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Assessing structural damage after a disaster

Monday, May 18, 2015

One of the major milestones on the road to recovering after a storm is assessing the structural damage to your home and other buildings.

Once authorities have given the all clear for you to approach your property, you will need to thoroughly check your entire house, including the foundation, roof and walls.

“Some damage will be obvious, but some of it will be less noticeable but can cause problems, just the same,” said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.

When it comes to the roof, examine it closely for missing or damaged shingles, loose nails or potential leaks, said (First and last name), (County) (Title). Spend some time inspecting the roof truss system because any damage in the truss could affect its strength.

Study the ridge of the roof from a distance. If it sags in the center or at the ends, it could mean the load-bearing walls have shifted.

“Inspect the areas where the foundation and the structure meet to ensure no shifting has occurred. Other signs of shifting include doors and windows that no longer open and close correctly,” said (Last name). “Be aware water lines, gas lines and electrical circuits also may have been disturbed if the shifting is significant enough.”

Both inside and outside the house, scan for cracks in the masonry near corners, as well as under and around doors and windows. Also, visually inspect or use a carpenter’s level to make sure walls are vertical and straight.

After entering a structure, be on the lookout for sagging ceilings, pooled water and wet insulation.

“Keep in mind, insulation in the wall or attic that gets wet, must be replaced. If it’s sealed inside your home or a building, wet wall insulation won’t dry,” (Last name) said.

Generally, it is a good idea to contact a licensed professional to inspect your property regardless of whether you can see the damage or not. Also, be sure to report any damage to your insurance adjuster.

Before repairs begin, confirm if the work requires building permits.

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