How to Spot Roof Damage After a Storm

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No matter where you live, chances are you have encountered your fair share of storms and bad weather. Winds, tornados, hurricanes, rainstorms, and hail can all leave your home with a significant amount of damage once the storm is over. A considerable portion of the damage to your home might be from a broken roof, so here is how to spot a damaged roof once the storm settles down.

Important note: when checking for damage, notice and write down everything that has suffered harm: If possible, take lots of photos. Those photos can be useful later, for insurance purposes.

Things to check indoors

The signs of storm damage inside your house are relatively easy to spot. First, check your attic or top floor for water damage. Pooling or dripping water might be a reason for concern. While you are there, check for water streaks or stains across the ceiling. Finally, check to see if any sunlight is coming through the plywood. The light is a potential indicator that your roof might need repairing.

Moisture marks, brown, yellow, or grey stains and peeling paint on walls and ceilings indicate a damaged, leaking roof. If you notice a sudden increase in your energy bills, it can also mean that your roof’s integrity has been compromised due to a storm.

Check your crawl spaces and basement for wood rot or leaks. Even if you cannot spot them, you should be able to smell them fairly quickly, as the rotting wood has a rugged, musty odor, which becomes hard to ignore after just one or two days.

If your wooden flooring is soaked, it tends to expand. The same goes for laminated floors.

Besides that, look for sagging wood that feels soft to the touch, as this points to water stored under the floorboards. Look for newly formed gaps or curling or expansion of the floorboards as well.

While you are inside, be sure to look for moisture buildup between your windows’ glass panels. Foggy windows are another potential sign of water damage.

Once you have completed this portion of the process, it’s time to step outside.

Check if it is safe to go outside

Safety should always come first. Before you take any of the steps listed below, make sure it’s safe to go outside. In case you’ve experienced particularly severe bad weather, take a look at the area surrounding your home. If you can see downed power lines or any other electrical hazard, or apparent flooded areas, call the emergency services immediately.

Even if you don’t notice any particular reason for concern, be very careful and vigilant when examining your home and yard as a storm can cause structural issues that might not be instantly apparent. If you are stepping outside after a winter storm, check for patches of ice on the ground.

Once the issues are resolved, feel free to continue the inspection. 

Things to check outdoors

Look out for any damage caused by flying debris. Strong winds can carry broken tree branches or even pieces of glass or metal to your roof. Sometimes, the flying debris itself can do more damage than the rain and the storm. The branches don’t even have to fall off the tree. When blown by the wind, branches on a tree can bring wear and tear to the roof shingles.

Examine your shingles. Healthy shingles stop the rain from coming inside your house, so try to see if there are any missing or damaged pieces on your roof, or even in your yard.

If you have composition shingles, pay attention to any signs of curling or tearing, or lost granulation. Wooden shingles can suffer from decay, mold, and splitting.

If you have a flat roof, check for apparent patches, cracks, or tears. Wrinkles or blisters can also be a sign that the flat roof is damaged.

Check your chimney, ventilation pipes, roof flashing, and fencing for any type of damage. Chimney flashing is particularly prone to wear, as the chimney settles independently from the rest of the roof. Make sure that there are no damaged bricks on the vent and that it’s not leaning.

When it comes to flashing (the pieces of metal under your shingles) in general, look for tears and buckling around the roof penetrations. Make sure that the vents haven’t been clogged or damaged.

Inspect your gutters. The gutters do more than merely draining the rain from your roof while it’s raining. They can also serve as an indicator that your roof has suffered some storm damage. Use ladders to take a look inside the gutters, and, if you notice small pieces of the roof shingles inside, chances are your roof has suffered damage and needs repair or replacement.

Also, if you have noticed any flying debris, now would be a good time to remove it from your gutter as it could cause more troubles for you down the line. If possible, check your downspouts as well.

Clogged gutters can also bring backed up rainwater under your shingles, allowing moisture to penetrate the underlayment or the roof deck. Make sure that they have been properly cleared.

Lastly, check for excess or crumbling roof cement, and decay and stains on soffits and fascia. Ensure that the drip edges have taken no damage during the storm, as they have an essential role in making the water slide down the roof. Any cracks or tears you see can be considered signs of damage.

What to do next

Hopefully, after you have completed all the steps listed above, there are no signs of severe damage to your roof.

Otherwise, contact your homeowners’ insurance and trusted roofing repairs professional as soon as possible. Before the pros step to the scene, try to safe-proof potential hazards such as broken windows or fallen debris to the best of your power, while keeping yourself safe.

Lastly, if you live in an area that is particularly prone to storms and other forms of severe weather conditions, you might want to consider taking steps to prevent flooding in the future.


About The Author: Kevin has gone through an extensive home renovation with his son, which he has both thoroughly enjoyed, and dreaded every morning. He is now the proud owner of half his dream house (the other half has been waiting for spring). You can read more of Kevin’s work on PlainHelp.
Photo by Tsvetoslav Hristov on Unsplash

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