Ana winds that come during the fall and winter. When you first start researching them, Santa Anas sound frightening. They bring a dry heat and sometimes hurricane-force winds, causing dust storms and spreading wildfires.
How Can You Keep Your House Safe?
First, look to your roof. This part of your house is one of the most susceptible to damage in strong winds. Once you take care of the roof, you can confidently protect the rest of your house. Soon you’ll talk about Santa Anas like an LA native; it’ll just be another part of the year.
Here’s how to prepare your roof for each part of the Santa Ana winds.
Dryness and Heat
Many Santa Ana winds come with a humidity lower than 10%. When the air contains so much heat and so little moisture, wooden shingles can shrink and curl, and asphalt shingles can blister. All this damage puts your roof at higher risk for wind damage.
To combat heat, choosing a roofing material with lighter color that can reflect more heat. You can check the “energy start rated” roofing materials on http://www.energystar.gov . As an added benefit, you will receive government tax credit for using energy star products in your home improvement projects.
To learn more about defending your house against the heat, see our blog post about protecting your deck from the sun.
The worst Santa Anas have wind speeds of over 80 miles per hour-the force of a small hurricane. With powerful winds come fallen trees, power outages, and possible roof damage. Here’s how to keep your roof intact:
Landscape safely: Since Santa Anas occur regularly, make sure your yard doesn’t contain trees that could fall onto your roof during a storm. Be aggressive about pruning your trees each year so they won’t grow big enough to reach your roof.
Secure your gutters: By themselves, gutters aren’t very sturdy. But if you use gutter straps to fasten them to your home’s structure, they’ll be more secure in high winds.
Roofing cement: To keep the winds from prying shingles off your roof, apply roofing cement to the edges.
Hurricane clips. Hurricane clips attach your roof to the rafters or trusses of your home in a more secure way. These ties reduce the chance for uplift with your roof.
The heat and wind of Santa Ana winds are a perfect combination to spread embers fast, causing massive wildfires like those of October 2007. But you can make fires less likely with a fire-resistant roof.
Many house fires start when embers land on flammable roofs. That’s why fire-resistant or fireproof roofs are so important in Southern California during Santa Ana season.
Some roofing materials are naturally fireproof or fire-resistant, including metal roofs, fiberglass composition shingles, and clay tiles. But if you have wood shake shingles that you don’t want to replace, you should make sure your roof is Class A fire rated.
If you’re not sure whether your roof is Class A, chances are that your wood is unrated. Call a roofing company to treat the shingles with a fire-resistant coating.
Once you’re prepared your roof for the Santa Ana winds, you’re well on your way to protecting the rest of your house. Get your roof inspected for resistance to heat, wind, and fire now, and later you can chat about Santa Anas like LA natives.