This article was crafted with the help of Superior Roofing Company of Georgia, Inc.

Doppler radar can tell you when a storm is approaching, but it can’t tell you what kind of damage it will do to your roof. There isn’t always much you can do in preparation, but there are a few things you need to know in case damage occurs.

It isn’t easy to assess how extensive or severe the damage to your roof is after a storm rolls in. It could be anything from simple repair to a full roof replacement. Ron Herring from Superior Roofing Company of Georgia explains the different types of damage that may occur, how to tell whether less noticeable damage has happened, when the damage may require a replacement, and how to best protect a compromised roof until a professional contractor can help you.

How storm damage affects your roof

The most common weather elements that hurt your roof are wind, hail, falling trees, and rain.

  • Wind can blow shingles right off your roof, leaving it vulnerable to water intrusion. Water can seep into damaged underlayment and begin to rot the decking below. Even a small number of fallen shingles can lead to extensive water damage. Simply nailing shingles back down on damaged decking will not solve the problem. It is important to find out the status of the underlayment and decking when shingles blow off in a storm; otherwise, you may have additional problems down the road. Shingle loss may or may not require a roof replacement, depending on the number of shingles that have blown off, the extent of the water damage, and the age of the roof.
  • Hail smashing into the top of your house strips the granules off your shingles. This matters because granules protect your roof from UV rays, which will prematurely age the shingles, leaving them more vulnerable to cracking and blowing off and ultimately allow water to seep in through the roof. The fewer granules on your shingles, the lower its level of UV protection and the quicker the roof will age and need replacement. To determine if your hail damage is worth a roof replacement, insurance adjusters follow a certain formula of how many hits your roof has taken per 100 square feet. The threshold between a number that warrants repair and one that warrants replacement will vary among different insurance companies.
  • Falling trees can damage and poke large holes in the roof’s structure, opening the home up to water and wind damage if the storm is still roaring outside. If the damage is localized, it is likely that the damaged area can be rebuilt, especially if the roof is relatively new and, as such, more resilient to breakage. However, the extent of the tree’s impact may lie beyond any visibly harmed areas, as the open hole may have allowed water to seep into areas that don’t appear to have suffered a direct collision. A fallen tree can also continue to fall into the roof after its initial crash. If it is safe to leave, whenever a tree has fallen on a home, all members of the household need to get out of the home immediately since further invasive damage may be shortly to come.
  • Rain by itself, luckily, won’t cause much damage to the roof unless you have a defective installation or other, more major roof damage that allows water intrusion. However, interior water damage is one of the key things to look for when surveying the status of your roof after a storm. The tricky thing, of course, is that it may not always be immediately apparent that shingles are missing, that water has seeped under poorly installed flashing, or that damage to the roof has compromised the underlayment and allowed seepage. By the time water damage is noticeable, earlier issues that passed unseen may have grown into extensive problems for the roof, and a quick fix for one visible area may not be effective. Moreover, a long history of persistent water issues may indicate a poorly installed roof that warrants replacement.

Surveying the damage

The most common result from storm damage is leaking water. Ron recommends heading up into your attic to investigate. After a storm, homeowners should primarily look for water seepage. “The vast majority of the time it’s very evident, like a big water stain on your ceiling or damp insulation, but a lot of times, you can have leaks that are not large enough to soak the insulation and stain the ceiling,” Ron explains. “So even though you have storm damage, you won’t always be able to identify it yourself.” A trip to the attic can help immensely in spotting a problem, and a professional roofer can offer guidance if you see anything that strikes you as a possible issue.

Tarping the roof

“The most important thing homeowners can do if they experience storm damage that needs to be repaired is to tarp the roof. You can head down to the local home supply store and purchase a regular roofing tarp. Once you obtain a tarp, it’s not enough to simply place it over the damaged spot, because it can easily blow off. You need to go a step further and secure the tarp. This is done by edging the entire perimeter of the tarp with two-by-four boards and nailing them into the roof. This damaged area of the roof likely needs to be replaced anyway, so it is OK to pound some nails here,” Ron says. “It’s best to use boards and not just nail directly into the tarp itself, as boards provide a larger surface to secure the tarp and keep it from blowing off until repairs can be made.”

Interacting with a roofing contractor

It can be very frustrating when you make a round of calls to roofers after a storm and the earliest someone can get to you is in several weeks, but heavy storms typically leave good contractors backed up for a while. If your roof has been damaged, the best thing you can do is immediately tarp the roof to minimize further damage (see above) and wait it out until a reputable contractor is available. You should also use this time to contact your insurance adjuster and document or take pictures of any storm damage and its effects on your entire home. Be wary of anyone who knocks on your door during this time and offers to tackle your storm repairs right away. There is, of course, a chance that they’ll be excellent, but it is also quite likely that they are a group of fly-by-night contractors that can leave you with more damage than when they started. Fly-by-night contractors cannot be held accountable for the work they do on your roof if they skip town as soon as they finish your project. Therefore, they are less likely to do a careful job, and you will have little to no recourse down the road if their work leads to additional damage.

This article was created with the help of Superior Roofing Company of Georgia, Inc., an Atlanta expert in Roofing. While we strive to provide relevant information to all homeowners, some of the material we publish may not pertain to every area. Please contact your local Best Pick companies for any further area-specific advice.

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