Strong storms bring a slew of heavy rains, hail, flooding, and strong winds. Sometimes those high winds are strong enough to cause damage to your roof. Whether it be from the wind alone or falling debris, it’s important to know when to check for damage to your roof after a storm. Here are a few things to know about roof wind damage if it happens to you.
How Strong Does Wind Have to Be to Damage My Roof?
The National Weather Service of Green Bay, Wisconsin shares some tips on telling the difference between a tornado, a funnel cloud, and a wall cloud. It also shows how to know the speed at which the wind was traveling, based on the damage that occurs. The varying speeds of wind associated with their potential damage are listed on their quicksheet as follows:
- 25-30 mph: Large branches move; whistling heard in wires.
- 30-40 mph: Whole trees move.
- 40-45 mph: Twigs and small branches break; walking impeded.
- 45-55 mph: Larger branches and weak limbs may break; slight structural damage occurs.
- 55-65 mph: Moderate structural and tree damage occurred.
- 65+ mph: Heavy to severe structural and tree damage occurred.
As you can see, winds of less than 45 mph may cause a little bit of a mess, but hardly any severe damage will occur. Though you might find your patio umbrella in the neighbor’s yard the next day, it’s safe to say, that despite the wind howling outside, you should be safe from any legitimate landscape or property damage.
As you hit that 45 mph mark and beyond, however, you could expect to see at least some damage to your landscaping, if not your home or other property. Starting at 45 mph, the wind itself can lift loose shingles, and even cause weak trees or limbs to break off and cause damage to your home.
When winds surpass 55 mph, you can expect a lot more property damage such as downed or uprooted trees, and some more severe structural damage due to winds tearing off shingles or debris hitting your house.
As wind speeds climb to 65 and above, homeowners start to see catastrophic damage in their area. Wind gusts of 75 mph or more will bring about widespread tree damage, flipped motor homes, and other structures, as well as damage to commercial buildings as well as residential.
Roof damage from wind at any of these speeds will likely call for a professional inspection, filing an insurance claim and roofing contractors supplying numerous repairs or even full roof replacement.
Summer storms in the Midwest can bring heavy rains, crashing thunder, strong winds, and hail. Tornado touchdowns occur more often and are more dangerous in the southernmost Midwest states like Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas — but they DO happen in Minnesota and Wisconsin as well. Minnesota had 54 confirmed tornadoes, and Wisconsin had 32, in 2019. But, a storm does not have to produce a tornado to be damaging, as these stats show us.
What Damage Can Occur From Strong Winds?
First things first — inspecting your property on your own should only be done if it is safe to do so. Check for any downed or exposed wires before climbing up on a ladder or inspecting your property further. If the storms swept through a large area, affecting many homeowners, call your local utility company for more information on outages or dangerous power lines. Be mindful of any debris or loose tree branches that could create an unsafe environment as you walk the property. If you suspect damage but don’t feel safe inspecting your roof, please call a professional roofing contractor, and they can do it for you.
Now that we’ve covered safety — if you feel like taking a look at your house before you file a claim with your homeowner’s insurance, here are some things to look for as you assess damage to your roof and home’s exterior after high winds.
Probably the easiest damage to look for on your own is signs of a leaky roof. This is because you can search for this damage on the inside of your house. A leaky roof will show itself by way of wet spots or dripping water on the ceiling. Check your top floor ceilings or attic floor, if you can, for any wet spots. This would indicate that the wind or some flying debris has done some damage to your shingles or roof.
Missing, Lifting, or Curling Shingles
There can be different levels of roof damage depending on how strong the wind was. So, as you walk around your property, take a look up towards the roof, or get on a ladder if safe to do so, and take a peek at your shingles. You’ll want to look for missing, lifting, or curling shingles. Missing shingles are pretty obvious. Those shingles were blown right off your roof because they were too loose, or the wind was just that strong. Yikes!
Curling shingles are not as obvious to spot as missing shingles, obviously but are usually around the edges, corners, or near the flashing. Shingles that are curling are no longer protecting your roof from leaks and must be replaced. Lastly, lifting shingles are going to need a professional inspection to spot. This is where the shingles have loosened near the nails, which in turn has likely broken the sealants between them and can cause leaks. All three of these must be replaced immediately to ensure your home stays protected against leaks and further damage.
Spotting damage to your gutters should be pretty noticeable. You can quickly identify if any gutters have loosened, dented, or fallen off. But, there is a way the gutters can tell you about any accrued roof damage as well. What you find in your gutters can be a sign of roof damage.
If you can see in your gutters, safely of course, and you see numerous granules from your shingles in the gutter, you likely have damage. If high winds and storm damage have broken off and washed away your roofing granules, your roof is now susceptible to leaks and more damage, especially if another storm comes through. You should call a professional roofing contractor right away.
The flashing around your home’s exterior, especially around the chimney, is a sweet spot for wind damage. The flashing around the chimney is a common stress point for high winds since it can easily lift the flashing at the corners or ends around the chimney. Look for any cracking or separation, this can be a sign of damage and will need immediate repair to avoid any water leaks or damage.
What is the Best Roof for High Winds?
There are tons and tons of different roofing materials — some are better for fire-resistance, some are better for heat conduction, and some withstand water and high winds better than others. This is not to say if you don’t have one of these roofs, you are guaranteed to receive damage during high winds. But across the industry, we consistently hear of a few that are highly recommended in areas prone to severe weather, and especially hurricanes.
If you want a roof that is going to withstand high winds the best, you will want to consider asphalt shingles, concrete or slate tiles, a metal roof, or wood shakes. We go more in-depth on these and other materials in our Roofing Materials guide. But here are a few details of how these roofs stand up again high winds.
Asphalt shingles come highly recommended for areas prone to high winds, Tornadoes, and Hurricanes. FEMA has crafted unique installation methods for installing asphalt shingles that best ensure they hold up. You can find those instructions here. Some premium quality asphalt shingles, like those from GAF, can actually withstand winds up to 110 mph.
Roofing tiles, specifically concrete, are designed to stand the test of time, and can often far outlive a homeowner’s time in their home. The seamless design of roofing tiles helps make them quite impervious to leaks and damage. Some concrete tiles have even been tested to perform against winds as high as 125 mph — winds that would easily tear off any average residential roofing shingle.
Metal roofing comes in a few different versions that are specifically designed to shed water and allow wind to roll right over it. Whether you install a water-shedding or a standing seam metal roof, both can continually protect your home from damage and water leaks throughout severe weather.
What are the Steps to Take After Wind Damage?
To recap, here are a few things you, as a homeowner, should do in the event of wind damage to your roof or property.
- Check around your property for any visible or immediate damage.
- Safely pick up debris and any tree branches around your property.
- Look inside for any signs of water leakage like drips, or discoloring on your walls or ceiling.
- Take photos of any damage you find.
- Contact us for a FREE inspection and to get an estimate.
- File an insurance claim.
Check out our storm damage page for more information regarding insurance claims, inspections, and how to spot damage. We will work with you to ensure you get your repairs or replacement done quickly and efficiently. Remember always to stay safe, and call a professional right away.