With forecasters predicting another active hurricane season, homeowners -- particularly those in coastal areas are already worried about protecting the roofs over their heads. But
there's still time to prevent at least some of the damage high winds and
heavy rains can cause, according to the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers
"Small steps can be taken before the hurricane season really gets underway to prevent unnecessary repairs and reduce the amount of wind damage to the roofs of homes," says Russell Snyder, executive vice president of ARMA. "The best protection a homeowner can have is to make sure the roof is in sound condition and as weather-tight as possible."
Whether they live in hurricane-prone areas or not, ARMA recommends that homeowners take the following precautions:
- Do preventive maintenance. Hire a roofing contractor or certified home inspector to evaluate your roof and make repairs to flashing, caulking and shingles, if necessary. Most leaks occur where roofs meet sidewalls and around penetrations such as skylights, vent pipes and chimneys. Missing or broken shingles can be individually replaced, and any loose shingle tabs can be re-adhered with an application of asphalt roofing cement.
- Choose roofing products rated for high wind protection. If your home needs a new roof, don't put it off until after the storm season. The cost of replacing a roof is only a fraction of the potential loss that could result to a home's interior, furnishings and possessions. Asphalt shingles are now rated according to wind zone protection. Be sure to use a roofing product that meets or exceeds your area's wind zone recommendations. Contact individual manufacturers for information on newly classified asphalt shingles.
- Keep nature in check. Fallen tree branches or those that scrape against a roof can cause significant damage. Cut back large branches extending over roofs, and have a professional inspect your yard for trees that should be removed altogether. Also, clean out gutters and roof valleys clogged with leaves, branches or litter. Clogs can prevent water from draining properly.
- Check for leaks now. Minor roof leaks that go unnoticed could become a big problem when a major storm hits. To detect leaks, look for old stains and water damage on interior walls and ceilings that indicate a leak occurred. Also, take a flashlight into the attic during the next rainstorm and check for active leaks on the underside of the roof deck and rafters.
- Install hurricane straps and clips. These secure a roof to a home's frame structure. While they are required on new construction, older homes may not be reinforced. Look in your attic for metal bands or plates connecting rafters or roof trusses to the tops of the walls. If none are visible, consult a professional roofing contractor to ensure proper retrofit installation.
"As we have seen over the past couple of years, properly installed and fastened asphalt shingles, in most cases, can withstand the most powerful storms," Snyder adds. "But even though they are proven to be effective and durable in extreme weather conditions, there is no assurance that asphalt shingles -- or any type of roof -- will outlast a hurricane event. By following the ARMA recommendations, homeowners will know they have the best protection they can afford, and will be prepared before a major weather event occurs in order to limit the damage or, hopefully, avoid it completely."