As spring and summer come to North Georgia, so do strong and sometimes violent thunderstorms. With high winds, blowing debris, and heavy precipitation it’s no surprise that some homes end up with roof damage. There are several things you can do both before and after a storm to protect your roof and your home. And when your roof is damaged, it pays to know where to turn for honest, quality roof repairs.

What to Do About Roof Storm Damage [infographic]

Preparing Your Roof for Storms

Strong storms in North Georgia and the Atlanta Metro Area are inevitable, and sometimes so is roof damage. But there are a number of ways you can prepare for storms that will keep your roof and your pocketbook from suffering in the event of a storm.

1. Prepare your property: One of the most common sources of damage in a storm is not wind or rain, it’s trees. Severe thunderstorms accompanied by high winds can knock down branches or entire trees. And when a tree falls on your roof, the damage can be extensive. If you have trees around your home (and most of us here in Atlanta do), the best thing you can do is to keep them trimmed back and away from your roof. If a tree has limbs overhanging your roof, cut them back. If a tree is leaning over, that’s a sign it may be in poor health or even dead, posing a serious risk of collapse. Make sure that dead or dying trees are removed from your property before they are knocked down by a storm.

Trees are not the only source of damaging debris. If you have any loose debris around your house it can become flying ammunition in high winds. Keep your property clear of cut wood or other loose objects that could become airborne in a storm.

2. Take lots of pictures: If a storm damages your roof, chances are that you will be filing a claim with your insurance company. When you do, the insurance company will send an adjuster to inspect your roof and determine the extent of the covered damage. One of the best ways to ensure you get a fair inspection is to have before and after pictures ready for your adjuster. When the weather is clear, take pictures of your roof and property. Make sure to catch all angles. Any time you have work done on your home or your roof, take new pictures. In the event of a storm, these pictures will document the state of your roof prior to the damage, so you can make sure you’re covered for all of the damage from the storm.

3. Secure your roof: If you live in area that is prone to high winds, there are some things you can do to protect your roof from wind damage. First of all, not all roofs are equal when it comes to wind damage. Most roofing materials will have a wind rating, signifying how much wind speed they can withstand before coming apart. If you live in an area with high winds, pay attention to the wind rating when selecting a material for your roof.

Whatever sort of roof you have, you can make it more secure with some roofing cement. Use a caulking gun to apply roofing cement to any area where the edge of the shingles is exposed. Check around the edge of your roof or anywhere a shingle look a little loose.

If you live in an area that experiences hurricane force winds, you can take steps to secure your roof to the rest of your house. In a hurricane, the extremely high speed winds outside the house create a low pressure zone that can literally suck the roof off a house. One way to prepare for that kind of force is to reinforce the connection of the roof to the house using roofing cement. From inside the attic, use a caulking gun to run a bead of roofing cement along the seams where your rafters meet the roof decking. A contractor can also install special clips that will attach your roof to the walls of your house. Due to the difficulty of installing these clips in some tight areas, it is best to hire a professional.

4. Know your insurance plan: Insurance plans vary greatly. It is good to know what your basic insurance covers as well as what exceptions are built into the policy. The most common problem that homeowners face when making claims for storm damage is that they are underinsured. The best source for this information is your insurance company. You can call and ask to speak with your insurance agent or a representative and they should be able to explain all of the details of your plan.

Carrying more insurance can mean greater premiums, but don’t always chase the lowest premium just to save money. In the event that you need to replace your roof, it is important to have insurance that covers you well enough to pay for the replacement. If you have savings set aside you may be able to get away with lower premiums for lower coverage. But if you will be relying on insurance in an emergency, make sure you have enough to really be helpful.

What to Do After a Storm Damages Your Roof

1. Take more pictures: It’s important to have plenty of pictures of your roof in its undamaged state. But once your roof has been damaged, it’s time to go out and take more pictures. If anything should change, you want to have pictures of the damage as close to when it occurred as possible. However, after a storm is no time to be on your roof. Take as many pictures as you can from the ground, but never attempt to climb the roof.

2. Contact a reliable roofer: Yes, you will need to contact your insurance company. They will send out an adjuster to inspect your roof and determine the extent of the damage. But it’s important to realize that the adjuster is not impartial. They work for the insurance company and would like to find as little covered damage as possible so start with a TrustDALE Certified roofer and let them talk to the insurance company on your behalf. .

To make sure you get the most realistic inspection and that all damage is covered, you will need an advocate. A reliable roofing company can come out to meet your adjuster and make sure you get a full inspection that covers all the damage. They can work with your insurance company to get the full cost covered.

3. Avoid scammers and storm chasers: If your roof has been damaged by a storm, chances are there are other houses in the area with similar damage. This glut of damaged roofs can bring out scammers and storm chasers. Storm chasers are roofers who go from storm to storm looking for roofs to fix. The will show up after a storm and offer to fix your roof. But often they are not local and may not be entirely trustworthy.

While not every roofer who approaches you after a storm will be a scammer, it is good to know what to look for. First of all, never sign anything right after your house has been damaged. Scammers will try to push you into signing contracts without taking the time to look them over and carefully consider them.

Also, never ever give a roofer money up front. Some scammers claim they need money to get started, to buy materials, or to pay for labor. Don’t do it. You many never see that roofer again. Instead, don’t make any payments at least until materials have been delivered.

Finally, if a roofer offers to waive or pay for your insurance deductible, steer clear. While it may seem appealing, this is actually an illegal practice that is only possible by committing insurance fraud. If a roofer is offering it they are clearly crooked.

If your roof has been damaged in a storm, don’t waste your time with scammers and out of town contractors. TrustDALE partners use a TrustDALE Certified Partner. Give them a call and they will walk you through the process of getting your roof fixed, from the first call to your insurance company to the final invoice.

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