As hurricane season starts to ramp up, ensuring your roof is prepared is important. Roof damage is one of the most common damages from hurricanes, so proper hurricane roof preparation shouldn’t be skipped out on. Not preparing your roof for a hurricane can lead to a wide variety of damages resulting from water, wind, and mold if you’re not quick to react.
When You Should Begin Preparing Your Roof for Hurricane Season
The Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1st and runs through November 30th. Preparation for hurricane season should ideally start in late April to early May. But beware: there have been times where hurricanes come before the season has started. Keep an eye on weather reports in case a sneaky storm creeps up on your area.
Tip: Try to buy materials during the months before hurricane season begins. When a hurricane is looming over your area people are quick to stock up, leaving empty shelves and you without a way to prepare.
What Damage Can Hurricanes Cause?
Hurricanes can cause a wide variety of damage. The two most common being wind and rain damage. Wind speeds can be as low as 74 mph or up to and above 157 mph. This depends on the strength of the hurricane. And with hurricanes, there is also a possibility of tornadoes. This deadly combo leads to flying debris which could cause impact damage or completely tear the house off the foundation.
Water damage from hurricanes can creep up on your roof after the fact. Mold can grow in unlikely places thanks to water damage. This mold can make you and your family sick and can lead to long term damage to the lungs. It can also cause damage to the structure of your home, including your roof, by degrading the material used to hold the house together.
10 Steps to Hurricane Roof Preparation
We’ve outlined the 10 steps you need to take for proper hurricane roof preparation:
1. Schedule a Roof Inspection
Call in a professional to ensure that your roof is up to par. While you could try and use the internet, a roof inspector knows exactly what to look for. Things that are little and would go unnoticed will be identified by a professional.
Getting your roof inspected before hurricane season gives you time to schedule any necessary repairs.
2. Secure Yard Furniture and Potential Projectiles
Flying debris is one of the major dangers of a hurricane—especially when it comes to the integrity of your roof. Nothing is worse than looking outside to see the trampoline you spent a pretty penny on is flying through the air at Mach speed. Besides larger objects, smaller furniture or tools can become deadly projectiles when exposed to hurricane-force winds.
To protect your home and your family against potential projectiles, ensure you move all loose objects inside the garage or shed. Larger objects that can’t be moved inside should be secured.
3. Have Any Loose Shingles or Tiles Fixed
Loose shingle or tile can come loose when a hurricane strikes. These shingles and tiles can lead to further damage once they come loose and turn into projectiles. It also then opens your home to damage as the shingles and tile are no longer in place to protect it.
The roof is the first line of defense for your home and you want to make sure it’s ready to stand up to a hurricane. Loose shingles and tiles will likely be identified during a roof inspection. Be sure that any loose shingles or tiles have been fixed in advance of hurricane season.
4. Have Trees Near the Home Trimmed and Clear Debris
A fallen tree is extremely common during a hurricane. The strong winds can overpower almost everything, including the thick roots of a tree. You may want to consider having any large trees near your home removed. While the shade is nice during the summer, a tree landing on your home during hurricane season is much less pleasant.
Having too many branches near your roof is another problem you should have fixed before the hurricane season. Branches can be torn from trees or rub against the roof causing major damage. To avoid having repairs done after the fact, schedule a tree trimmer to prune your trees pre-hurricane season. Hurricane season or not, keeping your trees under control can help avoid room damage throughout the year.
5. Have a Tarp On-Hand
A tarp is a staple in the hurricane season thanks to its wide variety of usage. A tarp can be used to go over the roof initially to ensure shingles or tiles have a protective layer between them and mother nature. It’s the first line of defense against harsh weather and flying debris.
Tarp can be used for a variety of different areas. It can be used to cover equipment, sheds, pools, and swingsets. The tarp is a hurricane preparer’s favorite tool. Many high-quality tarps can also protect from impact damage and are built with tear-resistance materials. This makes it a good option to throw over windows that may have leaks or pre-existing cracks.
6. Review Your Insurance Policy
Many people have insurance but have no idea what their policy entitles. Nothing feels worse than thinking you are insured against certain damages only to find out it can’t.
Your insurance should help mitigate the cost of hurricane damage. If you find that your insurance policy covers very little, it may be time to upgrade. Always play it safe.
First, make sure your homeowner’s insurance policy is up-to-date. Take inventory of your possessions using written documents, photos, and videos. If need be, you can talk to your agent about setting up a supplemental policy if your existing one does not cover hurricane-related damages.
7. Have Roof Straps Installed (or Repaired)
Roof straps are an ever-evolving technology in the roofing industry. There continue to be advancements in how we can prepare our roof for a hurricane and the roof strap is one of the best options. Metal straps go over the trusses or rafters of the roof to hold the ceiling and roof together. This will make it more difficult for wind to remove the roof entirely during a hurricane.
8. Schedule Repairs You’ve Been Putting Off
A minor crack or leak can lead to serious problems during a hurricane as the issue is exacerbated under the intense weather. If you are already missing a few shingles or tiles, or you know of a preexisting leak, you’ll want to contact a roof repair professional to assist you.
The cost of repairs for minor problems will be nothing compared to the cost of major repairs after a hurricane or the potential installation of an entirely new roof.
9. Cover Skylights
Skylights are one of the most susceptible to roof damage. They are made up of a few inches of glass that can easily be cracked, shattered, or even just simply blown off of the home. Skylights usually lead right into the house and if you do not have a separate covering for the skylight, it can immediately start causing water damage.
To prevent damage during a hurricane, make sure you take extra caution for skylights. They should be covered with plywood or a metal cap to prevent damage.
10. Check and Store Importance Documentation
Besides having your valuables stored away in a safe, accessible spot, you’ll want to ensure all your important documents have been rounded up as well. You want to have before pictures of your home, insurance documentation, and any necessary warranties in a safe spot. If these documents are lost or destroyed in the aftermath of a hurricane they may be difficult to retrieve, leaving you in a bad place.
How to Care for Your Roof After a Hurricane
So, you weathered the hurricane. Plus, because you were prepared, your roof is still intact. There are a few steps you’ll want to take as you get your life back to normal. These include:
- Checking the roof for any damages
- Checking the interior to see if there is invisible or hard to find cracks
- Calling your insurance provider to start a claim as needed
- Calling in a professional to start the repair process as needed
The most important thing to do post-hurricane is to get a professional out to inspect your home, especially in the event of a named storm with 70 mph winds or more. If you get a clean bill of health from a professional then when another hurricane comes through, and your roof does get damaged, your insurance company can’t pull the ‘preexisting conditions’ card.
Hurricane roof preparation is of the utmost importance for Floridians. The damage to a roof can be devastating and costly—sometimes requiring an entirely new roof. Being prepared can avoid a lot of headaches later on.