A Homeowner’s Guide to Roofing and Storm Damage
Heavy winds and hail can wreak havoc on your roof. Understanding how to prevent damage, or at least recognize it and repair it if does occur, can go a long way towards setting your mind at ease with mother nature sends her worst. The following guide can help you better care for your roof.
Common types of damage
There are several types of damage that commonly occur during a storm – and the storm doesn’t even have to be a big one to result in damage. Issues to check for after the clouds pass include the following:
Missing or torn shingles
A build-up of gravel in the gutters or along the drip-line of the roof
Bent or damaged flashing around chimneys and vent stacks
Damaged or bent gutters
Branches or other large debris sitting on the roof
What to watch for
There are a few things you can watch for and manage around your property to help avoid damage to the roof. Some have to do with regular roof maintenance, while others are more about general property maintenance.
For example, falling branches and blowing debris are a major cause of roof damage, including punctures and torn shingles. Keeping your trees trimmed back so that they are less likely to drop a branch and cause damage in a storm is vital. You should also secure any items in the yard that could blow and strike the rood in heavy winds.
Hail damage is another major concern. Roofs may look fine, but the truth is that the hail has compressed the shingles and dislodged the asphalt. This is why you should keep an eye out for gravel in the gutters after a hail storm. If you notice a buildup of gravel, have the roof looked at before the next storm comes and causes even more damage.
Finally, take a few minutes to inspect the flashing at least once a month. Often, the flashing requires replacement or repair before the roof needs replaced. If it starts to give out before the roof, rain and wind and work their way beneath it and under the shingles, causing more severe damage. If you notice damaged flashing, get it replaced.
Monitor your gutters
One often overlooked roofing item that helps prevent storm damage is your gutters. These serve a greater purpose than just simply routing water away from doorways. If water overflows from the gutters during a storm, it can get underneath the eaves. This can lead to rotten eaves, wet roof sheathing, and eventual leaks. As the water runs down your walls, it also can rot wood siding or even get beneath the siding and cause a leak.
Take the time to have your gutters and downspouts cleaned at least twice annually. This ensures that leaves, debris, and dirt doesn’t clog the gutters during the crucial period of a downpour. You should also inspect the gutters regularly for leaks. You can do this by running your hose down the gutters and seeing if water is leaking from anywhere, or you can wait until a rainstorm and then check the underside of the gutters for leaks. Also, verify that water is flowing out of the downspouts properly when you are inspecting the gutters.
Immediate steps for after the storm
Now that you know the common causes of storm damage, along with some tips for preventing it, you need to know how to quickly assess your roof for any damage. The following steps will guide you through the process:
Wait for the storm to pass. Trying to check for damage in the middle of a storm, no matter how minor, could lead to injury.
Once the storm has passed, walk the perimeter of your home and check the ground for signs of roof damage. You are looking for pieces of shingles, large branches that may have hit the roof and rolled off, or a heavy buildup of gravel along the drip line of the roof (in the event that you don’t have gutters).
Visually inspect the roof. This is best done from the ground, or at most, from a ladder with someone to spot you. Don’t actually walk on the roof, as this is dangerous for you and could cause damage to the roof. You can usually spot shingle or flashing damage from the ground.
Know how to recognize hail damage. Beyond loose roofing gravel, you can also sometimes spot hail damage by looking for textural differences on the shingles. It helps to have the sun out so you can look at the shingles with the light hitting them at an angle. If you see shiny spots, you are seeing areas that have been compressed by the hail stones. This indicates damage.
Call in a professional for a repair or replacement promptly if you notice any of the signs of damage during your storm inspection. You may also want to schedule an inspection if there was any hail at all, since this damage can be insidious and hard to spot. Prompt replacement or repair is the only way to ensure the next storm doesn’t result in even more damage to your home.