Roof Damage

Quick Summary

Roof damage is stressful, especially if caused suddenly by a windstorm, hurricane or tornado. Many homeowners may not know where to begin when their roof is damaged or how to prevent destruction.

About Roof Damage

The damage windstorms can cause to roofing and the rest of your home can be catastrophic. Damage from a severe windstorm can range from a few missing shingles to your roof being completely torn off.

Wind damage typically occurs when winds exceed 50 to 60 mph, also known as damaging winds. Coastal areas are prone to high winds and hurricanes, particularly in the eastern Atlantic and the Gulf coast.

Tornadoes, which typically occur east of the Rocky Mountains, can also cause severe roof damage. They often occur in the Great Plains and can have wind gusts that range from 85 to 250 mph or more.

In addition to wind damage, hurricanes and tornadoes often cause hail storms. Hail damage can be disastrous to roofing and shingles. Homeowners should take extra precautions to protect their home’s roof during storm season.

What Causes Roof Damage?

Roof damage can be caused not only by storms but also from time and natural wear and tear.

Shingles or other roofing materials can go missing or deteriorate. Homeowners may neglect routine roof repair, creating more costly repairs later or a complete roof replacement. Severe windstorms can cause damage to older roofs, new roofs and recently replaced roofing.

Roofs are more susceptible to wind and storm damage when they exhibit:

  • Cracked tiles
  • Lifting, torn or curling shingles
  • Missing shingles or tiles

Additionally, asphalt shingles and wood shingles are also considered more vulnerable to wind damage because wind can easily lift and get under the shingles.

Blizzards and Snow Melt

Blizzards are also damaging to roofing and shingles. This extreme weather can have high winds and often, snow buildup. Temperatures can rise and fall throughout the storm, causing snow to melt and freeze.

If your downspouts are clogged with any debris, your home’s roof will have a difficult time with melting snow away from your roof and home’s perimeter. Your roof can only handle so much weight before the structural integrity can become compromised.

Before winter hits, try to get a roof inspection completed. 

Hurricanes and Tropical Storms

Severe weather, such as hurricanes and tropical storms or depressions, can be a homeowner’s nightmare. Extreme winds and heavy rains can wreak havoc, causing a leaking roof, mildew, mold and more. High winds can even cause tree branches to fly, putting your shingles, underlayment, roofing and home at risk for extreme damage.

It’s essential to protect your roof and skylights from potentially flying objects that could produce severe destruction. Before a storm, bring all loose furniture, potted plants and ornaments inside.

Hail and Windstorms

One of the largest causes of damaged roofs is straight line winds. These types of winds are typically found in thunderstorms and occur when there’s a downward momentum in the downdraft area.

Tornadoes can also produce hail and cause severe destruction. Both of these types of winds can cause objects to fly, such as patio furniture, lawn decorations, tree branches and more.

Flying objects can puncture your roof, damage shingles or worse.

Signs of Roof Damage

Homeowners and roofing contractors can often spot roof damage with a simple roof inspection. Different types of roofs will display different types of damage.

If you have a shingle roof, you may notice loose or missing shingles or spots of granules missing. Mineral granules are added to a roof’s shingles to protect from sun damage and can help extend the lifespan of a home’s roof.

Other signs of roof damage include: 

  • Damaged soffits or fascia
  • Cracks or tears in roofing materials
  • Sheathing decay
  • Curled or warped shingles
  • Dark or stained shingles
  • Crooked chimneys

You may even notice damage to your roof indoors from leaks, such as attic leaks, or water stains on the ceiling or walls.

It’s crucial to inspect your roof safely. You may be able to see signs of roof damage from a short walk around your house, but roofers can do an inspection accurately and efficiently. Additionally, a roofing company inspection will likely be required for an insurance claim and roofing repair.

Risks of Roof Damage

Regular roof maintenance is key to preventing additional property damage. A small leak in your home’s roof can cause financial loss with the replacement cost, as well as serious health risks.

Leaky roofs can lead to mold damage, mildew and decay, causing respiratory-illnesses in humans. Additionally, a strong storm can crack the flashings, making your roof not water-resistant and leading to rot and water damage.

Water Damage

Major storms can also create roofing issues such as water damage. High winds and flying objects can damage shingles and weaken flashings. Additionally, heavy rainfall, accumulating snow and freezing rain, or hail, can compromise your roof’s integrity and lead to major leaks.

Water damage and leaks in your roof can also be a fire hazard. Water and electricity don’t mix well together, and a leak in your roof or attic could cause shorted wires. Homeowners should call a roofing contractor and electrician before inspecting the damage themselves.

Mold Damage

Mold and mildew damage are cause for concern for homeowners. Not only are there health risks for people with asthma, but mold spores can also cause allergic reactions and additional health problems.

If you notice roof damage and a leak, it’s essential to dry the water as soon as possible. Find the source of the leak and prevent more water from coming in. 

Mold damage can occur quickly and spread through your home to your HVAC system. It can then move through vents to carpet, furniture and upholstery. Mold can even infest your walls and framing, putting your home’s structural integrity at risk. Black mold is often a result of chronic water running and is costly and difficult to remove.

Roof Damage Restoration

Roof repair may seem overwhelming, but there are experts available to help you.

If you’ve discovered roof damage, follow these steps to ensure you can have your roof repaired safely and submit the required evidence to your insurance company:

  1. Document the damage: Visually assess and note any damage to your roof, shingles, or property from the storm. Take pictures if you can. If it is safe to do so, walk around the perimeter of your property. Additionally, keep an eye out for water damage in your attic, ceiling, light fixtures or throughout your home.
  2. Call a roofing contractor: Once you’ve had time to record all of the damage you can find, you’ll want to call a roofing contractor. A licensed and trusted roofing restoration company can assess the damage to your home with a professional eye, take a moisture evaluation, provide a quote for repair and restore your roof’s structure.
  3. Contact your insurance company: Prior to starting any roof repairs, you’ll need to submit evidence of roof damage to your insurance company. Using the pictures and notes you’ve taken, you can help ensure a smooth claims process with your insurance agent.

During roof repair, experienced roofers will remove any damaged roofing materials, order new, matching shingles and repair or replace your roof.

How to Prevent Roof Damage

The best way to prevent roof damage is through proper maintenance. By routinely cleaning your gutters, clearing your roof of debris and making necessary roof repairs promptly, you can extend the lifespan of your roof and prevent serious damage.

Routine Gutter Cleaning

Regularly cleaning your gutters can help avoid snow buildup and allows rainwater to flow freely away from your home. Repair any cracked or leaking gutters and replace gutter systems that are well beyond their lifespan.

Regular Roof Maintenance

Removing debris from your roof is key to prevent cracked and dislodged shingles. You might think a pile of leaves on your roof is harmless, but wet leaves can lead to mold damage, and any debris can look inviting to pests and rodents.

Snow on your roof may look idyllic, but too much weight can cause severe roof damage. If possible, clear snow from your roof often to prevent a roof collapse.

Inspecting these areas periodically and trimming trees around your home can also help prevent roof damage during wind storms and snowstorms.

Prompt Roof Repairs

If you notice any decaying shingles, replace them promptly. You might also want to regularly re-patch shingles and reseal skylights, piping and more. Seals, joints and flashings are often locations where leaks begin.

Does Homeowners’ Insurance Cover Roof Damage?

If you need a new roof or roof repairs because of storm damage, you might want to review your homeowners’ insurance. Typically, most insurance companies cover roof damage caused by fire, wind or hail, but it’s essential to review your policy to ensure you’re fully protected.

A lack of maintenance or normal wear and tear is not usually covered. Depending on where you live, you might also require an additional deductible for roof protection. For example, if you live in Florida or in Tornado Valley, you could need additional storm coverage.

Most insurance companies will try to repair your roof before replacing it altogether. Minor damage, such as missing shingles or damaged shingles, can be easily fixed. If they can’t find shingles to match, they may replace an entire section of your roof. However, depending on your policy and the extent of damage, your insurance company may opt to replace your entire roof.

Before submitting a claim, record as many details as you can. Try to include information such as what happened, the cause and location of the damage and more. The more information you can provide, the quicker the claims process can typically move.

Water Damage Advisor

The Water Damage Advisor content team is made up of multiple contributors, writers, and editors. We are your resource hub for anything related to water damage, mold and restoration needs that you may be challenged with facing.

14 References
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  2. Policy Genius. (2019). Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Damage?
  3. Bauerle Roofing. (2018). Prevent Roof Damage with These Six Maintenance Tips. 
  4. Hopewell Roofing. (2018). 10 Tricks to Help Prevent Roof Damage This Winter. 
  5. Service Master Restore. (2020). Residential Water Damage Restoration FAQ.  
  6. Owen’s Corning. (2020). Roof Storm Damage Checklist. 
  7. Angie’s List. (2014). 7 Unexpected Dangers of a Leaky Roof.,carpets%2C%20furniture%20and%20even%20clothing
  8. Roofworks. (2017-2020). Three Common Kinds of Roof Damage. 
  9. GAF. (2020). Do I need a new roof? 
  10. Superstorm Restoration. (2020). The Wind Damage Speed Chart. 
  11. Accuweather. (2020). What's the difference between straight-line winds and tornadoes? 
  12. Bloomfield Construction. (2020). Types of Roofs: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. 
  13. UCAR Center for Science Education. (2020). Where Tornadoes Happen. 
  14. National Hurricane Center and Central Pacific Hurricane Center. (Not dated). Hurricane Preparedness - Hazards. 
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