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With hurricane season underway, it’s time to make sure your home is ready for a major storm. You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute. Here are nine affordable ways to start prepping your home for a major storm.

1. Install Surge Protection

Power surges can occur instantly during a storm and can damage your appliances and electronics. You can add a power surge protector to your electrical panel and use power strips with built-in surge protectors to help protect your property. Your heating and air conditioning system may also need special protection.

“A power surge could result in immediate destruction to your unit, or … a slow and steady breakdown from repeated abuse,” said Christy Moore of Aire Serv in Brunswick County, North Carolina. “Adding surge protection to your home and heating and air conditioning system can decrease the risk of surge damage.”

2. Cover Your Air Conditioner

You may also want to protect your outdoor air conditioning unit against airborne debris and projectiles, which can lodge in your unit and cause damage. Moore recommends a manufacturer-approved protective cover and warns against using a do-it-yourself solution such as a tarp or garbage bag, which could void your warranty and trap moisture inside.

3. Stock Up on Plywood

Plywood is an affordable solution to protect windows without shutters from airborne projectiles. You can stock up on plywood to prepare for the next storm.

“Always make sure the plywood you purchase complies with any state inspection standards,” said Frank Klavon, president of Glass Doctor in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “Once you have the plywood in hand, you’re ready to start boarding up your windows on the exterior side of your house … during hurricane season, plywood supplies go fast, so be sure not to wait.”

4. Seal Windows & Doors

Leaky windows and doors can let in water, so make sure your windows and doors are properly sealed. This can also make your home more energy efficient.

5. Remove Area Debris

While you can’t clear your entire neighborhood of potential missiles, you should remove or secure anything surrounding your home that could become an airborne projectile. That includes lawn furniture, toys and low-hanging branches or limbs.

“Cutting low-hanging branches, unstable bushes or trees can prevent larger and more expensive accidents from happening. Proper tree pruning also increases the chances that your trees can make it through a storm,” said Klavon.

6. Clean Out Your Gutters & Drains

It’s always a good idea to keep your gutters and downspouts clear, as they prevent water from collecting around your home. In the case of a severe storm, clear gutters can prevent instant flooding of your attic or basement.

“Conduct a visual inspection of your gutters and downspouts to be sure nothing blocks the flow of water from your roof and away from your home,” said Don Glovan of Mr. Rooter Plumbing in Fletcher, North Carolina. “Also, all drains in your house should be kept clear to prevent basement or crawl space flooding.”

7. Check Your Sump Pump

The sump pump in your basement works to keep your basement or crawl space from flooding. Before any major storms, you should make sure it’s operating correctly. Any debris should be cleared from the pump to prevent clogging.

“Clean any debris from around the intake/suction area of the pump. Debris can decrease the amount of water the pump can remove or clog the pump, causing damage or a burn out,” said Glovan. “You should also consider a battery backup system in case a power outage occurs.”

8. Check for Foundation Cracks

“Cracks in the foundation of a home are not always visible, but could be the root cause of potential flooding or plumbing issues,” said Glovan. “Walk along the perimeter of your home and check for signs of stress in the concrete at the bottom, then patch any visible blemishes.”

9. Review or Procure Insurance

You should review your existing insurance policy and make sure your most valuable items are covered for damage or loss. You’ll also want to make sure your policy includes flood insurance, as any home in an area vulnerable to storms can benefit from coverage. (Side note: Your credit score can affect your homeowners insurance policy. You can see where your credit score stands by viewing two of your scores for free on Credit.com.)

Image: CHRISsadowski

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