The intense heat of late summer is a good reminder of what lurks ahead… storm season. While hurricane season officially runs June 1 to November 30, the peak season is from mid-August to late October. Each year the number and severity of storms vary; however, storms spawning from daily thermal heating and tropical disturbances, if not hurricanes, are certain. Preparing for storms requires proactive thought and effort. One critical area of focus in storm preparation is a home’s roof. In this article, we explore roof integrity, including what every homeowner needs to know to prevent a property claim due to a damaged or leaking roof.
In order to understand roof integrity, it is important to acknowledge the integral role a roof plays in the structure of a home. The roof is the first line of defense against the elements and protects all of the home’s structure. No other part of a home is able to withstand precipitation, wind, and heat in the same manner as a roof. Moisture and water are a home’s biggest enemy. If roof damage occurs without repair, then many bad things can happen to the rest of the home, including roof leaks and a likely property claim. The home will quickly become susceptible to rotting and damage can occur in siding, joists, drywall, foundation and other structurally critical parts of a home. In extreme cases, if a roof fails, then it puts negative pressure on the rest of a home, which could lead to the complete failure of the home’s support structure.
Many options exist for roof materials. Some of the most popular materials include asphalt, clay and concrete, metal, slate, wood shingle, and shake, or synthetic. In order to pick the best material, several factors need consideration. Is this material heavy or will it require special framing? Is the material available in a color or design that complements your home? Is the material compliant with local fire codes? What is the cost, life span, and warranty for this product? The following question, however, is likely the most important. Does this material offer good performance in extreme weather conditions common in my area? If the answer is yes to all of the other questions, yet you end up with a leaking roof and property claims due to severe weather, then it was not a good choice. The answers to these questions provide a good starting point for determining the best material for use in your roof.
Roofs and the Elements
Roofs protect the home from harm associated with precipitation, wind, and heat. Hail can damage or even dislodge shingles. This then allows precipitation and wind to penetrate the surface of the home with no protection. Heavy wind can curl, lift, tear, and even remove shingles by breaking the seal that bonds them together. This leaves the roof susceptible to further damage and roof leaks.
Another significant risk to a roof is heat. UV rays from the sun dry out the roof materials, causing asphalt shingles to buckle and possibly split. Heat associated with summer temperatures worsens the damaging effect of UV rays. If attic ventilation is not sufficient, heat will build up, raising the temperature inside the home leading to condensation problems. Roofs can reach high temperatures during the day and then quickly drop after sunset. This rapid change causes the roof materials to expand and contract, which weakens structural integrity over time.
Solar Panel Roofs
Some homeowners install solar panels to take advantage of the heat and open surfaces associated with roofs. Solar panels extend the life of a roof, by helping to divert some of the heat away from the roof and onto the panels. It also helps protect from the elements. Installing solar panels, however, could damage a roof if not installed properly or installed on an old or damaged roof. It is important that only a licensed, qualified professional contractor install your solar panels. Below is an image showing how solar panels help power electricity in a home.
Tesla is the trendy brand in solar panel roof options. As the below chart suggests, however, Tesla solar panels are an expensive option. These can make sense if a homeowner needs to replace a roof, particularly if replacing with a slate roof. However, if simply upgrading a healthy existing roof, Tesla solar panels can be cost-prohibitive.
In order to ensure a roof is ready for storm season, homeowners should inspect their roofs on a regular basis. Inspecting a roof can be daunting due to height and slope; however, tools such as drones now exist to make this process much easier. The typical roof lasts approximately 20 years, although this varies depending on the material and region. Homeowners should carefully inspect their roof for any of the following conditions.
Cracked caulk or rust spots on flashing.
Shingles that are buckling, curling, or blistering.
Missing or broken shingles.
Cracked and worn rubber boots around vent pipes.
Missing or damaged chimney cap.
Masses of moss and lichen.
If the homeowner finds any of these conditions, then a professional roof contractor needs to come and further investigate to determine necessary corrective actions. Just because these conditions exist does not mean a homeowner needs a new roof, however, depending on the life stage of the roof and the severity of these conditions, a new roof could be the answer. New roofs vary significantly based on the size of the home and the type of roof. A new asphalt shingles roof on a 2,000 sq. ft. single-story ranch house can range in price from $8,500 to $16,500 fully installed. Across the US, a typical architectural asphalt shingle roof will cost between $3.50 and $5.50 per sq. ft. to install. This size roof typically takes between one to four days to install.
When a homeowner or contractor discovers damage, it is necessary to open a property insurance claim. A property claim adjuster will come out and review the damage. An adjuster looks for damage similar to a standard homeowner roof inspection. The difference is an adjuster looks at the entire house to determine the total loss picture. The adjuster looks for items such as excessive granule loss, missing and/or damaged shingles, dented vent housings, damaged gutters, related collateral damage around the home, and any signs of leaks. Adjusters may also consider recent storms in the area as well as damage to other homes in the neighborhood.
The integrity of a roof remains a critical factor is protecting a home and ensuring it is ready for storm season. With afternoon storms a daily fixture in many areas, a damaged roof is certain to lead to a leaky roof, which will lead to a property claim. Adjusters are ready and willing to help homeowners with claims related to roof leaks; however, by inspecting a roof on a regular basis, a homeowner can maximize the integrity of the roof and minimize the potential for damage to their home.