Don’t make the mistake of assuming it takes a major storm with lightning and hail to damage your roof. Wind is actually the leading cost of home insurance claims, beating out hail and fire in terms of claim numbers but not cost. According to the Travelers Companies Inc., exterior wind damage was responsible for 25% of all home losses between 2009 and 2015.
Even a storm without hail or rain can cause extensive damage to your roof. High winds may create stress points that can weaken and compromise your roof over time. Wind may also tear off shingles and tiles. With the roof system compromised, you will face even more serious damage during the next rainfall.
Your roof can easily withstand moderate winds as long as it was installed properly. Still, it’s always a good idea to steps outside and inspect your roof carefully for signs of wind damage. Here’s what you should be looking for.
How High Wind Damages a Roof
Wind damages your roof in several ways. As the wind moves over the surface of the roof, it isn’t uniform. The perimeter and corners of your roof are subjected to higher wind pressures than the center of the roof. The National Roofing Contractors Association finds that wind damage usually begins on the edge of your roof.
Once wind weakens the edge, it causes the sealant strips on an asphalt roof to lose adhesion. Now partially unsealed, the shingles are at a greater risk of wind uplift.
Wind will catch and move under any loose areas on your roofing system. As the wind gets below the shingles or tiles, it pushes them up and gives the wind more to grab the next time it blows.
High winds also move debris that can find its way onto your roof. This includes large tree branches, shards of glass, and more that may damage your roof more than the wind.
How to Check Your Roof for Wind Damage
After strong winds, walk around the perimeter of your home and inspect your roof carefully. You should check your roof from the ground and from a ladder, as long as it’s safe to do so. Here are the signs you should look for.
Loose or Clogged Gutters
High winds can carry a lot of debris that ends up in your gutters. Clogged gutters can spell disaster for your roof and foundation. As water has nowhere left to go, it begins to spill over the sides of the gutter system, puddling at the ground by your foundation. It may also wick up the fascia boards and damage your roof deck over time. Strong winds can even knock your gutters loose.
Damage to your gutters may be fixable. Clogged gutters are certainly easy to clean out and even loose gutters can be reattached. Sometimes damage from debris is too extensive and your gutters should just be replaced.
Damage to Solar Tubes and Skylights
Skylights and solar tubes are even more susceptible to damage from wind, hail, and debris than your roof. Solar tubes and skylights may be damaged after strong winds if they are hit by debris like fallen tree limbs. You may notice cracks in a skylight from inside but you probably can’t tell a solar tube is damaged without viewing it from above.
Look for Debris
One of the most common causes of wind-related damage to your roof? Blowing debris, not the wind itself. Check for visible debris on your roof like glass shards, tree branches, trash, and metal. This debris may have damaged your roof by scratching or gouging the roofing materials.
Check for Damaged Shingles
Most asphalt shingles are rated to withstand 90mph winds but some can withstand up to 150mph winds. Still, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration finds that shingles can begin to suffer light structural damage beginning at wind speeds of just 50mph.
This damage may be visible in many ways. You may see shingles that are lifted or even broken. Upon close inspection, the shingles may be curling, have missing granules, or seem like they aren’t lying flat. It may be possible to spot loose nails as well.
Check for Missing Shingles
The most obvious sign of wind damage to your roof is, of course, shingles that have been blown off. You may only see one or two shingles missing or an entire area may be gone. A few missing shingles can usually be replaced. However, a roof shouldn’t be patched or repaired if shingles have gone missing from the valleys of the roof. The valleys are the most vulnerable area and susceptible to water damage. It’s always recommended to replace your roof once the valleys are damaged.
Look for Loose Vents and Ridge Caps
The ridge and hip caps along the roof seams as well as your roof vents can become stressed and damaged over time. Wind can cause the edges of vents and caps to lift and allow moisture to enter. These elements of your roof may even be blown off completely.
Check for Missing or Damaged Flashing
Roof flashing works like a sealer between your roof’s joints to keep out water. Flashing, which is usually made from galvanized sheet metal, is used at the base of your chimney, along the perimeter of the roof, in the valleys, and around openings like skylights and vents.
High winds can loosen your flashing or even tear it away completely. Look for signs that the flashing is compromised.
Not All Wind Damage Is Obvious
Unfortunately, you can’t always tell just by looking that your shingles are wind damaged or wind-lifted. Shingles that no longer have adequate adhesion are considered wind damaged and they pose a threat to your home because they no longer offer enough protection. These damaged shingles are at a high risk of blowing away and they can allow water to penetrate your roof deck. If you aren’t sure if your roof has been seriously damaged, it’s a good idea to have a professional inspect your roof.
Depending on the extent of the damage to your roof, repairs may be possible. Roof repair is only recommended if the damage is localized to a fairly small area. This may be the case if the damage is mostly caused by a falling tree limb, for example, rather than widespread damage to the valleys and edges of your roof.
Don’t ignore wind damage to your roof. After all, your home is only as strong and secure as your roof. After serious wind damage, roof replacement may be your best bet to restore your roof’s function and safety.
Think you may need to replace your roof? Contact the experts at Westchase Roofing for a free quote!