Even though modern roofs are designed with storm resistance in mind, gradual damage from wind, hail and other factors causes deterioration that is often difficult to see. This damage puts added pressure on the roof’s stress points, making them more vulnerable and unstable. It’s imperative to spot issues before they become major problems. Knowing what to look for as different types of storms hit your home will help you see signs of roof damage and keep your roof safe and sound all year long.
Roofs are designed to withstand weight and tension by dispersing it over trusses or rafters. When high winds hit your roof, they don’t hit it uniformly. Instead, they target corners and edges. As winds continue to push in these areas over time, the roof will weaken, eventually allowing winds to get underneath the roofing material. Once any insulation is exposed to the elements, you will begin to see leaks and water damage in your home.
Normal rainfall typically won’t cause damage to your roof unless it has already been undermined by other weather. If you have damaged shingles or shakes, water will find its way through holes and cracks. Torrential downpours, on the other hand, can wash away granules, impairing shingles.
If your roof was poorly designed and has areas that are flat or inverted, then pooling water can create significant problems. One inch of water equals approximately five pounds of force upon your roof. Average roofs are made to withstand about 20 pounds of weight, meaning that just four inches of water can stress your roof to the point of collapse.
Roof Damage from Hail
Hail can be harmless or destructive, based on the size and severity of the storm. If the hailstones are big enough, they can knock granules off of your shingles – leading to faster shingle deterioration over time, and possible leaks. The pounding can also compromise the membrane that sits underneath your roofing material, making your entire roof more susceptible to water damage.
Snow and Ice
As mentioned above, the average roof can withstand roughly 20 pounds of pressure. 10-12 inches of fresh powder, three to five inches of packed snow, or just one inch of ice equals approximately five pounds of weight. Imagine how many inches of snow drift into corners or sit on top of flat areas, like porches, during a snowstorm.
Intensifying the issue, as temperatures rise and fall, snow can melt and refreeze on the edge of your roof, causing ice dams. Ice dams allow snow and water to pool onto your roof, stressing edges with excess weight.
Trees and Debris
You’ll probably notice if a tree hits your home, but small twigs, branches, and other debris can hit and then slide off, leaving no evidence that they were on your roof at all. Whenever anything makes contact with your roof forcefully, it can damage the fiberglass mat that sits under your roofing material. This damage will quicken the deterioration of your roof, allowing leaks and other issues over time.
If you have a metal roof, you also need to think about excessive heat and its impact on your roof’s stress points. As the metal bakes in the sun, panels expand and contract, putting stress on seams and fasteners. Once these points are weakened, they become easy targets for water penetration.
Roof Damage From Solar Panels
Solar energy has become increasingly popular. It cuts down on carbon emissions and promises cheap energy after an initial investment. However, since the optimum location to install solar panels is usually the roof, this can lead to some unintended consequences. Often the installation can cause stress to the roof system including shingles, sheathing, and rafters. Installers should abide by industry best practices to ensure that the optimum life of your roof can be achieved. If you are planning on adding a solar energy system, make sure you discuss the implications to your roof with the installer. If you have a system in place and are concerned that it may be causing stress to your roof, talk to a qualified roofer who can perform an inspection and catch any issues before they become problems.
Spotting Damage to Your Roof
The best way to find the damage is with a thorough exterior inspection. If you aren’t comfortable climbing onto your roof yourself, hire a professional to do it for you.
- Shingles and shakes – Look for flipped shingles, breaks, curling, lifting, splitting, and loss of granules. Also, search for missing shingles/shakes and signs of mold.
- Flat roofing – Check for tears, cracks, indentations, seam irregularities, blisters, and wrinkles.
- Cement – Scan for crumbling.
- Flashing – Investigate areas around roof penetrations for buckling or tears.
- Fascia and soffits – Inspect vents for clogging and make sure nearby flashing and shingles aren’t missing or damaged.
- Chimneys – Look for flashing issues, brick damage, and cracking.
- Gutters – Hunt for signs of rust or decay, leaky seams, sagging, loose areas, and clogs.
Don’t forget to check indoors and in your attic for indicators of roof damage as well. Signs of moisture like mold, peeling paint, and drywall issues can point to a major issue.
Roof Damage Repair
Once you have spotted a problem, it’s time to act. Don’t delay roofing maintenance even if it seems minor or cosmetic. The tiniest problem can turn into a large disaster when the next storm hits. Consult a licensed roofing contractor to see what needs to be repaired. Some damage can be fixed independently, while others may necessitate the replacement of your entire roof.
Don’t forget to contact your insurance agent if you believe that a storm caused the damage; the repairs may be covered under your homeowner’s policy. Normal wear and tear, on the other hand, is never covered.
Be observant when it comes to maintaining your roof. Know its stress points and its limitations. By removing snow buildup and ice dams, checking for damage after a wind storm, or putting a reflective coating on your metal roof, you’ll be able to prevent massive problems from sneaking up on you. There’s nothing better than knowing your roof is reliable in the middle of a storm.