Hurricane-Proofing Your Roof
Having a beautiful home in the tropics means enjoying mild winters, pristine beaches, and plenty of sunshine. But there are dangers you need to be aware of as a homeowner. If you’re spending summer (and even fall) in regions like South Florida or the Bahamas, you’ve no doubt taken all the precautions to prepare yourself and your home for hurricane season. If you’re not taking similar steps with your roof, though, you could be setting yourself up for thousands of dollars in property damage.
Whether this is your first hurricane season or you’re an old pro, we’ve gathered tips that will help you better prepare your roof for the intense wind and rain the tropics are sure to bring.
Inspect Your Roof Annually
The best thing you can do for your roof — even outside of getting it ready for hurricane season — is commit to an annual inspection. If you feel confident inspecting your roof on your own, this can be done by setting aside roughly an hour for a thorough inspection. Make sure you take all necessary safety precautions. Have someone else available to spot you at all times, including when you climb up via a sturdy ladder. Wear shoes with thick, slip-resistant soles. Have tools passed to you, don’t attempt to carry them up as you climb. And always maintain a low center of gravity to reduce the risk of falling.
Once you’re on the roof, check for the obvious things first. Curled shingles or missing tiles are easy to spot. Clear any debris that may be left from previous storms and ensure there’s no moisture built up. Inspect the flashing to make sure it hasn’t pulled away from the edges, and closely examine the perimeter of your roof to check for loose or missing nails, as these could mean it isn’t secured to the rafters as much as it should be.
When you’re done checking the roof itself, it’s time to check the inside. If you have an attic, make your way up there and look for damaged rafters. You especially want to take note of any moisture or mold, as this means there’s a leak in your roof which could be indicative of compromised tiles. If you notice any problems while you’re doing your inspection, it’s time to get some help by searching roofing contractors “near me,” so you can find a talented professional.
Consider Switching to Metal
If your home was built within the last two-to-three decades, it’s possible you’re already enjoying the benefits of a metal roof. Despite their advantages in hurricane-prone areas, however, many homes are still built using asphalt shingle roofs. The typical asphalt roof is resilient, but it doesn’t hold up as well to high sustained winds or even frequent gusts. Tiles can easily be blown off or damaged in a hurricane, damaging the structure of your roof and making it more susceptible to even worse issues like being blown off completely.
Metal roofs, on the other hand, offer protection against winds of up to 140mph. While stronger hurricanes can exceed that, it’s the best guarantee you’re going to get that your roof will stay in one piece. Often literally, as metal roofs are typically made up of far fewer pieces than asphalt shingle roofs, which means there’s less chance of any one piece giving way during a brutal storm. Even outside of hurricane season, metal roofs are one of the most energy-efficient choices and tend to pay for themselves several times over during their long lifetime.
Depending on the contractor as well as the size and shape of your home, a new metal roof will run you anywhere from $15,000-$30,000. This is a massive investment, but if you intend to stay in your home for a long time, you’ll see it pay off in both the superior quality and longevity of the roof.
Invest in Hurricane Clips
If you don’t have the time or money to install a metal roof, there is an alternative: Metal roofing clips specifically designed to help withstand hurricanes. These are a common fixture in tropical-climate homes, but they’re inexpensive to install if your home wasn’t already built with them.
Hurricane clips — also called seismic ties — are designed to help reinforce rafters and trusses so that the structural integrity of your roof stays secure. As you might expect, they can withstand hurricane-force winds and are incredibly long-lasting. With proper maintenance, you should only need to get them installed once.
That said, hurricane clips can be difficult to install. If you feel confident in your DIY abilities, you can install one hundred clips for around $1,000. Otherwise, it’s best to call a professional to help retrofit the clips and ensure your roof stays put.
As you go through your hurricane safety checklist, it’s important to give your roof the attention it deserves. It’s one of the most vulnerable areas of your home during a significant storm, and once it goes, your whole interior is opened up to wind and water damage. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, you owe it to yourself to take these precautions and ensure your home stays safe year-round.