Roof damage is one of the most critical problems that can afflict a residential property. If hail or wind damage has ravaged your house, it is crucial to have a professional roof inspection as soon as possible after the event. A professional can determine whether the storm damage is minor, or whether your home will require significant repairs to become habitable.
Ensure Your Roof Is Safe
The first thing to do in the aftermath of a major hail or windstorm is to ensure your roof is safe. This way, you can quickly determine whether your house is safe to occupy or whether you should clear the household and seek accommodations elsewhere until further notice.
The most visible sign of an unsafe, storm-damaged house is when a tree, pole or power line has crashed down upon the roof. Whether the damage smashes through the roof and walls or remains on the outside, the weight of a tree or pole could inflict tremendous stress on the structural integrity of your house. Even as the walls remain intact, cracks could have already formed along the internal beams. Without proper maintenance, these cracks could soon spread and cause walls and ceilings to collapse.
If the damage to your roof is major and obvious, contact a friend or relative for accommodations or relocate to a hotel until you have reestablished the basic supports of your household structure and roofing.
While a downed tree or poll is easy to spot from afar, other types of roof damage require closer inspection. Unless you have experience with rooftop maintenance, you should not get onto your roof to perform these types of inspections. Shingles can crack under bodyweight and footstep stress. Climbing onto your rooftop can also be a dangerous activity, especially if the roof is higher than one floor off the ground.
For close-up inspections of damage to the shingles, flashing, chimney and air vents, it is best to have a professional perform this work and assess the overall damage. If you are comfortable climbing on the roof to do an inspection, have your camera or smartphone in hand to capture visual evidence of any damage you find.
Dented Gutters, Downspouts, Siding Damage, Deck Damage, A/C Damage
When hailstorms rip through town, the blunt impacts of hailstones are liable to impact all corners of a residential property. As soon as a violent storm has cleared from your area, the first thing to do is inspect your property from top to bottom on all four sides for damage.
Hailstones will often dent gutters along the sides of rooftops. If you notice any dents or bends as you check along the gutter system of your roof, hailstones are the probable culprit. Dented gutters can be very problematic for the drainage of your roof and should, therefore, be a high maintenance priority.
Other things to check along the exterior of your house include the downspouts, siding and decks. Hailstones, especially large ones, can leave cracks on patios and chips along siding. If you have an externally exposed A/C unit, check for damage along the enclosure. Other places to check for damage include fencing and backyard fixtures.
Examine the Roof for Missing Tabs on Shingles
In the immediate aftermath of a windstorm, one of the first things to examine is the state of the shingles on your roof. Depending on the direction of the wind currents, roofing may withstand or buckle under the pressure of powerful gusts.
On roofs comprised of three-tab asphalt shingles, strong winds are known to blow off tabs and leave the under-layer exposed. You can detect this problem with your naked eye from ground level. If you notice darker areas in the space of one or more tabs, you have lost those shingles. Missing tabs can leave your roof vulnerable to leaks, intrusive winds and more extensive damage if the problem is allowed to fester.
Look for Cracks in Roofing
On the roof itself, one of the most telltale signs of storm damage is when the shingles become cracked. On shingles made of wood, clay or concrete, cracks are a sign of hail damage. Hailstones the size of baseballs fall at roughly 100 miles per hour and can split shingles down the middle on contact. The blunt force of hail can also knock out roofing nails and cause select shingles to fall right off the roof.
Cracked or missing shingles can leave your roof vulnerable to leakage. Even if the problem does not appear in the immediate aftermath of a storm, subsequent rainwater can work its way through the exposed parts of your roof and weaken certain spots along the underlying foundation.
Look for Areas of Missing Granules
Hailstones also inflict damage on roofing made of asphalt and steel. The protective granules on asphalt shingles tend to get chipped on contact with hail, which leaves the asphalt itself exposed to damaging UV rays. On steel roofing, dent marks serve as indicators of hail damage.
In most cases, damaged granules are not readily apparent to the naked eye without close inspection. The granules on a healthy set of shingles have an evenly dispersed, textured, sand-like appearance. If the granules have gotten damaged by hailstone impacts, they will have no texture in certain spots. Often, these spots will be lighter or darker than the overall granule color. Without the necessary texture, rainwater and UV rays can work their way into the asphalt.
Look for Nails That Are Loose or Broken on Shingles
Strong wind gusts that cause upsweeps along the bottoms of various shingles can expose the hidden nails that hold shingles in place. On some shingles, the impact of a gust could be so powerful that the upsweep pulls the nail out of place.
Once the winds have passed, certain nails might stick out from their slots and leave the adjoining shingles dangling loosely amid their surroundings. Other shingles could become cracked down the middle, starting at the nail hole, while still others might break off partially or in full, along with severed nail heads.
Inspect Roof Intersections at Walls
If intersections between roofing and walls exist on your property, inspect along these points following the passage of a blunt local storm. On houses with roof-to-wall layouts, damaged shingles or siding along these areas can leave the intersections vulnerable to water buildup and leaks.
If your house has gables, inspect the valleys between each section of the roof for leaks. Cracked or missing shingles along these areas can leave the underlying wood panels vulnerable to rainwater saturation. Missing shingles can also expose the flashing to water. If the drainage system also malfunctions due to hailstone damage, water could get trapped along various points of the roof.
Improper drainage leaves standing water to slowly penetrate into the surfaces of the roof, causing rot. On wood, this can lead to moldy, soft spots that ultimately allow water to leak through to the inside. Along the surface of the flashing, absorbed water could have a corrosive effect. On spots where rust intensifies, holes are liable to burn through the surface of the flashing. Without this protective layer, rainwater could slip right through the intersections between the roof and gables, as well as any roof/wall intersections.
Look for Separations of Flashing From Chimneys, Skylights, Roofs, Etc.
In a heavy wind or hailstorm, some of the most vulnerable parts on a residential roof include the flashing that surrounds the chimney and air vents. If gaps have formed due to blunt force from hailstones or upsweeps from wind gusts, these openings could allow water to trickle into the interior of your home.
If your home has a sunroof, the flashing that surrounds the outer frame could also become compromised. Of course, a crack in the glass would be the most immediate problem on this feature. The edges, however, could easily be vulnerable to seeping water if gaps have formed around the sunroof as a result of the storm.
Interior Inspection for Signs of Water
Whether or not you perform your exterior roof inspections yourself, you can do some checks throughout your house to assess the extent of the possible internal damage. If you find a leak in one of the rooms, mark the area that surrounds the spot for future references. Leaks can occur in fits and starts, depending on whether rain or standing water is in progress.
Of course, not all leaks consist of streams between the ceiling and floor. You might discover some leaks due to puddles on the floor. If a portion of your carpet or hardwood floor has become discolored or a puddle has formed, chances are there is a drip coming down from overhead. The drip could be due to a tiny hole that might be extremely hard to spot on the ceiling. However, that very hole, if not rectified, could lead to more extensive damage if you do not fix it.
Internal leaks also occur along walls. When this happens, the source of the leak is usually along the seam between the ceiling and the wall in question. You should generally deal with leaks as soon as possible, no matter how minor, due to the rotting effects of evaporated water.
Call Your Insurance Agent and Allow Them to Inspect the Property
After a storm has blown over your house, one of the first things you should do is contact your insurance company and report the damage. In the aftermath of a major storm, a local insurance provider will likely be fielding hundreds, if not thousands, of calls and will, therefore, be slow at processing claims.
Note that some insurance companies may be out to save money or are unaware of actual costs to make the necessary repairs. This leads many insurance companies to underestimate the home-repair costs of each claimant in times of disaster.
To protect yourself and ensure you get the coverage you need, it is crucial to document all the damage to your home and have an insurance agent physically come to your property and inspect the damage. You should always be present when this inspection occurs and take photographs and notes of any damage they point out that you did not recognize during your initial examination of the affected areas.
An experienced insurance agent should have a trained eye for the subtleties of storm damage, such as faint cracks on ceilings and walls that could ultimately lead to more dangerous issues. It will be crucial for you as a homeowner to keep records of every detail of the damage to ensure you are sufficiently covered. Only this way will you be able to restore the safety and comfort of your home and ensure its resale value for the future.
Have Professionals Inspect Your Roof
When you take action to secure funds for home repairs, you should also have a service professional inspect your property to ensure your quote was for the proper amount. For example, a professional roofer should inspect your roof before you agree to finalize an insurance claim. Unlike insurance agents, who do not actually perform roof repairs and can therefore only speculate about the nature of the damage, a roofing professional will know how to accurately assess the damage and properly estimate the cost of repairs.
As with any inspection of your property, you should be present when a roof-repair person examines your roof. Take note of all the issues and photograph all the damage this inspection brings to light. Share as much information as you know about the nature of the storm and ask any questions that come to mind when you speak to the roofing professional.
Upon examination of your roof, the roofing professional should be sufficiently knowledgeable of the extent of damage to make an accurate estimate of the repair costs. Faced with this expert estimate, your insurance company will more readily grant the full amount needed for your claim.
Roof Damage Inspections and Repairs from Millard Roofing & Gutter
When it comes to filing a claim on roof damage, it is crucial to have roofing experts on your side who will fight tooth and nail with your insurer for the total amount needed to repair the damage on your roof. As a homeowner, it is too risky to take your insurance company to court if they underestimate and underfund your repair costs for hail or wind damage. Litigation on your part would place the burden of attorney fees and court costs on you, the homeowner.
When storm damage strikes, it is best to have a roofing company that will assess your damage and take your insurer to court if necessary to secure all the funding required to restore your roof to its pre-storm condition. For homes in and around Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska, and Council Bluffs, Iowa, Millard Roofing & Gutter has fought for the full amounts needed for windstorm roof repairs. Contact us to inspect your roofing and home-repair needs if a storm has hit your neighborhood.