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Roof wind damage

Here in Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming, we can get some strong winds. Especially in the Fall and Spring. And believe it or not, high winds can damage a roof.

So, what does wind roof damage look like? How do you protect your roof from roof-damaging winds? Is this type of roof damage covered by your insurance? Below are answers to these questions and more.

What is roof wind damage?

It's when the wind is strong enough to peel sections of your entire roofing material off, exposing the roof deck, or when the seal is broken between the roofing material, such as shingles.

What does a wind damaged roof look like?

Here are a few photos during a high wind day in Fort Collins, Colorado. As you can see, some shingles have been completely torn off. Others are the process of being torn off. The high wind even torn off sheet metal from a roof.

How to tell if your roof has wind damage

Sometimes roof wind damage is obvious, such as when the roof material is missing. If asphalt shingles aren't properly fastened, strong winds can easily pull them up, and possibly remove them. The same goes for metal shingles, metal sheets, tile and shake. Although, even if the roof is properly fastened, a strong enough wind can cause uplift or suction and loosen or pull the roofing material right off.

Sometimes roof wind damage is not obvious, however. Sometimes the wind breaks the seal between the roofing material and flashing, but leaves the material in place. This is rather common. From the ground, you can't tell that the seal beneath the shingles, or between the shingles and flashing is broken. This type of damage isn't an emergency, but those shingles should be nailed back down so they aren't torn off in the next high wind day.

How do you prevent wind damage?

As they say, the best defense, is a good offense, and that starts with a high wind resistant roofing material. Given that, even the best wind resistant roof, if installed incorrectly, can be damaged by wind. So, it's important that your roof also be installed correctly.

What roofing materials withstand high winds?

High wind resistant asphalt shingles

Shingles such as Owens Corning's Duration series have exceptional wind resistance thanks to their SureNail technology. When installed properly, high wind resistant shingles such as these are rated up to 130mph winds.

Slate

Slate is an excellent wind resistant roofing material primarily due to its weight. On average, depending upon the dimensions and thickness of the specific slate tiles, weigh between 5 and 11 lbs per square foot.

Metal

When installed correctly, a metal roof is an excellent wind resistant material. The metal sheets are often large, so there are fewer opportunities for wind to get under the material. The sheets of a standing seem metal roof are tightly locked together. Exposed fastener metal roofing sheets are screwed down where the sheets overlap. Screws are a superior fastener to nails.

Note: Wind-driven debris, such as tree branches or lawn furniture, if large enough or driven by enough force, can puncture any of the above high wind resistant roofing materials.

How to fix a wind damaged roof

If the material hasn't been damaged, it simply needs to be secured back down. If the roofing material has been damaged, it should be replaced. Don't forget, start at the bottom of the affected area and work your way up, so the top roofing material lays on top of the bottom one. When in doubt or unsure, contact your local roofing professional.

What wind speeds cause roof damage?

Winds 45-60mph can loosen old or inferior shingles. Maybe even remove them.
Winds 60mph or stronger can cause damage to your roof, including tearing off shingles.
Your basic, least expensive asphalt roofing shingles are designed to protect your roof against winds up to 60mph.

wind uplift creating suction and pulling roofing material off of roof

wind uplift creating suction and pulling roofing material off

How can wind remove shingles, tile, or metal roofing? By getting underneath it if the roofing material has space between it and the roof deck, if it's already loose, or by uplift. Uplift is when wind hits the side your house and continues over the top. The space created between the moving wind and the roof creates suction. This suction pulls weak roof materials off.

Summary

High winds are nothing to take lightly. They can cause serious problems. If you can, take a look at your roof while the wind is blowing and see if you spot any roofing material being lifted-up by the wind, and make a note of it. Once the wind has died-down, be sure to get that loose roofing material fixed, either by yourself, or a roofing professional, before more costly damage is done.