Extreme weather causes significant damage to homes and businesses each year. In fact, according to the Insurance Information Institute, severe thunderstorms, winter storms, flash floods, and cyclone events caused an estimated $56 billion in losses in the United States in 2018. Heavy winds can destroy your roof, while rain, hail, and snow can lead to leaks, cracks, and water damage. Although your home can’t become completely immune to weather-related problems, you can do several things to try to protect your house.

Preventive Measures

Address any roof issues as soon as they are detected. If you have damaged shingles, missing flashing, or other small problems with your roof, the best thing to do is to repair them right away. By waiting, you increase the risk of the problem worsening after a storm, leading to more extensive — and expensive — repairs down the road.

Don't allow debris to accumulate on your roof. While it's harmless when the weather is nice, debris can puncture or tear your roof during inclement weather. Check your roof right after any major storm, and then regularly every couple months to clear away any debris. Also, if you live in an area with regular snowfall, invest in a roof rake to remove snow and ice dams. Ice dams form at the edge of your roof near the gutters. This happens when heat escapes from inside the home and warms the center of your roof, melting the snow. Because the edges of the roof are still frozen, dams of ice form and block the gutters from being able to work properly. Try adding more insulation to your ceiling and attic to reduce heat loss and help prevent this issue.

DIY Inspections

When checking for debris, you can also visually inspect your own roof and look for any missing, damaged, buckled, or bald shingles. Also, check your gutters and downspouts to make sure they are not cracked, blocked, or clogged. Clean them out or have them repaired, if necessary. Malfunctioning or damaged gutters and downspouts will affect the draining of your roof, leading to more damage. Inside your house, you can find other signs of roof problems. For example, wet drywall, bubbling paint, and soft spots on your ceiling are a sign of leaks. Dark spots on your ceiling are typically an indicator of long-term moisture issues, which could mean mold and mildew have developed in that space. Mold is extremely problematic, as it can cause health issues and be difficult and expensive to remove from your home.

Calling in the Pros

If you are not comfortable going up on your roof yourself, you still need to have it checked at least a few times a year. A professional roof inspection will include an overall examination of the exterior of the roof, checking the condition of the shingles, looking for any structural damage, and identifying any leaks. The roofing contractor will also inspect the gutters and downspouts, as well as the chimney, dormers, fascia, skylights, and vents. Additionally, they will go into your attic and look for proper insulation, ventilation issues, and evidence of moisture and mold.

According to National Home Improvement, Inc., roofs with asphalt, composite, or wood shingles need professional inspections every three years, whereas tile roofs generally need inspections every five years. Of course, if your roof is older and degrading quickly, you may want to call in the experts more often. After the inspection, they will make recommendations on a course of action with a written detailed estimate on the possible solutions.

Extensive damage may leave you with a choice on whether to repair or replace your roof. If you are planning on selling your home at some point down the road, keep in mind that a less-than-perfect roof can affect the price you can get for your home. Homes with new, well-maintained roofs sell faster and for higher prices than those with problematic roofs. Very few buyers want to deal with roof issues soon after moving in.

Your home is likely your biggest investment. Therefore, you need to do what you can to protect it. Storms are inevitable, but with proper preparation and maintenance, you can help mitigate damage that can be caused by wind, rain, snow, and other destructive weather.

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