Checking Your Roof for Storm Damage
There’s no good time to find out your roof needs repair — but you can mitigate the pain by routinely checking your roof for damage after severe weather. Waiting for a leak or damage to present itself gives the problem time to grow and worsen, pushing you to a place where an expensive roof and interior damage repairs are your only option. But being proactive in checking your roof for damage after severe weather hits can help your roof — and your savings — stay healthy.
How to Check Your Roof
Different styles of roofs require different inspection methods. No matter your style of roof, begin your inspection by examining its exterior. You can get an idea of your roof’s condition with both feet on the ground by looking for obvious damage with the naked eye or a pair of binoculars. It is highly recommended that you do not get on your roof unless you are experienced in roof repair.
After a storm, check for any debris that was blown on top of your roof. Debris could have damaged your roof when it hit, or could create additional damage if it’s not removed right away. If there’s obvious damage, such as a hole formed by flying debris or a fallen tree, call a professional as soon as possible.
When examining an asphalt-shingled roof, look for loose, broken or cracked shingles. Look for any bubbling or blistering in a shingle, as that indicates moisture has made its way to the interior of the shingle. A shingle with any damage should be replaced immediately to avoid leaks or further structural damage.
Wood Shingles and Wood Shake Roofs
While less common than asphalt composition-shingled roofs, wood-shingled roofs offer a more natural look than their more common counterparts and are more environmentally friendly. However, wood roofs require more vigilance and care from homeowners, especially after a storm.
Look for any separated, broken, cracked or otherwise damaged shingles or shakes. A damaged wood shingle or shake can quickly cause an expensive leak, so replace it as soon as possible.
Tile roofs offer another unique-looking alternative to the modern asphalt shingles. Tile roofs are often more expensive, but are more fire-resistant, provide more protection against high winds and have longer lifespans than other roofing options.
Look for broken or chipped tiles and for any separation between tiles where water might seep in. In particularly severe storms with heavy winds, edge tiles could become separated and fly off, causing damage to other tiles.
Metal roofs are the easiest of roofs to spot damage on — if hail damages your roof, you’ll see the dents. But dents on a metal roof don’t necessarily mean you need to replace it. Check for any openings in the metal that could cause water to leak into your home. Look for signs of rusting, as well as any separation between panels.
Most often made using waterproof materials, and generally used on business buildings, flat roofs are also relatively easy to spot damage on after a storm — but not from the ground. Ask a qualified professional to inspect the roof for damage if you are concerned that your home has been damaged.
A professional should look for any pools of water, indentations or tears in any seams where moisture could gather or water could seep through. They should also make sure the drainage system is working, as flat roofs don’t have a self-draining incline like other roofs.
Gutters, Vents, Skylights and More
Roof damage isn’t limited to broken roofing material. Gutter damage or a broken seal around a skylight can cause just as much of a headache as a lawn full of shingles.
From the ground, look at your gutters to see if they’ve loosened, have broken off from the roof or are full of debris. If a gutter can’t effectively take water from the roof to its intended destination on the ground, it could gather around your home’s foundation. If your gutters are still attached but full of debris, the debris could gather on the roof leading to the deterioration of roofing material and leaks.
If your home has a chimney or skylights, ask a qualified professional to check the sealed edges around them to make sure water can’t make its way in. A professional should also check any exhaust fans or vents to make sure they can release air appropriately and aren’t blocked or clogged.
Once you’ve given the exterior of your roof a once-over, it’s time to see if it’s showing any signs of damage from the inside. If you have an attic, look for any leaks or soft spots in the ceiling that would indicate a fault in the roof. Check along walls for any water damage, or for any signs of animal life that would indicate a newly-formed hole in or along your roof.
If you don’t have an attic, check the same areas along your living space ceilings, in and around your cabinets, and along any skylights, vents, chimneys or walls. If you notice any leaks or damage, contact a professional immediately — it’s much cheaper to have repairs done early on than it is to have an entire roof replaced. Identifying interior water damage quickly can also help mitigate potential mold and mildew problems in your home.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage From a Leaking Roof?
If the damage is the direct result of a storm, such as a hole made by a falling tree or wind damage, you’ll be covered. However, if the damage is the result of wear and tear, the repairs to your roof will not be covered. Your American Family Insurance agent can help you navigate the particulars of your policy and plan for the unexpected. And with a little preparation, you can be on the road to recovery in no time.