Summer is right around the corner, and with it comes hurricane season. While Metro Atlanta and the surrounding region are typically too far inland to see actual hurricanes, we don't go unscathed. Hurricanes to the south and the east reach Atlanta as powerful tropical storms with driving rain and punishing wind. Besides the effects of distant hurricanes, summer in Atlanta usually brings plenty of home-grown storms that can include damaging winds. So, as the summer storm season sets in, TrustDALE has some handy tips to protect your roof from summer storms.

Protect Your Roof From Summer Storms [infographic]

Inspect Your Roof

While storms can create new damage to your roof, a roof that already has some minor damage is most at risk. Heavy rains and howling winds can turn small problems on your roof into much bigger problems. When the wind and rain are strong enough, a damaged shingle or small hole can turn into a full-blown leak or worse. That's why one of the best things you can do to protect your roof this summer is to start with a full roof inspection from a qualified roofer. Contact a TrustDALE certified roofer in your area to schedule your roof inspection today.

Here at TrusDALE, we don't just help you find reliable businesses to work with. We also help consumers deal with crooked companies who refuse to make it right. In our work, we've seen plenty of roofing scams. One scam involves roofers who offer a free inspection. The offer seems like a low-risk favor to accept. But once the scammers are on your roof, they may actually rip up shingles or use a tool to create damage on your roof that wasn't there before. Then, they take pictures of the damage and offer to fix your roof for a hefty price. As we often say at TrustDALE, if an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is. While a reliable roofer can usually offer a free inspection, never let someone onto your roof unless you are sure you know who you're dealing with.

Besides a professional inspection, there are some telltale signs of roof damage that you can spot yourself without ever climbing onto your roof. First, from the ground, scan your roof for any discoloration. Patches or spots on your roof that look lighter or darker than the rest of the roof are a warning sign. They may indicate loose, damaged, or missing shingles.

If you have an asphalt shingle roof, you should also be on the lookout for shingles that are shedding their protective granules. The asphalt in asphalt shingles is susceptible to damage from sunlight. To prevent that, the shingles are covered in a layer of granules similar to gravel, which protect it from the sun's UV rays. If the granules start to come off, shingle damage is not far behind. You can spot granule damage by looking for granules at the bottom of your gutter downspouts. When it rains, loose granules can be washed into your gutters and out the downspouts, where they collect. If you notice them at the base of yours downspout, it's time to call a roofer for a closer look.

Trim your Trees

Falling branches are a common source of roof damage in a violent summer storm. In the worst case, an entire tree may fall onto your roof, causing catastrophic damage. But even if you don't have a downed tree, large branches can damage shingles and leave you with urgent roof repairs.

One of the best ways to avoid damage to your roof from summer storms is to cut back large tree branches that hang too close to your roof. A branch that overhangs your roof can cause damage in several ways. First, if the branch falls on your roof during a storm, it can cause direct damage. However, even if the branch doesn't break, it can shed lots of leaves or pines onto your roof, where they trap moisture. Moisture is the enemy of roofs. When the surface of your roof remains wet for an extended period, it can grow mold and rot that damage the shingles. Another way that a hanging branch can cause damage in a storm is if it hangs low enough to scrape against the roof. If a branch is blown into your roof by the wind, it can scrape along the shingles and remove many of the protective granules on your asphalt shingles. As we mentioned above, an asphalt shingle without its protective granules is exposed to damage from the sun's UV rays.

The worst damage a tree can cause in a storm is when the whole tree comes crashing down on your roof. But there are ways to minimize your risk. First, look for trees that are in danger of collapse. A dead or diseased tree is already weak, and it is more likely to fall in a storm. Look for trees that have bare branches where leaves don't grow. If a tree is not growing leaves at the same rate as the trees around it, it may be diseased. Also, look for any leaning trees. A leaning tree is a telltale sign of a tree with weak roots that is ready to fall in a storm.

Hail Damage

Hail can occur with any thunderstorm and is most common with severe thunderstorms with high winds and extremely large cloud columns. Hail forms when liquid water or rain is carried upward by the powerful updraft in a storm cell. As the water reaches extremely cold regions of the atmosphere, it freezes into hail. When the hail becomes too heavy for the updraft, it falls. In some cases, the hail does not fall all the way to the ground, but is carried back up by the updraft. In that case, the hailstone encounters more liquid water, which is carried with it, and which freezes as another layer to create an even larger hailstone. When the hail finally falls to the ground, the damage can range from minimal for small hailstones to severe for larger hail.

There is little you can do proactively to prevent damage from hail. However, you can identify hail damage quickly and repair the damage to avoid it becoming worse. Immediately after a storm, your roof is wet and slippery. Never climb onto a wet roof. Instead, look for signs of hail damage closer to the ground. If you notice damage or denting to decks, patio furniture, or vehicles, there is a good chance that your roof was damaged, too. As we've described above, you can also look for loose granules from shingles that have washed down the gutters and out the downspouts.

After a severe storm, and especially after a hail event, you may get anywhere from a few to over a dozen solicitations from roofers who want to repair hail damage. These are opportunistic roofers, sometimes referred to as storm chasers. Legitimate roofers often send out information about treating hail damage after a storm, but it can be hard to tell who is reliable and who is out to scam you. And not every scam is the same.

The worst scams are roofers who take money upfront and never complete a job or even begin. You can avoid these scammers by never paying upfront. Another scam is from roofers who do a quick but low-quality repair job, leaving you with new problems just a few years down the line. In some cases, roofers who contact you after a storm may not have the proper licenses and insurance. Some roofers may even create damage on your roof where none existed, to convince you to hire them. Finally, some roofers may pressure you into unfair contracts by telling you they can offer a great deal, but only if you sign right now. Never sign a contract you have not read. If a roofer discourages you from reviewing the contract with your partner or another member of your household, that's a red flag, too.

To avoid scams, your best option is always to contact a TrustDALE certified roofer for all your roofing repairs.

Dale's New Book:
Don't Get Scammed: Get Smart!