How Your Roof Can Survive Storms and Snow Damage

tree on roof

The number one cause of severe roof damage in the United States is storm damage. Strong winds can blow your roofing completely off, or merely loosen a few screws. Severe thunderstorms can generate heavy rain, hail, ice, and winds exceeding 100 mph all at the same time. It’s critical that your roofing system is prepared to withstand whatever mother nature throws at it.

Rain Damage

Your roof is responsible for keeping your home dry all year long. The most important aspect of a roof is that is waterproof. If your roof is in tip-top shape, most rainstorms shouldn’t be a problem for your roof. However, even a small rainstorm can exacerbate damage quickly if your roof is compromised.

  • Washing Down Shingles – Water and wind washing over your shingles for hours at a time can cause harm to asphalt shingles by washing away granules, leaving them more susceptible to damage.
  • Standing Water – If you don’t have adequate drainage, rain can get trapped on the roof, especially in the eaves or flat areas.
  • Mold and Decay – Mold can grow quickly on a moist roof. Generally, decay and mold will start between the cracks and crevices of your roof, leading to expansion, deterioration, and insect damage.
  • Damage to Supports – Sometimes rainstorm damage can actually start from the inside out. If you have areas where water seems to pool, it could be a sign of damage to the support underneath the roof.
  • Gutter and Downspouts – Clogs and cracks in the gutters allow heavy rain to slosh down the side of your home, causing damage to your walls, siding, and foundation.

Wind Damage

Wind can cause several different types of damage to your roof. Particularly to the corners, the edges, and the ridgeline. When the wind picks up, these areas are especially susceptible to storm damage.

  • Blow Off Shingles – The high winds can quickly pick up shingles that are loose or damaged. If the winds blow off shingles, it’s pretty easy to see the bare spot on your roof.
  • Damaged Shingles – Even if you don’t have any missing shingles, your roof can suffer during a storm as your shingles get cracked, pulled, loosened, or curled.
  • Punctures – High winds can pick up all kinds of things from the yard or surrounding areas and drop them on the roof. Even small items can cause damage when dropped from high winds.
  • Damaged Flashing – The flashings are the areas around the chimney or other fixtures and are a high-stress point. These areas can be easily lifted by strong winds.
  • Lost Granules – The surface of asphalt shingles are tiny granules that wear down over time. After a strong storm, your shingles can lose granules and be susceptible to further damage.
  • Broken Limbs – Twigs, branches, and limbs from nearby trees can break off in high wings and fall onto the roof, causing damage to the surface.

Hailstorm Damage

Hail may be as tiny as a grain of rice or as big as a golf ball and anything outside is a target. Vehicles, siding, shingles, and gutters can all be damaged by hail. When hail breaks loose, your roof will take the majority of the storm damage.

The Factors That Cause Hail Damage

  • Size – Bigger is definitely not better when it comes to hail. Anything that is 1-inch or larger has the greatest negative impact. Smaller hail, pea-sized or smaller typically doesn’t cause significant damage unless your roof is previously compromised.
  • Density – Hail is essentially giant ice balls that freeze together on their way down to the ground. As they fall, they grow larger and denser. The denser they are, the more damage they can cause on impact.

How Hail Does Damage to Your Roof

Hailstorms often cause storm damage that is so small, it seems insignificant at the time. If left unattended, the damage increases over time until you have a major roof leak the next time it rains.

It Can Damage the Top Layer of Shingles – The most obvious way hail can harm your shingles is by tearing through them. This typically requires very large and sharp hailstones to cut straight through to the roof deck.

  • Water Leakage Due to a Cracked Shingle Mat – Sometimes hailstorm damage is much less obvious. You can’t detect a cracked shingle mat from the ground. Up close, it looks like small crescent-shaped black lines that allow moisture through.
  • Shingle Bruising – Shingle bruising occurs when small hailstones push the asphalt granules on the surface of your shingles further down into the shingle surface. Over time, the granules actually disappear and the shingle itself deteriorates.
  • Granule Loss – The granules on your shingles can wash away with the combination of wind, rain, and hail. When this happens, your shingles will age much quicker and are more susceptible to subsequent damage.
  • Hail Can Harm and Expose Fiberglass Roofing – Fiberglass is more commonly used for commercial buildings and is equally susceptible to hail. Hail can weaken and expose fiberglass roofing causing major damage.

Heavy Snow and Ice Damage

When an ice storm hits, you should always be prepared for the worst. Have a box of emergency supplies like candles or lanterns, radios, or blankets somewhere easily accessible in the event your home is struck by the storm.

A snowy winter wonderland sounds like an ideal holiday setting, but the reality of heavy snow and thick ice isn’t always so cozy. Jack Frost can bring serious potential risks for your home.

  • A Roof Collapse – It takes 48 inches of fresh snow to put a significant amount of stress on a roof. Even if it snows more than 4-feet at once (which is rare), it is even more uncommon for this much snow to stay on the roof (typically it is blown or falls off) A roof collapse is possible but very rare. The states that typically see these snowfall amounts have reinforced roofing structures designed to handle heavy snowfall.
  • An Icicle Disaster – Icicles aren’t idyllic or pretty, they are actually a sign of roofing issues. Ice dams occur when you get water freezers along the eaves of your roof. As this happens, it expands and damages your shingles, opens cracks, and pries off your gutters.
  • The Expansion Cycle – Winter is the ideal time for making small problems much worse. If there is a crack in your roof from the fall, water seeps in and then freezes in the winter. The small crack can now expand making it much bigger, allowing in more moisture, and freezing again. This expansion cycle can occur all winter long.
  • Chipped or Cracked Windows – In addition to the roof damage, snow and ice can cause window damage as well. Expansion, cracking, and punctures can occur in window casings, panes, and frames.
  • Missing, Creased, or Split Shingles – Shingles can be easily harmed in a strong winter storm. Blizzards bring moisture, wind, and heavy snow that can crack, puncture or blow off shingles.

What to Do After the Storm?

Step 1: Call a Professional

Do not get on the roof yourself to check for damage. You may find yourself making the current damage worse, hurting yourself, or both. Call a trained roofing contractor for a full inspection. A professional roofing contractor will conduct a thorough investigation of the following areas:

  • Windows – The glass, vinyl trim, glazing, screens, skylights, and shutters are all susceptible to storm damage, particularly by hail. These areas should be checked and can be repaired alongside any roof damage.
  • Shingles – The contractor will get on the roof and take a closer look for loose, cracked, or missing shingles that may need to be repaired.
  • Gutters – The gutters should be inspected for clogs to ensure they are not full of limbs, leaves, or small branches that were blown in during the storm.
  • Exterior – The exterior of the home is susceptible to storm damage along the siding, paint, stucco, or trim. Your contractor should check the full exterior for any potential damage or discoloration that will need to be repaired.

Step 2: Document Everything

Once the storm has completely passed, and before any repairs are made, pull out your smartphone and document everything. Take both pictures and videos of the storm damage on your property from multiple vantage points.

Step 3: Get Organized

Sometimes you can’t wait for a contractor to come repair your roof, you have to cover broken windows with plywood or create a DIY fix to stop a leak. Keep records and receipts of anything you purchase organized so you can be reimbursed by the insurance company later.

Step 4: Keep It

Paperwork and proof of storm damage is critical when filing your insurance claim, don’t throw anything away until your claim is completely resolved.

Step 5: Call Your Insurance Company

Once you have evaluated the storm damage, taken photos and videos, and made any temporary repairs necessary to prevent further harm, call your insurance agent. Follow their instructions to file a claim and stay in touch with your agent throughout the process.

How Do Storm Damage Insurance Claims Work?

Your homeowner’s insurance policy is there for times like this. When storms cause damage to your home, your policy is designed to help pay for the repairs and get you back to where you started. When you file a claim, you are responsible for paying your deductible which may be anywhere from $500 to $5000. After this deductible, the insurance company issues payment based on your coverage and the work required to repair the home.

How the Claims Process Works:

The claims process can be overwhelming. A reputable roofing contractor can help you through each step to file the claim correctly and get all the coverage you’re entitled to.

Do a Thorough Property Inspection

While you can inspect your property from the ground, we don’t recommend getting on your own roof after a storm. Instead, contact a local professional roofing company for a full inspection. Choose a company that is local and reliable. You will likely receive many cold calls offering free roof inspections in your area, these can sometimes be storm-chasing contractors. Using a local contractor will ensure that any repair or replacement work done is of the highest quality with the best warranties from someone you can trust.

Meet with Your Contractor

After the inspection, discuss the findings with your contractor, share photos, and discuss your coverage. Be sure to share your concerns and ask your contractor any questions you may have.

File Your Insurance Claim

If you have enough damage to warrant filing an insurance claim, the insurance company will schedule an adjuster to inspect the property. Ensure that your roofing contractor will be present with the adjuster so they can advocate for you together.

Meet with Your Adjuster

The insurance adjusters have a specific checklist they will follow when determining the damage. Your roofing contractor can also make sure that the adjuster is aware of all damaged areas to maximize your claim value and ensure your repairs include all damage.

Claim Approval

It should only take a couple of days to get your claim approved and the roofing contractor can begin working.

Start Home Repairing Project

Once the claim is complete, you are ready to sign the contract with your roofing company and get your home on the schedule. The insurance company will provide payment directly to you and then you will be responsible for paying the roofing contractor.

Don’t Get Swept Away in the Storm

When it comes to storm damage, it only takes one strong pull from Mother Nature to wreak havoc on your property. Even if it’s a smaller storm, it’s better to be safe than sorry. A free roof inspection is a no-obligation way to get your roof checked after experiencing strong hail, wind, or heavy rains. The suction, pressure, and pulling of strong storms may cause more damage than you anticipated. Call in a local roofing expert to get your roof repaired before it is too late.

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