The construction of most homes follows local regulations. The means any given home will stand up fine under generally normal weather conditions, such as thunderstorms and snowstorms. Unfortunately, the weather sometimes throws more extreme weather at an area and your roof is the most likely victim in those cases.
Take a hurricane for example. Even a low-level, Category 1 hurricane can produce winds up to 95 miles an hour. After that, roof wind damage should come as no surprise. That begs the questions of what qualified as roof damage and how to identify roof wind damage.
Read on and we’ll cover the essentials of what wind damage to a roof is and how to spot it.
What Is Roof Wind Damage?
In essence, wind damage to a roof means anything that compromises the roof’s ability to maintain the building envelope of your home. You can think of the building envelope as all the structures and systems that keep the outside weather outside of your home.
When wind compromises the shingles, membrane, or supporting structures, it compromises that envelope. Your home becomes less efficient at retaining heat or cool air, as well as keeping out moisture. That constitutes wind damage.
Now that you have a general idea of what wind damage means, let’s look at some specific kinds of damage you might see.
Most basic, 3-tab shingles can withstand wind speeds of up to around 60 miles per hour. You can get specialized shingles with higher wind ratings. However, you don’t typically see these shingles outside of areas known for hurricanes or tornadoes.
That being said, almost any area can experience the occasional storm with strong winds. If the winds climb above the speed rating of your shingles, you may see a few tear loose. In extreme cases of prolonged high winds, you may lose a substantial number of shingles.
You cant typically spot this kind of damage with a visual inspection from the ground.
Normal shingles come with an adhesive on the back that lets them stick to one another. High winds can break that adhesive seal.
When that happens, the shingles curl back under the pressure of the wind. You don’t normally see this in the main area of the roof.
Instead, you see curling shingles in high-stress areas of the roof, such as along the edge or on the roof’s ridge, at corners, or near a chimney. Much like missing shingles, you don’t need a close inspection to spot curling shingles. A visual inspection from the ground will usually show the damage.
If you cannot see the entire roof from the ground, though, you or a contractor will want to make a visual inspection from a ladder or on the roof itself.
Another of the signs of wind damage to a roof you may find are lifting shingles. With this problem, the shingle itself remains undamaged. The wind creates enough pressure beneath the shingle that it actually loosens the nails that help hold the shingle in place.
Unfortunately, this is not a problem that you can typically see from the ground. At that distance, the shingles all look intact and secure. You’ll generally only see this issue if you take a close look from on a ladder or on the roof.
Since the nails are loose, it creates a path for water to get into your home through the nail holes. When properly secured, the nails themselves plug the holes securely. Once they lift out, there is enough give around the nails for water to sneak in around them.
Sometimes, the only evidence you get of wind damage to a roof is when the roof leaks. Depending on how dry the weather proves after the high winds, you might wait weeks before the next serious rainstorm rolls through.
If you remember to check after the first major rainstorm after the winds, you can probably spot water in your attic. Depending on how bad the leak is, you might see a puddle on the floor or simple wetness on the underside of the wood that supports your roof.
If you don’t check, you may see brown stains, mold or mildew growth, or bubbled areas in the paint on your ceiling.
Shingles come with mineral granules on them. These granules extend the life of your shingles by offering protection from sunlight and boosting fire resistance. Following heavy winds, you should check your gutters.
If you find a lot of granules built up in the gutters, consider it a red flag. They don’t mean your roofing will fail immediately, but it does mean you’ll likely need a roof replacement far sooner than you originally planned.
Dealing with Wind Damaged Roofs
Assuming the damage to your roof is not catastrophic, how do you deal with that damage. If you’re only dealing with a missing shingle or two, you can probably handle fixing it yourself. Once you get beyond a few shingles, though, you should minimally get a roof inspection by a roofing professional.
They can detail how much damage your roof suffered and provide an estimate for repairs. Unless you possess substantial experience in roofing, securing the services of a roofing pro is the best option for a problem-free repair. As with any major home repair, you should get estimates from several roofing companies.
Roof Wind Damage and Your Home
You can face roof wind damage anywhere in the country. While areas on the east coast will face more hurricanes and the midwest sees more tornadoes, high winds can occur almost anywhere. With extreme weather events growing increasingly common, you should prepare for routine roof checks.
Keep an eye out for missing, curling, or lifting shingles. All of these indicate that the wind compromised your roof. After heavy winds, keep an eye out for leaks in your home and granule buildup in your gutters.
Ready for some more tips for your home? Check out the posts in our Home & Garden section on this site.