Is Your Roof Hurricane Ready?

By Amy DeYoung

Homeowners along the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific, and Atlantic coastline should periodically check their roofs before hurricane season. Most areas recommend that their residents prepare for hurricane season in early May, including stocking emergency supplies, checking evacuation routes, and inspecting their roofs. To help get your roof ready for extreme weather, we’ve shared some steps you can take to ensure it’s hurricane ready.

Examine Your Roof Before Hurricane Season

Homeowners in hurricane zones need to inspect their roofs before hurricane season. You can inspect the roof on your own by looking for loose shingles or damaged flashing. However, scheduling a roof inspection by a professional is your best bet to make sure that your roof is ready for hurricane season. A professional can also inform you of any damage or shortcomings that need to be reinforced and recommend the next best steps for addressing these problems.

There are four primary parts of your roof that need to be checked prior to hurricane season:

  • Flashing: Flashing is a waterproof roofing material that protects your roof from pooling water and redirects water away from the roof corners, chimney, mounted equipment, and off of your roof. Double-check that your roof’s flashing is tightly sealed and connected to your roof.
  • Gutters or downspouts: Clear out your gutters regularly to keep them free of debris so that water can freely flow out the downspouts and away from your home.
  • Underlayment: Your roof’s underlayment insulates and protects your roof decking and shingles against high winds. Check for any rips, punctures, or holes in the underlayment regularly.
  • Mounted equipment: Check that all fasteners and equipment, such as solar panels, satellite dishes, or antennas, on your roof are tightly secured and sealed to the rooftop. We recommend inspecting your chimney, soffit, vent pipes, and skylights for leaks or breaks in the seal.

Check Your Insurance Policy

Before a storm hits your home, review your homeowners insurance policy to ensure that hurricane repairs are covered. Knowing you’re covered can give you peace of mind when you’re evacuating the area.

If you don’t have a policy that covers storm damage, enroll in one before hurricane season starts. The roof repairs your home may need after a hurricane could easily be thousands of dollars, making an insurance policy a good investment in your home.

This is also a great time to ask your insurance provider if you would receive a discount for installing secondary water barriers on your property. Secondary water barriers protect your roof from water seeping through and damaging your attic. If you plan on having your roof replaced or reinforced, secondary water barriers are a great add-on to protect your home. Some providers will even give you a discount on your insurance policy if you have them installed.

Clear Your Gutters

Any debris packed in your gutters can become a hazard to your home, neighbors, and family during a storm with heavy winds. Debris can block heavy rain trying to drain from your roof, potentially causing leaks and water damage.

Before hurricane season, thoroughly clean your gutters or hire a professional to clean them out to reduce your risk of leaks, water damage, and debris being picked up by high winds.

Repair Loose Shingles

Before hurricane season, take a moment to walk around your yard and examine the roof for loose shingles and roof tiles. Loose shingles can become dangerous flying projectiles if picked up by strong winds and leave your roof and home vulnerable to water damage during storms.

Identify any loose shingles and have them secured by a professional roofing contractor.

Check for Rust

Before hurricane season, inspect your roof for rusted metal connections or nails. If you find any, this is an alarming sign that your roof is wearing out, putting your home at risk during even small storms. A hurricane could easily decimate a roof with rusted nails and connections, requiring a complete roof replacement.

Immediately reach out to your roofer to have worn places on your roof replaced before hurricane season to ensure your roof is well-protected during storms.

Inspect the Attic

In addition to checking the roof, you’ll want to inspect your attic for any signs of a leak or weakness.

During the attic inspection, look for the following:

  • Water stains
  • Mold
  • Buckling ceiling
  • Parts of the ceiling that are crumbling or falling apart
  • Leaks

If you spot any of these signs, your roof may be damaged and need additional repairs to reinforce it before hurricane season.

Secure Your Yard

Hurricane winds start at 75 mph, making them incredibly powerful and dangerous. In addition to inspecting your roof, take time to look at your yard, particularly large items like your shed, trees, and debris.

Complete a walk-through of your yard and clean up any loose debris on the lawn. Place all debris in a trash bag and recycle or throw it away before the storm to prevent the hurricane from sweeping it up, creating dangerous flying projectiles that can injure you or your family or break windows.

Prune your trees back as much as possible. All dead limbs need to be removed immediately to prevent possible falling tree limbs, which can fall through your roof, power lines, and more.

Install Hurricane Straps

Hurricane straps are plastic or metal plates installed on your home’s joists or trusses. Once installed, hurricane straps reinforce your roof during strong winds and may prevent your home from collapsing, even if the walls and roof structure are badly damaged during the storm.

A professional can install these on your roof, giving your entire home added wind damage protection. Many insurance companies offer discounts on your premium if hurricane straps are installed on your roof.

Schedule a Roof Inspection

Prevention is always the best approach to home ownership and care. The cost of hiring a professional to examine your roof and repair any weak points will be far less than repairing roof damages after a hurricane or replacing the roof entirely if it’s ripped off during a storm.

Invest in your roof and have a professional roofing company double-check your inspection because a professional will spot details and problems you didn’t notice. Ask the contractor if they recommend hurricane straps, secondary water barriers, or additional reinforcements to any part of your roof.

Closing Thoughts

Even if you’ve been neglecting your roof for years, it’s never too late to give it the care it deserves and provide it with hurricane protection through added reinforcement, such as hurricane straps or secondary water barriers.

For most hurricane-prone areas in the United States, May is the optimal time to prepare your roof for upcoming storms. However, it’s never too late to reinforce your roof for the next storm.

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