Preparing Your Homes Roof for Hurricane Season

Preparing Your Homes Roof for Hurricane Season

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a hurricane-proof roof. However, there are still plenty of things you can do to protect your roof, and therefore the rest of your home, from hurricanes and the damage they can do. Research published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that hurricane winds are getting stronger, and hurricanes will begin to affect more people.

While any given year might have more hurricanes than average or fewer, the overall trend is for hurricanes to cause more damage. That means it is more important than ever to do what you can to protect your home and ensure a hurricane-proof roof, especially during hurricane season.

Below, we provide information on how roofs handle hurricanes and practical steps you can take to reinforce your roof or otherwise reduce your risk from a serious storm.

How Hurricanes Impact Roofing

While some roofs survive major hurricanes intact, other roofs suffer severe damage. Some roof trusses even blow off the home entirely. Much of the difference in roof performance during a hurricane has to do with the construction of the building. The major factors that determine whether or not your roof will blow off your home in a hurricane include:

  • Where the home is situated.
  • The strength of the structural connections in the building.
  • The shape of the roof.
  • Other architectural choices.

Hip roofs survive hurricanes better than gable roofs. The flat face of the gable catches wind, while the angle of a hip roof can better withstand the same pressure. In addition, low-slope roofs inherently experience higher wind loads and therefore perform worse in hurricanes than steep-slope roofs, according to research conducted by civil engineers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Specifically, this research found that roofs at a 7:12 pitch perform the best in high wind conditions.

Roofs that are structurally sound and well-attached to the rest of the building may still suffer in hurricanes. The extreme wind forces often blow water at a structure horizontally. Instead of moving down from the sky, the water is directed across, hitting the roof from the side.

This phenomenon is called wind-driven rain, and when it occurs during hurricanes, it can involve large amounts of water directed at your home for hours. It is a tough challenge to design materials and roofing systems that can resist this force. Any small gap in flashing, missing shingles or holes in the roof may let water into the home.

The multi-layered approach to risk reduction

Any piece of roofing material that catches the wind may be ripped off, creating a chain reaction that can strip the roof of shingles or underlayment. Then, the exposed decking can soak, which can create major leaks.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there are multiple layers of risk reduction you can take to protect your home. Following building codes is the first step. Following construction best practices is the second. Obtaining homeowners insurance policies and purchasing additional insurance to cover hurricanes and flooding when your homeowner’s insurance does not cover these perils, is third.

With these three elements of risk reduction, you should have excellent protection during a hurricane. However, FEMA recognizes that there will always be residual risk during extreme events.

Disclaimer: The following information is provided for general information purposes only. It is incumbent upon the homeowner to follow all building codes and safety codes as well as public advisories from safety and emergency response authorities. The information provided in this article is supplemental to advice from your roofer, local building code authorities and your local laws. IKO disclaims all liability in respect to the information provided.

What Can You Do To Protect Your Roof in a Hurricane?

Protecting your roof in a hurricane is all about preparation. Unless you intend to do a major rebuild of your home, you can’t control the design of your home or your roof. Instead, factors for roof performance that are within your control are about ensuring the roof you have will do the best job it can under the circumstances.

1. Ask for a Preseason Roof Inspection

Professional roofers are your roof’s first line of defense from hurricanes. Before hurricane season begins (this varies by year, but it is roughly May 15 for the Pacific and June 1 for the Atlantic), you should have a roofer inspect your roof. They may spot potential problems, from bent flashing to missing shingles, which could make your roof more vulnerable to extreme winds. One of the most common issues is damage to the edge of the roof, including the fascia and soffit boards. Roofers should pay special attention to this area of the roof and ensure all is secure before hurricane season.

Routine maintenance, such as cleaning gutters, downspouts and valleys, as well as trimming nearby tree limbs, can also help protect your roof from damage during storms.

While you have your trusted roofer inspecting your roof, ensure that you have their updated contact information available in case of an emergency roof issue after the storm.

2. Choose Performance Products

Not all roofing materials and features are made equal. Choose roofing products that offer limited wind warranties up to 130 mph (210 km/h). No shingle is impervious, but IKO has specifically designed performance shingles to better handle various environmental challenges, including high winds.

Some shingle manufacturers, including IKO, suggest different installation practices for high-wind conditions. We strongly suggest you consider a high-wind application if you live in a high-wind area. The chart below shows FEMA’s assessment of the high-wind areas in the United States.

3. Follow Building Codes

Typically, you will only have to get your roof up to code with any changes to the building codes when you get a roof replacement or a repair of an area affected by the building code change. However, sometimes adopting the improvements laid out in the building codes before hurricane season can help offer you additional protection.

For example, as of January 1, 2021, the Florida Building Code has changed several roof requirements, including adding a secondary water barrier and additional fastening. Changes to rules for soffits were also implemented to reduce the impact of high winds on this key area of the roof. These new regulations do not negate other building code requirements for your roof.

Ask your roofer if it is in your best interest to update your roof to meet any new building code requirements before a hurricane.

4. Add or Inspect Hurricane Ties

Hurricane ties strengthen the connection between the roof truss and the home’s structural elements, preventing roof blow-off in high winds. Consider adding hurricane ties. If your home already has hurricane ties, your roofer should inspect them for corrosion and other damage during the preseason inspection.

5. Consider the FORTIFIED™ Program

The FORTIFIED ™ program is a voluntary program run by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) with the goal of improving roof and home performance in hurricanes. By bringing your home up to the program’s standards, you can improve your roof’s performance in weather events.

The program has requirements for roofing and other parts of the home beyond what most building codes require. These enhancements can help a roof and home withstand even Category 3 hurricanes. The program’s requirements are based on research from the IBHS. Standards include sealing the roof deck, using a thicker drip edge, and ensuring that starter shingles are fully adhered to the roof deck.

As research has demonstrated, the most critical factor in shingle performance is the strength of the seal between the shingles. These measures are intended to bolster this connection. You can ask a professional roofer to ensure your roof meets FORTIFIED™ standards.

6. Address Roof Repairs, Including Leaking Roof Vents

Before a storm, it is smart to get your roofer to complete any roof repairs that you have been putting off. Even small issues with the roof can lead to more serious damage during a hurricane.

Roof vents are especially important to inspect and repair. They are crucial components of a roofing system, but they can become points of concern during hurricanes, particularly if they leak. Choose hurricane-rated roof vents and have a reputable roofer install them to prevent leaks and hurricane-related vulnerabilities.

7. Protect Skylights

Skylights are particularly vulnerable during hurricanes and any high-wind conditions. Manufacturers equip modern skylights with tempered glass or plastic, which means they do not leave dangerous shards behind if broken during a hurricane. Skylights are typically designed to resist wind, but they can still suffer damage in high winds and hurricanes.

Have your roofers replace your current skylights with hurricane-resistant skylights. They are not hurricane proof, but they do have much higher wind-resistance properties than some other options on the market.

If this is not an option, you may be able to cover your skylight with a metal cage, plywood or a specifically designed skylight shutter. If the installation is temporary, your roofers will need to repair any shingles surrounding the skylight that they had to puncture with nails to secure the skylight cover.

8. Secure Roof Documentation

Take some “before” pictures of your roof for insurance and limited warranty claims. Take overall pictures from multiple angles and some close-ups as well. Your roofer can help by taking photos of points of interest, like chimneys and skylights, from on top of the roof. Save the photos to your cloud storage to ensure that you don’t lose them if something happens to your phone.

It may also be useful to scan and save digital copies of any limited warranties your roof may be under, including those from your manufacturer and the roofers who installed the roof.

9. Store Potential Projectiles

Many of the loose objects you have on your property may become projectiles in hurricane conditions. These can damage your roof, other parts of your home or your neighbor’s property. Before a hurricane, bring in lawn furniture, trampolines, children’s toys and anything else that you typically store unsecured outside.

10. Verify Your Home Insurance

In the United States, most homeowner’s insurance policies will not cover flooding and may not cover other hurricane damage. Before you choose a policy, or at least before a hurricane, confirm with your insurance provider that you also have hurricane and flood protection policies in addition to your homeowner’s insurance policy.

You can purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in the United States. In Canada, you may find it offered by any insurance broker as an umbrella policy on top of homeowner’s insurance or separate to homeowner’s insurance.  Also, ensure that your coverage is large enough to provide for the whole cost of your roof replacement in the event a hurricane destroys it.

It may be worthwhile to buy an umbrella insurance policy to increase the dollar amount of coverage so that your policies will cover more of your roof replacement cost.

11. Buy a Tarp

When roofers deal with roof damage after a hurricane, they typically install a tarp over the damaged sections of the roof to prevent further water damage. They can only address the repairs properly after storm conditions and precipitation have passed. If you have a tarp on hand, your roofers may use it instead of bringing their own. While having a tarp is useful for minor storms too, it is an especially good idea if a hurricane is approaching, as roofers may run out of tarps if enough roofs in your area have been damaged.

Though owning your own tarp is a wise precaution, attempting to install it yourself, especially during a storm, is dangerous. Homeowners should allow professionals to tarp their roof. Do not walk on your roof, during a storm or otherwise, or you may fall and suffer serious injury.

Protecting Your Home’s Roof From Hurricanes

When considering what steps you should take to protect your home from hurricanes, it is always wise to speak with your trusted roofer, who may have specific advice for your roof. In the unfortunate event a hurricane damages your roof, it can help you to know you have financing options for roof replacement and repair that can ensure you get the damage fixed quickly. Plan ahead and be prepared this hurricane season.

From Start to Finish: 10 Tips for Planning a Roof Replacement that Meets Your Timeline

From Start to Finish: 10 Tips for Planning a Roof Replacement that Meets Your Timeline

Need to replace your roof but not sure what the best time is or how to make it fit your schedule?

You’re not alone. From weather conditions to contractor availability to everything else that life throws at you, determining the best time to replace your roof can feel a little bit like putting a puzzle together (unless, of course, the reason you need to replace your roof is due to emergency circumstances).

If your roof incurred damage from a storm or you have a significant leak in your home, then the best time to do it is as soon as possible. But, if you are planning a full home remodeling project, or you intend to replace your roof to increase the value of your home prior to sale, you will have a bit more flexibility.

Having your roof replaced can feel quite disruptive as a homeowner due to the noise and time commitment, but there are a few ways to prepare yourself to make it feel less like a burden and more like an exciting project to take on.

Here’s how to plan a roof replacement that fits your timeline.

1. Planning a full home renovation?

Consider the timeline of the entire project before booking your roofers. If you are building an addition to your home, or are in the midst of a full home remodel, the best time to replace your roof will depend on the overall scope of the project (as long as none of the various projects are urgent).

For example, if you plan to replace most of the exterior of your home (i.e., doors, windows, siding and your roof), then it is ideal to start with your roof. This will help ensure that your new windows or siding are not damaged while your roof is being replaced.

Whenever you are planning a series of home improvement projects, it is best to speak to a contractor or roofer before confirming start dates.

2. Schedule roof replacement when you can relocate pets and kids temporarily.

When you are trying to choose the best time to replace your roof, ensuring that you have the resources to get your pets and small children away from the home will be beneficial. If your pets exhibit fear during a thunderstorm, they are more than likely going to be quite scared during a roof replacement.

There is no way for a roofing crew to avoid the inevitable hammering and walking on the roof of your home, so you may want to make arrangements before your roof replacement for them to stay with a friend or sitter.

3. Choose a time to replace your roof that will not disrupt your work schedule.

Choosing a convenient time to replace your roof depends on several factors: weather conditions, roofer availability, and your own schedule.

But, just like small pets and children will be disturbed by the noise when you replace your roof, you likely will be, too, particularly if you work from home! If this is the case, weekends might be an ideal time for a roof replacement (if your roofer works on weekends), as you will be able to leave the home or set work aside for the time that the project is completed.

Additional scheduling factors to take into consideration include whether you want to be close by to oversee the project and potentially leave space for unexpected delays.

4. Consider the best time to replace your roof based on weather conditions.

Summer and fall are some of the best times to replace your roof for a reason: Lower humidity and moderate temperatures are ideal for shingle installation. Summer is a particularly ideal time to replace your roof because products like IKO shingles with FastLock sealant are activated by the sun’s heat.

Replacing your roof in cold-weather conditions is not ideal for the materials or your roofers, but it can be easier to find a reputable contractor since it is a slow season. With that said, your roofer will need to take additional health and safety precautions, and the project will likely take longer than it would in fair weather conditions. Cold weather roof replacement also requires additional installation steps, which is likely to result in higher labor costs.

5. Make a plan for your vehicles.

Your driveway is more or less occupied while contractors replace your roof. Your roofer will likely have a large dumpster delivered to your home a day or two before the beginning of the project, which they will use to dispose of the current roofing materials they remove.

It is not advisable to use your driveway while your roof is being replaced. Reputable contractors will use a magnet to pick up any stray roofing nails from your driveway and gardens at the end of each day of roofing but to be safe, it’s best to find somewhere else to park your cars for the extent of the project.

6. Set time aside to take down and store any valuables before your roof replacement.

You might be surprised by the level of vibrations that can come with the process of having your roof replaced!

Ensure any fragile interior objects like mementos or photos on the wall are put away in a safe place before the roofers’ arrival. While they are not guaranteed to knock things off the walls or shelves, it is an extra safety precaution that is worth setting aside some extra time for!

Read our article about preparing for a roof replacement for more tips.

7. Plan for any necessary permits or approvals ahead of your roof replacement to avoid delays.

Depending on where you live and the scope of your roof replacement project, there is a possibility that you may require permits before the contractors can get started. Most contractors will navigate the permit process on your behalf, but it is still important to take into consideration when choosing a time for your roof replacement, particularly if you are planning multiple home renovation or home improvement projects.

Replacing a roof with the same type of roofing materials, repairing missing or damaged shingles and eavestrough replacement often does not require any permits, but we recommend checking your local zoning regulations and bylaws, as well as any Homeowner Association (HOA) rules apply to you and your home. But, if you are adding a second story to your home, changing the slope or pitch of your roof, or, say, installing a skylight, these are circumstances that may require a permit. Be sure to speak to your contractor ahead of time and plan your roof replacement accordingly.

8.Regular communication with the roofing company

Communication is key in any project. By staying in communication with your roofing company before the project starts and staying informed throughout a roof replacement, you will be less likely to come up against any surprises. If your contractor expects any project delays due to setbacks, like changing weather conditions or material delays, maintaining a steady stream of communication will ensure that you are prepared to adjust your plans accordingly (i.e., leave the dog at the sitter for an extra few days, let your employer know that you need an extra day off, etc.).

9. Consider the type of roofing material you want to use and its availability.

Material shortages and delays have become quite common in any trade industry following the COVID-19 pandemic. While most reputable roofing companies plan their projects and timelines accordingly, if you hope to replace your roof with a trending, custom, or particularly unique roofing material, be sure to let your roofer know well ahead of time.

10.Regular communication with the roofing company

As a homeowner, you can try to plan your life around your roof replacement as carefully as possible with the information you have, but one of the best places to start is by speaking to your contractor before even booking the project.

They are the experts and will be able to guide you on best practices, material availability, their schedules, and the ideal weather conditions in your particular location.

Seven Things Homeowners Need to Know Before Filing a Roof Insurance Claim

Seven Things Homeowners Need to Know Before Filing a Roof Insurance Claim

Roof Insurance Claim: Key Information for Homeowners

Most homeowners in North America have homeowners’ insurance. Unfortunately, not many homeowners truly understand their policy, what it covers and how it can help them if they need to make a roof insurance claim.

We sat down with IKO ROOFPRO Jen Silver, the founder and CEO of Roofing Utah, one of the fastest-growing roofing companies North America, to gain some insight into the roof insurance claim process and what homeowners need to know before they contact their insurance agent and file a roof insurance claim. In addition to sitting at the helm of Roofing Utah, Jen is a public speaker, consultant and expert in roof insurance claim work who speaks publicly across the nation on the topic.

So, she shared with us seven things that every homeowner should know about their insurance policy prior to filing a roof insurance claim and what resources are available to them to learn this essential information.

Whether you wonder what kind of roof damage is covered by your insurance company, if your homeowners insurance will cover your roof leak or how often insurance will pay for a new roof, there are a few questions you should answer about your homeowners insurance prior to filing a roof insurance claim.

Thinking About Filing a Roof Insurance Claim? Here’s What You Need To Know First.

1. Do You Have Replacement Cost Value (RCV) or Actual Cash Value (ACV) Coverage?

If you are in the process of purchasing a homeowners insurance policy or considering making a roof insurance claim, be sure to know whether you are getting RCV or ACV coverage.

RCV will cover you for the entire cost of a roof replacement, minus your deductible. So, if you were in the middle of a hailstorm and got a quote for $15,000 to replace your roof, and you have a $1,000 deductible, your insurance company will cover the remaining $14,000 to replace your roof upon approval of your quote.

ACV, on the other hand, will only pay out the value of your current roof if you make a roof insurance claim. So, if your roof was already 10 years old and has depreciated by $10,000, your insurance policy will only cover $5,000, minus your deductible, which means you as a homeowner would be responsible for covering the remaining $11,000.

The reason why this is so important to know prior to filing a roof insurance claim, Jen explains, is that if for whatever reason you are unable to cover the gap in insurance coverage, but your roof is approved, and you don’t replace it, your insurance company could drop you as a client.

2. What Is Your Deductible?

When you make any sort of roofing-related claim on your homeowners’ insurance, the deductible is the amount that you must pay out before your insurance company will cover the remaining cost. Depending on your homeowners’ insurance policy, this deductible may be a set amount or a percentage of the claim.

So, say you have an RCV policy, and you make a roof insurance claim because you need to replace your roof due to storm damage beyond repair and you have a $1,000 deductible. if the total cost to replace your roof was $10,000, you would pay $1,000, and your insurance company would cover the remaining $9,000.

Deductibles apply in almost all cases of property loss or damage, including most roof insurance claims. If the cost of the claim is below your deductible (e.g., you try to claim a relatively simple $500 repair), you are responsible for covering that cost in most cases. In which case, you would likely be better off covering those repairs out of pocket to avoid negatively impacting your premium moving forward.

Your deductible can be waived under certain circumstances, most often When a claim is over a certain dollar amount; but this depends on your insurance policy.

Always choose a deductible that you know you will comfortably be able to afford. If you opt to have a higher deductible (e.g., $5,000), you will need to be able to pay that amount out of pocket in the event of a claim

3. What Is Your Insurance Policy Limit?

Insurance policies rarely offer unlimited coverage. Rather, they set maximum amounts that they are willing to pay out for different types of insurance claims.

When you purchase homeowners’ insurance, you have the option to raise or lower these limits based on the coverage you need.

Choosing insurance limits is really a balancing act between ensuring you have enough coverage for any sort of significant loss (otherwise, what’s the point of having insurance?), yet avoiding such high limits that cause you to pay way more for your premiums than necessary.

4. What Applicable Exclusions Do You Have?

The general understanding of insurance of any kind is that there needs to be enough people with a shared need for protection for insurance to work properly and keep premiums at reasonable rates.

This means that it is not possible for insurance companies to cover every single type of loss that could ever occur, and this is where the term “exclusions” applies.

Most insurance policies across North America will contain a similar set of exclusions, but it is important to read the fine print of your policy to understand what is and is not covered by your home insurance.

Some of the more common exclusions include losses that are the result of wear and tear or a homeowner’s failure to maintain their property. Old roofs are one of them. So, even if your roof was damaged in a storm, you could come up against challenges in making a claim if your roof is significantly aged.

Additional exclusions may include intentional, fraudulent or criminal losses; failure to reasonably protect your home; high-risk activities; and catastrophic losses that would exceed an insurance company’s resources (for example, war, terrorism, unexpected natural disasters like floods, tornados, earthquakes, or other “acts of God”).

5. How Does Your Policy’s Loss of Settlement Provision Work?

This brings us back to that ACV vs. RCV policy-type question. ACV insurance policies are often calculated at approximately 20 to 25% less than a replacement cost policy, as well as figuring depreciation into the claim.

So, again, if your roof is 20-years-old and has depreciated significantly in value, your insurance company will cover significantly less of the cost to replace it, even if the claim is related to a natural event, like hail or a windstorm, at the time of the claim.

Keep in mind that when considering roof insurance claims, depreciation rates tend to be higher than, say, your kitchen appliances due to exposure to the elements.

6. What Is the Statute of Limitations on Your Claim?

A statute of limitations is a specific period during which you, the insurance policyholder, can file a claim for damages. This varies from state to state in the United States and from province to province in Canada.

Your insurance policy may provide the time period within which a claim may be made, which typically is as short as one year.

If the policy does not provide such a limitation, the claim will be subject to the statute of limitations, which can be anywhere from two to four years, and in rare cases, up to six.

In some jurisdictions, the statute of limitations period may override the period stated in the policy. It is important to review your policy and consult with legal counsel in your jurisdiction to make sure you make a timely claim.

If you are certain that you intend to file a roof insurance claim, be sure to do so within the statute of limitations in your geographical area.

7. Do You Have Ordinance and Law Coverage?

Ordinance and law coverage would cover the cost to rebuild your home or undergo significant renovations and updates to bring it up to current code in the event of a major covered loss.

When considering roof insurance claims, what might seem like a simple repair when making a claim could, in some cases, require a full roof replacement if your roof is not up to the current building code.

Ordinance and law coverage would ensure that your policy covers the cost to replace your roof in compliance with the most up-to-date code and laws.

Many homeowners are unaware that this type of coverage can be included in homeowners’ insurance, and it is not included in every policy type. To determine whether you need this type of coverage, it is best to speak to an insurance specialist.

Understanding Your Homeowners Insurance Policy Prior To Filing a Roof Insurance Claim: Whom Can You Talk To?

Homeowners insurance policies can be extremely overwhelming to understand, but there are experts out there who can help you interpret your policy prior to filing your roof insurance claim.

With that said, not just anyone is able to discuss, explain or interpret your policy for you. Rather, you will want to reach out to an insurance agent, attorney, or public adjustor.

“Once a homeowner has all of this information, then they will be in a better position to make an educated decision on whether they want to file a claim or not,” Jen concluded. And, if you ever notice roof damage of any kind, the best first move is always to reach out to a ROOFPRO roofing contractor, as they are a wealth of information and may be able to guide you through the claims process.