How can I inspect my roof for hurricane damage?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

When you see blue sky as you look up at the ceiling, you don’t need to do an inspection to know your roof requires repair. But storm damage sometimes does not show itself on the inside of your home immediately or the symptoms are subtle and, if you wait until you do see unmistakable staining and wetness, the water damage to the interior may cost more to repair than the roof. 

    So we suggest taking a slow walk around the exterior of your home after a storm, looking at all sides of the roof from the ground. If you are comfortable on a ladder, also check it out from the edge of the roof placed at several locations around the perimeter. 

    But we do not recommend walking on the roof. It can be dangerous at any time; but, after a storm, loose shingles and loose granules on the surface of the shingles make walking around a roof slippery and more hazardous than usual.

    Here’s what to look for:

•• First, search carefully for any wet spots or discoloration at the ceiling and interior wall surfaces, then look outside at the area directly above those locations on the roof for any damage. Although water sometimes migrates away from the point of entry in the roof surface, most of the time it comes directly down. 

•• If there is a roof vent or gable end vent above the staining, what you have found below them is likely a one-time event due to driven rain. Roof and gable vents are designed to be rainproof, but when the water is being blown horizontally at high pressure, some of it will get through. This does not require repair unless there is more than a minor amount of wetness below the vent, which indicates there may be damage to the vent or its flashing.

•• Scan the roof surfaces for damaged or loose shingles, like in the photos below. As shingles age, they become brittle and snap off more easily in high winds, and the wind can pull a whole strip of poorly secured shingles off. Do you see any pieces of shingle on the ground?


    Look for any areas where the roof surface buckles down and for any damage around it. The damage may be a hole in the roof, as shown below, or impact pock marks. 

 •• Check carefully at the bottom of any roof-to-wall intersections for evidence that water has got behind the flashing.


•• Is there any sag in the first row of shingles? This could indicate leakage at the drip flashing due to loose tab adhesion at the edge, or water backing up under the shingles from an overflowing gutter, like in the photos below. Although the wind has not lifted the shingles, storm water has flowed under them.

 •• Look up at the soffit at inside corners of the roof for staining, which indicates leakage of the valley pan flashing around the edge.

 Although all of these notes are about shingle roofs, the same principles apply to metal, tile, and built-up roofs. Metal roof panels start coming loose at the bottom edges, also at ridge roll and gable end flashings. Tiles fracture and built-up roofs form blisters where water gets under them.

    If you see any of these signs of damage, call a professional roofer for further evaluation and a repair estimate. Also, see our blog posts Which trees are most likely to fall over on your house in a hurricane? and What can I do during a hurricane to reduce the possiblity of roof damage?

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about HURRICANE RESISTANCE:

 Should I buy a house that has hurricane flood damage?

 Should I buy a house with hurricane flood damage that has been repaired?

• What can I do right now to prepare my house for a hurricane? 

 Why did so many concrete block homes collapse in Mexico Beach during Hurricane Michael? 

 How can I tell if the concrete block walls of my house have vertical steel and concrete reinforcement?

 How much hurricane wind speed can a mobile home survive?  

• What year were mobile homes required to become more storm resistant? 

• Can I do my own wind mitigation inspection?  

• What is the wind mitigation inspection for homeowner's insurance? 

 What is the best emergency back-up generator for the power outage after a storm? 

 Can I run a window air conditioner on a portable generator? 

 What are the pros and cons of concrete block versus wood frame construction? 

 Is a metal roof for a mobile home approved for HUD Wind Zone 3? 

 Why do so many more sinkholes open up after a hurricane?  

What can I do during a hurricane to reduce the possiblity of roof damage?

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •  

  To learn more about roofs and attics, see these other blog posts:

Why is my roof sheathing sagging between the trusses?

Why is granule loss a problem for an asphalt shingle roof? 

What are the mistakes to avoid when doing attic improvements?

What causes roof shingles to curl up at corners?  

What causes shingles to buckle along a line on the roof?

What causes leaks at a fake roof dormer? 

What causes a sagging roof ridge line?

What causes bubble-like blisters in a built-up and gravel roof?  

Why does it cost so much more to replace a steep roof than a low slope roof? 

What is "ponding" on a flat roof?

Is an attic required to have a light by the building code? 

How can I inspect my roof for hurricane damage?

Why is premature curl of roof shingles a problem?

How can I tell if a roof has more than one layer of shingles? 

What are the common problems with attic insulation? 

What is the life expectancy of an asbestos cement shingle roof? 

What's the average lifespan of a roof?

Why is it a mistake to replace a roof and not replace its flashings? 

Why is there no attic access hatch in the house?

What is the building code requirement for an attic access hatch, scuttle, or door? 

Does a roof with multiple layers of shingles last longer?

What can I do to prevent roof leaks?

Are roof trusses better than roof rafters (stick framing)? 

Why is a popped nail in a shingle roof a problem? How do I fix it?

What are the most common problems with wood roof trusses?

What causes a lump or dip in the roof? 

If my roof is not leaking, why does it need to be replaced?

How can I be sure my roofing contractor got a permit?

How many layers of roofing are allowed on a home? 

What are the dark lines running parallel to shingles on my roof?

Can metal roofing be used on a low slope/pitch roof? 

How can I make my roof last longer?  

What are the warning signs of a dangerous attic pull-down ladder?

How can I find out the age of a roof? 

Should I buy a house that needs a new roof?

Should I buy a house with an old roof? 

What are those metal boxes on the roof?

What does "lack of tab adhesion" in an asphalt shingle roof mean?

Why do roof edges start leaking?

Why do my dormer windows leak? 

Do home inspectors go on the roof? Do they get in the attic?

Should I put gutters on the house? 

How much of a roof truss can I cut out to make a storage platform in the attic? 

What's the difference between an "architectural" and a regular shingle roof? 

What does a home inspector look for when examining a roof? 

Do stains on the ceiling mean the roof is leaking?

How can I tell if the house needs a new roof?  

 Why does my homeowner's insurance want a roof inspection?

What are the hazards to avoid when going into an attic? 

     Visit our ROOF AND ATTIC page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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