What to Do When a Storm Damages Your Roof
The Great British weather can be unpredictable at the best of times, as recent months have proven. It’s vital to keep an eye on forecasts as a homeowner however, as storm damage can affect properties anywhere in a multitude of ways. As our climate becomes seemingly less temperate over time, flash flooding, storms and gale force winds are becoming an ever more common occurrence. But what can you do if your property has been damaged by a storm?
This guide will give you an overview of the types of damage that storms can cause to a home, particularly the roof, and how to deal with them. Many of the issues you may face can be tackled alone, but sometimes you might have no choice but to call in a professional.
Rules to Remember
There are a few rules to remember when dealing with the aftermath of a storm. With all the added stress and extra work that comes with it, it can be easy to lose your head. But you’ll do well to remember the following:
- Don’t panic – This can be difficult, but it’s important to keep a level head.
- Wait for the storm to blow over – it’s not worth risking your safety or the safety of your family while the storm is still raging.
- Be careful – It’s absolutely vital never to put yourself or anyone else in danger, no matter how urgent the damage to your home may seem.
First: Investigating the Damage
Once the storm has blown over, and you’re sure everyone is safe, it’s time to take a look at what may have been damaged. A single, severe storm can cause many different kinds of damage to a property. Heavy winds, rain, and hail feature in most storms in the UK and can each cause different types of damage to a property.
It's no secret that the rain is a part of life here in the UK. In fact, rain damage is one of the most common causes of damage to a roof in a storm or otherwise. Rain damage can even prove the most devastating long-term. More often than not, severe water damage from rain is due to repeated exposure over a long time period, as the more vulnerable inner portion of your roof space becomes more and more exposed as the outer protective layers erode away.
The first potential danger caused by rain is mould, which can be found in any damp environment in your property. This means that as many of us know, rooms such as the kitchen or particularly the bathroom are at the greatest risk of mould build-up. Your roof, due to its level of exposure will spend most of its lifetime being damp to some degree, and this can lead to the growth of mould, moss or algae – all of which can present significant problems both structurally and to your health.
Rotting is a significant structural problem that’s often related to mould build-up, but the two don’t always come together. Rot can especially affect the timber inside your roof space, posing a very serious structural risk if left unchecked over a period of time. Like rain and water ingress, rot is a gradual, creeping threat. It takes time for it to become severe enough to cause damage, but once the damage is done it could be extremely expensive and troublesome to fix.
The main culprit behind rotting timbers and mould growth is often roof leaks, so locating and fixing them as soon as they appear is vital. It can be difficult to find and fix a roof leak, as the leak can be very small yet highly damaging. If you’re experiencing a roof leak due to heavy rain, be sure to read our blog on how to find and fix it. If you’re still struggling to uncover the source of the leak yourself, it’s wise to contact a professional before things get out of hand. Although it could be expensive, it will be nothing compared to potential repair costs in future.
Another common feature of a storm that can wreak havoc and severely damage a roof is the wind. The predominant threat from the wind in a storm is roof tiles or shingles coming loose or falling away. While long-term this will not be nearly as expensive as many of the effects of rain damage, falling tiles can be incredibly dangerous, which is why it’s so important to stay inside as the storm rages.
Other damage to your roof or property due to wind is often less obvious but can still be seriously detrimental. Keep on the lookout for fallen debris such as tree branches or even tiles from neighbouring houses. These might have fallen onto your roof and caused damage. You should always inspect your roof tiles as well as your guttering after a storm to ensure nothing has been damaged and your guttering system is free of obstructions.
Hail and sleet are less common than the wind and rain, but they possess far more damage potential. Hailstones can be one of the greatest dangers your roof will ever face in its lifetime. Solid projectiles falling from the sky and striking your roof tiles at great speed, as you might imagine, isn’t an ideal scenario. But what issues can hail cause specifically?
The most obvious forms of hail damage are holes and dents in your tiles, which present clear immediate issues along with potential future dangers such as water ingress and mould growth. The impact areas can be extremely subtle scratches or dents, or can be very obvious craters, tears, and gashes. There may be as few as one or two marks, or many more just on the one roof, such is the unpredictability of hail. Give your roof a thorough inspection after a hailstorm to spot the damage left behind.
Can I Fix It Myself?
Now comes the big question, “Is this something I can handle by myself?”
In most cases, storm damage will be minor enough to handle yourself. It could be a few dislodged tiles, a number of hail dents or a blocked guttering system. These issues are easy to fix with some basic DIY knowledge, although if you don’t feel comfortable doing the work you can always consult a professional.
The first step is to carry out a thorough inspection of your roof, ideally both inside and outside. Are there any loose or missing tiles? Is there any visible damage? Has a leak formed in your roof space? Whatever the issue you might have encountered, it’s important to sort it as soon as you can.
Of course, if the damage is severe, it may be impossible to carry this work out yourself. Depending on what exactly has happened, you may need to have a contingency plan for your family to live away from the home for a time while the work is being done.
It’s all well and good to equip yourself with all the necessary knowledge about storm damage to roofs, what to look out for, and how to fix them – but another big question is “can I afford it?”. Paying for roof damage is one of the biggest expenses for homeowners after a storm, and can take a significant amount of time.
Most building insurance will cover the cost of repairing storm damage to your roof, as well as other parts of your property that may have been harmed. Insurance can differ greatly depending on provider, so be sure to do your research before taking out a plan or indeed making a claim. It’s always wise to be aware of what your insurance does and doesn’t cover, and you should make a point to document any and all damage you encounter to make this process run more smoothly.
Insurance isn’t the only way to slash the cost of restoring your home in the event of a storm. It may also be possible to make use of the warranties that may have come along with some of the products on your roof. Tiles, shingles, guttering, insulation and more tend to have guarantees attached to them depending on the brand. If they fail before their intended lifespan you may be entitled to a refund or replacement.
Of course, warranties and guarantees can vary massively, so it’s important to check. As well as this, not all of them will cover weather damage, but it’s always worth getting in touch with the manufacturer just in case. Especially if your damaged goods were relatively new and were years within their existing warranty.
These are just a few of the steps you may need to take to return your property to its former glory in the aftermath of a major storm. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to estimate just how much time, effort and money may go into its repair. However, the best course of action is always to approach the situation in a calm, confident manner – and as well organised as possible.
Be sure to read some of our other blog posts that may help you with a few repair or replacement projects you may face. We have guides to building a whole new roof or simply tiling an existing one, and much, much, more. Good luck!