How to prepare your home for the coming monsoon

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PHOENIX -- Every year, homes throughout the Valley sustain minor to major damage at the hands of Mother Nature's monsoon storms.

Most Arizona natives will tell you the monsoon starts once we have three consecutive days of dew points averaging 55 degrees or more. That changed in 2008 when the National Weather Service, in an effort to simplify things for people, set specific dates for the beginning and end of the season.

Regardless of what Mother Nature does, the Arizona monsoon starts on June 15 and ends on Sept. 30.

So, with the countdown on to monsoon 2012 on, home expert Rosie Romero demonstrated a few easy thing you can do to make sure your home is ready -- protected from the storms that will inevitably head our way.

A little prep work now just might save you big bucks down the road.

Protecting yourself – and your property – from lightning
Arizona has more lightning strikes than any other state except Florida so if you hear thunder, you or your home may be close enough to be struck by lightning.

Just how serious is this? Lightning travels at 140,000 miles per hour and can reach temperatures of 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit. By comparison, temperature of the sun is 12,000 degrees. Lightning can also travel 40 miles horizontally ahead of the storm.

It’s estimated that lightning causes some $2 billion in damages annually in the United States. That’s more than tornadoes, hurricanes and fires combined.

Although lightning can be overhead, it isn’t clear where it will strike until it’s about 150 feet from the ground.

A good idea for protecting you and your home: Install lightning rods on the roof. Whole house protection involves installing six or seven lightning rods on your roof to provide a cone of safety for family, property and pets.

Frankly, those overcrowded surge protector strips that you hope will protect your computer and big screen TV are no match for outages and power surges common in storms and nearby lightning strikes. Instead, protect all your equipment with a single whole house device on your electrical box. This equipment can also protect you from surges entering through cable TV, electric or telephone lines.

For surge protection to be effective, it must work in only 5 nanoseconds to shield your electrical system, as does whole house protection. That’s equal to 5 billionths of one second, compared with the milliseconds protective strips need to do the job.

Monsoon roof protection
Repairing your roof before a monsoon hits is a great investment in time and money. You can even fix trouble spots yourself if you have a flat roof and aren’t afraid of heights or ladders and are familiar with basic tools. First, climb up on the roof for a visual inspection.

Of the two types of flat roofs most common in Arizona, I feel a foam covering provides the best protection and is easiest to work on. Foam covers the roof completely with no seams or joints to split open and create leaks.

But birds often like to peck holes in the foam and those holes can lead to a leak and water damage in your house. It’s an easy job to fill them with a caulking gun filled with elastomeric or silicone caulk.

On the other type of roof – the built-up style – you will find sheets of roofing membrane with sealing done on seams and on vents and pipes sticking up from the roof. Look at the edges of the roof and at sealed areas for cracks and holes that need patches. Use a putty knife to spread a thick coat of Henry’s asphalt emulsion over weak spots. Then cover the areas with Henry’s reinforcing fabric and spread another layer of emulsion over the fabric. You may have to repeat the process for large cracks.

You can buy either a wet or dry version of emulsion and can do the repair just after a storm if necessary. Another repair may be needed after the roof dries out.

Never repair a roof you have a warranty on! Even a minor repair you complete yourself could void your warranty.

For more of Romero's  information on preparing your home for the monsoon, check out