Roofing materials are designed to survive inclement weather, but they become more susceptible to damage as they age. High winds, heavy precipitation, and hail are typical of bad storms and can cause serious problems for roofs that are not properly maintained. Below, we’ll guide you through how to spot damage after a storm and protect the damaged area until a professional roofing contractor can perform roof leak repair.
Signs of Storm Damage on Your Roof
Not all signs of storm damage are easy to spot from the ground. Keep your eyes out for the following issues, especially if you have an asphalt roof.
- Attic or ceiling leaks: Wet spots, mold, mildew, dark streaks, or musty odors in the upper areas of your house are likely signs of a roof leak.
- Chipped or leaning chimney: Inspect the chimney’s mortar for cracks or chips, and call a professional if you notice your chimney is crooked.
- Dented or loosened flashing: Roof flashing is thin sheet metal that lines roof penetrations and valleys for extra waterproofing. It will allow rainwater to leak through if it’s damaged. Check around chimneys, vents, and skylights for damaged flashing.
- Gutter and downspout damage: Gutters and downspouts are important parts of a roofing system that ensure water moves away from your roof and foundation. If gutters are loose, leaking, or punctured, they won’t function properly.
- Missing shingle granules: If the shingles appear bald or your gutters are full of loose granules, hail or debris may have damaged your shingles.
- Visible shingle damage: High winds may tear off shingles, especially those that were cracked before a storm. Exposed roofing nails are additional signs of shingle damage.
Recognizing Different Types of Storm Damage
Below are the types of damage different storm elements can inflict.
- Hail: Hail damages roofs subtly and insidiously by knocking granules off a roof and weakening the structure of shingles. Granules protect the shingle from the sun’s UV rays, and a weakened shingle is more susceptible to damage from wind and rain. Hail can also cause unsightly dents in metal roofing.
- Rain: Rainwater will penetrate any cracks or holes in roofing materials and leak through to the roof’s interior, causing mold, rot, and other forms of water damage. Standing water on a roof’s surface can also weaken the materials of the roof and promote moss or algae growth.
- Snow and ice: Snow causes many of the same issues that rain does and may also create ice dams. When a poorly ventilated roof gets too warm, snow melts into water, which then freezes back into ice during the night. Ice dams widen even small cracks and loosen the seals between shingles.
- Wind: High winds will loosen damaged shingles or flashing, making a roof more susceptible to rainwater. Winds can even tear tabs off. If the force of a gust is strong enough to fling debris onto the roof, the roof will likely suffer impact damage.
Temporary Repairs Before Permanent Fixes
Your first step if you spot roof damage should be to cover the damaged area to prevent the problem from becoming worse. If you spot a sign of widespread damage, such as a sagging roof, don’t attempt to walk on it. Call for emergency roof repairs as soon as possible. Always prioritize your own safety.
If the roof appears safe to walk on, wait until it’s dry and then climb up using proper ladder and roof safety procedures. Use your phone to take pictures of any damage you find, and remove debris. The simplest temporary fix involves spreading a waterproof tarp over the damage and weighting the edges down. Secure the tarp’s edges on both sides of the roof so rainwater can’t flow underneath the tarp.
You can attend to small leaks, punctures, and cracks with epoxy or roofing cement. You can also cover missing shingles and secure loose shingles with replacement shingles and roofing nails. Be careful, as it’s easy to puncture the wrong areas. Consider using rubber sealant if you’re not confident using nails.
Remember that these approaches are all temporary fixes, and you should hire a roofing company for permanent repairs.
Roof Repair vs. Full Replacement
You should consider investing in a new roof if the damage to your roof is especially severe or widespread. Contact your insurance company for information about coverage for repairs and replacements. Be sure you understand the claims process, which we’ll explore later on.
Consider the extent of the damage when deciding whether you need a full roof replacement, as a repair may be possible if the damaged area is small and isolated. Note that newly installed shingles or other materials will look different and less weathered than the rest of your roof.
If your home’s roof is nearing the end of its life span, then it’s often worth replacing. Basic three-tab shingles usually need to be replaced after 10 or 15 years, while premium architectural shingles and wood shakes can last up to 30 years. Materials such as metal, tile, and slate will last longer.
Working With Your Insurer After Storm Damage
Call your insurance company and open a claim as soon as you notice storm damage. Document the damage with your phone’s camera. The insurance adjuster will usually send an inspector to assess the damage to begin the claims process. The inspector will write up a formal report to share with you and the insurance company.
Next, the adjuster can walk you through the specifics of your coverage and how a repair or replacement can unfold. Wait until your insurance claim is approved before hiring a roofer. The insurance company will likely have preferred local contractors it will recommend. You’ll usually pay out of pocket for repairs, and the insurance company will reimburse you within 30 to 60 days.
Hiring a Roofer for Storm Damage Repairs
If the cost of repair is less than your deductible or close to it, you may not want to file a claim. It’s important in these cases to compare multiple local roofing companies to find the best one for your needs. Ask for recommendations from friends and family, and look at the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website to find highly rated local options.
The BBB website provides important information, such as how long a company has been in business, accreditation status, and outstanding customer complaints. You can look for more customer reviews on sites such as Trustpilot and Google Reviews. Note that nearly all states require contractors to have a specific roofing license, so ask for proof of up-to-date licensure. Request quotes from at least three companies for a better idea of the average prices in your area.
Storms can cause both cosmetic and structural damage to your home’s roof, and it isn’t always easy to tell the difference at first glance. Use common sense when making temporary repairs, and call a professional to perform a detailed roof inspection. Making repairs immediately can prevent further damage. We recommend hiring a licensed roofing contractor to repair storm damage.
Storm Damage Roof Repair FAQ
What are the signs of hail damage vs. wind damage?
Both hail and wind damage can result in granule loss on your roof shingles. Signs of hail damage include dented metal on your gutters, downspouts, and car, while missing roof shingles are a sign of wind damage.
Does homeowners insurance cover storm damage?
Most homeowners insurance covers roof damage from storms. Damage from flooding often requires separate coverage.
How long does it take to get a new roof after a claim?
Roof replacement usually takes two to three weeks after a claim. However, it may take 30 to 60 days for the insurance company to reimburse you.
Can I make repairs before the insurance adjuster visits?
You can make small, temporary repairs to your roof before the insurance adjuster visits, and we recommend covering the damaged area with a tarp. Wait to make any permanent repairs until your roof has been inspected by a representative from your insurance company.