Preparing Your Roof for Natural Disasters

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Though you may live in a region with relatively great weather, there’s always the possibility that your home may be impacted by a natural disaster. Severe storms brought by powerful winds, hail, and tornadoes can cause significant damage to your home, especially your roof. There are times when roofs can be torn off houses due to the destructive force of the storms. So, how can you ensure your house – specifically your roof – is prepared and safeguarded in a natural disaster?

How to Prepare Your Roof Before Natural Disaster Strikes

a roofer reinforcing the roof

Natural disasters can be hard on the home, so it pays to be prepared before it comes. Though you cannot do anything to stop the catastrophe from coming, there’s something you can do to lessen potential damages. Here are some of the ways to prepare your roof for natural disasters:

Get regular maintenance and inspection for your roof

Regular maintenance and inspections are the keys to ensuring your roof is strong enough to face natural disasters. Enlisting the help of a professional contractor to perform regular upkeep and inspections can help identify potential problems before they become major problems.

You can also examine your roof yourself and keep an eye on issues such as cracks or holes. Be sure to inspect the flashings, those thin metal pieces safeguarding your roof against leaks. Flashing is placed around openings like chimneys and gutters. Also, don’t forget to inspect the underside of your roof. Look for cracks allowing light to sneak through onto the roof’s ceiling and walls. Even small cracks can lead to significant water damage and expensive repairs.

If you’re in an area prone to wild weather, consider reinforcing your roof for added protection. You can do this by adding extra support beams or bracing to help your roof stand strong during intense winds and other natural upheavals.

If you’ve had an inspection recently, take a walk around your house and look for any changes. Wind and rain can sneak through and harm your roof’s layers when shingles are missing or damaged. Cracked or loose tiles should be repaired or replaced (loose tiles can become flying hazards in strong winds). Any spots showing wear or early signs of damage are more likely to give in during a storm, so it’s best to address them before the storm season arrives.

Clean your gutters and downspouts

a person cleaning the gutter

When was your last gutter cleanup, whether DIY or professional? If it’s been a while, it’s smart to clear them before the storm season arrives. Take this chance to ensure your gutters are clear and free from debris like leaves, branches, and other stuff like birds’ nests. Gutters play a key role in channeling water away from your roof and through the drainage system, so if they are blocked, it might lead to water damage as rainwater finds its way into the siding. When gutters become heavy with soaked leaves and debris, they could break away from the roof, possibly taking parts of the eaves along.

Also, check if they are still in good shape. Dented or uneven gutters hinder water’s path to downspouts and can create puddles within the gutter. Check for loose or weak fasteners. If your gutter is in bad shape, you may need to replace it.

Opt for premium roofing materials

Investing in top-notch roofing materials ensures your roof’s durability against harsh weather conditions. Seek materials engineered to withstand strong winds, heavy rain, and other natural calamities.

Even if your roof is solid, using high-quality materials during repairs or replacements is key to guarding your roof against leaks and issues that could crop up from accidents or future natural disasters. Moreover, involving professionals in material installation guarantees proper and efficient setup.

When picking roofing materials, research well to find top-quality options at reasonable prices. Also, consider reaching out to past clients of potential contractors to gauge their experience with the company.

Prepare your surroundings

When you’re aware of an approaching storm, tidy up your outdoor spaces near your house. Don’t forget to empty your courtyard or common area of furniture and décor, especially things that may get damaged due to rains, snow, or harsh winds, like outdoor grills.

Anything loose around your property – patio furniture, lawn decor, you name it – can become airborne projectiles in heavy winds. Fasten or store these items to avoid them turning into damaging projectiles for your home or others’. This is particularly vital in regions prone to hurricanes or tornadoes. Flying debris can shatter windows and create sudden pressure changes inside homes. The resulting indoor wind pressure can jeopardize your roof’s stability or even lift it off your house.

Trim the trees, if necessary

It’s also wise to manage any trees in your yard. Prune tree limbs or smaller branches that overhang your house. A branch doesn’t need to fall directly on your roof to cause harm – even swaying branches can damage shingles.

If you spot dead branches or limbs hanging close to your roof, consider professional trimming by a tree care company. Trim your trees annually and maintain a six-foot clearance between branches and your roof to minimize risks and debris buildup.

If you have old trees, examine if they are still healthy. Signs of stress, like misshapen or fallen leaves, missing bark, and withered branches, can indicate tree issues. Leaning trees might have weak roots and could pose a risk during heavy winds. Consider professional help if your trees show signs of weakness.

Remember, trees don’t have to be near your house to be a threat. Their height makes them capable of causing severe damage if they fall unexpectedly. If you suspect your tree won’t withstand storms, consult a tree surgeon to decide the best course of action to protect your roof. They can help decide whether it’s best to cut down or cultivate the tree.

Prevent ice dams

Winter storms can bring risks similar to summer storms. Even without strong winds, frozen branches can snap easily. Plus, snow melting and refreezing can lead to ice dams. First off, preventing ice dams is your primary defense, but you can go the extra mile with ice and water shields. An ice and water shield sticks to your roof like glue – no blowing away in strong winds or buckling under snow and ice pressure. This shield offers superior leak protection during rough weather if an ice dam forms.

Gather emergency supplies

In case disaster does strike, being ready is key. Stock up on essentials like tarps, roofing nails, and tools for repairs. Keep these items stored safely so that you can access them quickly in an emergency.

Prepare a home repair emergency plan outlining the steps to take when disaster strikes. This could include contacting your insurance company, reporting the incident to local authorities, and enlisting professionals for repairs if needed. By being prepared for emergencies, you can minimize damage and respond swiftly to any problems.

Be pro-active

Stay alert to any shifts or problems with your roof. Regularly watch over your roof’s condition and be ready to act if you notice damage or other concerns. This proactive approach ensures your roof’s resilience against natural disasters while allowing you to respond swiftly in emergencies. Plus, keeping tabs on your roof helps maintain its well-being and lets you catch issues early.

Get tarps ready

After storms, tarps are in high demand. Home improvement stores can quickly run out of supplies like tarps and plastic. Even roofers might face shortages after widespread storm damage. So, it’s better to buy tarps before storm season and stash them away. This way, you’re equipped for makeshift fixes to prevent further harm.

Ensure adequate ventilation in the attic

Too much attic moisture can spell trouble for your roof. Confirm that your attic is well-ventilated and not overly damp to fend off issues. This guards your roof against moisture-related problems and prevents other home troubles. Should you spot signs of moisture damage in your attic – like mold or watermarks on the ceiling – tackle them promptly. Consider adding a dehumidifier to your attic to tackle excess moisture and thwart damage.

Check your HVAC system

If you have rooftop HVAC equipment, be aware that these installations are vulnerable to storms and other natural disasters. Ensuring all equipment is securely fastened is crucial. Strapping can keep it in place and prevent detachment during a storm. Strong winds and bad weather can loosen HVAC units and create openings for water to seep in. Leaks often occur around cracked seams on HVAC platforms and exposed ductwork.

If solar panels grace your roof, give them a once-over too. Confirm their stability and ability to withstand gusts and flying debris.

Waterproof your flat roof

If you have a flat roof, safeguarding them involves installing a waterproofing membrane. Waterproofing systems help fend off water damage, a serious concern during natural disasters. The good news is that most types of flat roofs can be waterproofed, adding an extra layer of protection and peace of mind.

Store key numbers in your phone

In case of severe storm damage, filing a claim is important. After alerting your loved ones about your safety, your insurance agent might be your next call. After that, contact your service roofer to schedule temporary repairs promptly. Having these numbers saved in your phone can save precious time, preventing further damage before the next storm.

Review your insurance policy

Give your insurance policy a once-over. Make sure you understand what it covers and confirm it’s up to date. Keep your roof warranty and insurance policy together for easy access. Download a claims form in case power outages hinder online access. Capture pictures to document your roof’s condition before and after the storm. Having proof of storm-caused damage can speed up your claim process and ensure approval.

What to Do After the Storm

Inspect the roof

When a huge, powerful storm is coming, local authorities would ask homeowners in the area to evacuate. And as they return once the weather clears and it’s safe, they might discover their roof has been damaged. When dealing with a damaged roof, caution is key. Roofs can leak, be hazardous to walk on, and have less obvious damage. While missing shingles, roof holes, or a completely torn-off roof are apparent, smaller issues like penetrations, structural harm, and leaks can be harder to spot. Bringing in a roofing inspector can provide you with vital information for repairs, replacements, and insurance claims. But before you call an inspector, do a quick visual check from the ground.

Choosing a qualified inspector is vital to ensure your roof’s and your family’s safety. Don’t hire just anyone willing to climb up. Research and opt for a licensed inspector with favorable reviews, someone you can rely on. Their inspection should be thorough and detailed to catch any hidden damage. After the inspection, heed their recommendations and take appropriate action. Your roof is a crucial investment, so get it repaired or replaced if necessary. Seeking multiple opinions can be helpful, too, offering an unbiased understanding of the damage.

Get in touch with a roofing professional

If you spot any damage or want a roof checkup, it’s time to contact a commercial roofing company. Keep in mind that inspecting your roof on your own can be risky, so if climbing a ladder feels uncomfortable, call in the experts. A skilled roofer will come over, assess your roof’s condition, and determine whether any repairs are needed before storm season.

While you can look for issues from the ground, a pro knows the telltale signs of wear and tear that can lead to trouble. And what if your commercial roof requires repairs or a complete replacement? Planning an inspection well ahead of storm season is a smart move in case a replacement is necessary – preventing water damage within your building.

Essential repairs include swapping out missing or damaged shingles, fixing rusted or harmed flashing, addressing physical roof damage, and tackling mold. A complete roof replacement might be in order in certain scenarios, especially if your roof is older. The sooner you schedule repairs or a replacement, the better for your business.

Be cautious of “storm-chasers,” who take advantage of disaster-stricken homeowners with tempting low prices. While they may promise quality, they often sell subpar roofs and vanish when issues arise. Instead, trust a local contractor with a proven work history over someone offering an unrealistically great deal. Especially in areas prone to harsh weather, find a reliable professional capable of repairs whenever necessary.

DIY or Hire a Pro?

The common advice is that capable DIY enthusiasts can tackle smaller tasks, but it’s best to call in the professionals when it comes to more complex work. This especially holds true when preparing for cyclone season. If you’re familiar with roofing installations, you can distinguish between manageable tasks and those that require expert hands. Here are some factors to consider whether to hire a pro or not:

1. Detecting structural fixes and leaks

Generally, structural repairs can be demanding and time-intensive. This is particularly true for identifying and fixing leaks. Even if you’re a skilled DIYer, can you handle it all before a significant cyclone hits?

2. Addressing metal vs. tile roofing issues

Addressing certain metal roofing problems can be fairly straightforward and swift. Replacing a panel or ensuring proper panel attachment to supports is manageable. Yet, tile roofs might demand specialized roofing expertise. If you have many tiles, going solo might not be feasible.

3. Scope of project

Larger projects are definitely not solo endeavors and shouldn’t be left to chance, regardless of your skills. Strong storms and heavy rainy seasons are no time for guesswork.

Conclusion

Adhering to these tips helps ensure your roof’s readiness against natural disasters and potential problems. Remember to collaborate with seasoned contractors who have roofing expertise and keep a watchful eye on your roof over time, ready to act if issues arise. Armed with these tips, you offer your roof optimal protection against damage from natural disasters and other challenges.

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