Man-made hurricanes

A recent IBHS study offers insight into wind-driven water entry issues

The insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) Research Center is a unique, state-of-the-art, multihazard-applied research facility in Chester County, S.C. The facility, which opened in October 2010, enables researchers to more fully and accurately evaluate various residential and commercial construction materials and roof systems.

In August 2011, IBHS conducted a full-scale study of wind-driven, water-penetrating openings in residential roof systems. The study offered an opportunity to gain insight into roof and ventilation system wind-driven water entry issues. The study modeled real-world, post-event damage assessments in areas where hurricane winds were strong enough to rip off roof coverings but not strong enough to blow off roof sheathing.

Why study hurricanes?

During hurricanes and strong wind events, significant property damage and extended occupant displacement routinely occur because of water intrusion. In addition to wind-driven water pouring in—or being blown through—seams between roof sheathing elements when the primary roof covering is damaged and underlayment is lost, water intrusion through residential roof systems can originate from attic ventilation elements, such as ridge, gable-end and soffit vents. This type of damage particularly is common in inland areas where hurricane-strength winds occur but building codes and standards are not as stringent as in coastal jurisdictions.