Wind & Hail Preparedness – Part 1

Whether you’re building a new house or doing periodic maintenance, upfront planning is key to your home’s ability to dig in its heels against hail damage and windstorms. In particular, your roof, windows, and doors need to withstand the toughest weather that Mother Nature unleashes where you live.

Roof Structures 

During a windstorm, a primary goal is routing the wind’s force from the roof down the walls, then to the ground. If your sheathing and gables aren’t up to the challenge, your roof might end up in the neighbor’s yard.

Sheathing is the wood, plywood, or wafer board nailed to the rafters or trusses of the roof. You can think of it as the part of your house your shingles rest upon. Some sheathing fails simply because nails haven’t been properly affixed to rafters — during installation, the contractor may simply miss hitting the truss with the nail or may inadvertently use nails that are too short to “anchor” the sheathing. You can get a good idea of how your sheathing’s holding up by trekking up to the attic for a thorough visual inspection.

If your attic’s prone to condensation, be sure to check for sheathing that’s delaminating (plywood) or swollen (wafer board). Ask your contractor about secondary moisture barriers that can limit the delaminating and swelling that affect roof sheathing. Take advantage of your contractor’s expertise — find out what sheathing material offers the best wind protection in your area. Paying more now make may sense when weighed against the possible costs of windstorm damage later. Gables are the side walls of the roof. If your gables aren’t properly braced, strong winds can cause them to collapse. The most common method of bracing entails placing 2×4″ wood pieces in an X pattern from the top center of the end gable to the bottom of the brace of the fourth truss and from the bottom center of the end gable to the peak of the roof.

Sheathing’s an important component of a wind-resistant roof, but during hail storms, it’s your home’s shingles that may end up damaged. Impact-resistant asphalt shingles are a popular option against hail damage claims, owing to their ability to weather a hailstorm unharmed. Studies show that impact-resistant shingles can remain undamaged through 1.5-inch diameter hail, even though metal vents exposed to the same hail sustain large dents.