One of the benefits of building with steel is that it inherently withstands any weather conditions extremely well. Without any additional reinforcement measures, steel buildings are able to withstand wind forces of up to 170 miles per hour for extended periods of time. They have also been certified for building in Seismic Zone 4, the regions of the United States with the highest frequency and degree of seismic activity. Steel is non-flammable and can hold up to 20 lbs of vertical weight per square foot. For all these reasons steel is the best building material on the market to withstand the wrath of Mother Nature. However, in areas with extremely inclement weather it is always helpful to take extra measures to weatherproof your home and protect it from damage and moisture. There are several measures you can take to be sure that your steel abode will remain sturdy, dry and cozy for years to come.
Invest in Waterproofing your Home
While steel itself is waterproof, structural weaknesses between the foundation and your home, or between the roof and your home, as well windows, doors and ventilation shafts all increase the likelihood that water could enter your home and cause damage. To protect the exterior of your building as well as the windows and doors of your home it is best to invest in waterproofing methods, which will help divert excess precipitation away from your home. It is relatively easy and affordable to attach additional waterproofing accessories to your home, such as gutters, downspouts and overhangs. Overhangs extend your roof past the point where your roof and walls intersect. Most overhangs extended between one to three feet past your walls and help divert rain and snow off your roof and away from the sides of your building. For additional precipitation control gutters can be attached to the edges of your overhang to help catch and control water. Downspouts can then divert this water away from both your building and its foundation making sure there is less sitting water gathering around the base of your building.
Apply Additional Sealants
Most all steel buildings come standard with a clear Galvalume coating. This coating is highly weather resistant but for areas with high humidity, intense heat or heavy rainfall it may be best to add an additional layer of specifically designed sealant. There are several types of weather proof coatings on the market and the type you use will depend upon your climate. For very wet climates there are waterproof sealants, which help keep moisture off your building and away from underlying insulation, as well as preventing the buildup of rust. There are also thermal coats, which are beneficial in particularly hot and humid climates and help prevent sun damage to the exterior of your building, as well as fireproof sealants that are ideal in extremely arid climates. Before applying these additional sealants sand down the surface of your building, which will rough up the steel allowing the sealant to be absorbed better. Never apply in weather colder than 50 degrees Fahrenheit and allow all surfaces 48 hours to fully dry.
Invest in the Right Insulation
The right type of insulation and how it fits your building can make a huge difference in your building’s ability to withstand the elements. There are many different types of insulation, some have to be installed at the time your building is built while others can be installed afterwards. Make sure you properly research the type of insulation you are considering installing as well as all construction professionals who will be helping install the insulation. Insulation with vapor lock and moisture resistance will be beneficial in climates with lots of rain or snowfall. If moisture gets trapped in your insulation it will make the insulation ineffective, leading to the loss of heat and potentially breading mold and mildew. For areas that are prone to high temperatures select insulation that is especially designed to divert radiant energy. This will prevent outside heat from being transferred through the surface of your building into the inside air. Check the warranty periods on the insulation you install. Most insulation containing cellulose or forms of plastic may have a six year warranty period, while fiberglass based insulation may have a warranty lifetime of ten years. As insulation is nearing the end of its warranty period consider replacing it with a new layer. As insulation nears the end of its life its moisture barrier can weaken leaving it prone to mold and mildew which could damage the structure of your house. Its ‘R-value’ or ability to reflect and retain heat also greatly decreases making the insulation a lot less effective and potentially creating a spike in your heating and cooling costs.
Ensure your Foundation and Roof are Secure
Both your roof and foundation also play a large role in the stability and structural integrity of your building. A weak foundation may allow moisture to settle around the base of your home, which could eventually lead to a shift in the land and damage to the structure of your home. A weak foundation also decreases your home’s ability to withstand wind forces. As mentioned above most steel buildings can withstand winds up to 170 miles per hour, but this is only if they are properly anchored to a secure foundation. Once your building is first erected be sure to refer to the official ‘Engineered Foundation Plan’ to be sure that all anchor bolts are in the correct position and secure. Also consider the pitch of your building’s roof and how that affects it ability to withstand the elements. In areas with heavy snowfall a roof with a steep pitch will prevent the buildup of snow on top of your roof, which places a lot of vertical stress on your building.
Secure all Windows and Doors
When first installing your windows and doors take into consideration the typical weather patterns in your area. In areas with strong winds it is best to position windows and doors away from the direction of incoming winds. Use heavily insulated glass, or polycarbonate glass on windows that need extra protection from wind, rain and heat. Also consider weatherstripping in extremely cold climates. Weatherstripping provides an extra seal around doors and windows to prevent drafts from entering the building.
Author: Conrad Mackie