Roof repair is part of routine home maintenance, but you don’t have to wish you were a rich man to make improvements that could extend the life of your roof. And the timing couldn’t be better – now that we’ve escaped the ever-present dew and rain of Florida’s summer season, the weather is ideal to upgrade your roof. The materials are cooler to handle while still being warm enough to seal correctly – helping avoid trapped moisture that can lead to blistering and other problems. Beyond keeping you safe in the event of a storm, a roof that’s retrofitted to meet hurricane standards can help pay for itself in the way of wind mitigation credits and discounts from your homeowners insurance company.
Here are areas to consider when making your roof hurricane and mitigation inspection ready:
Your roof covering can be the deciding factor as to whether your house qualifies for wind mitigation discounts. If you plan to recover your roof, slate, tile and asphalt shingles are the most common materials used in Florida however, metal panels and wood shingles and shakes are also options for your consideration. Consult with a roofer to determine which material is best for your home.
Tip: To protect roof coverings from both wind and hail damage, look for roof coverings that are both wind and impact rated.
Secondary Water Resistance (SWR)
This coating seals to the roof deck and protects the building if the roof covering fails during intense winds and keeps rain from leaking into the house. SWR provides a layer of waterproofing by sealing the seams in the roof deck.
Tip: Some insurance companies will consider a concrete roof deck a secondary barrier but most only apply the credit for self-adhering modified bitumen (peel and stick roofing), so check with your carrier.
Your roof is connected to the walls of your home, which are secured to the strongest anchor on your property – your home’s foundation. The roof-to-wall connection (also known as continuous load path) keeps the roof on your home by transferring uplift loads on the roof into the supporting walls. The weaker the connection, the higher probability the roof will be pulled off during high winds.
Tip: The four most common connection types (listed from strongest to weakest) are double wraps, single wraps, clips, and toe nails.
Roof Deck Attachment
Poorly attached roof decking is the leading cause of home damage from hurricanes. The roof deck holds the whole house together, providing structural integrity. Most roofs in Florida consist of shingles nailed to plywood sheets. If the plywood sheets are not securely nailed to your roof trusses, additional nails, and/or longer nails, along with a foam adhesive should be added to ensure the plywood is not blown off in a hurricane.
Tip: In order to qualify for mitigation credits, roof decking/sheathing must consist of 1/2" (min) plywood or OSB that is fastened to the trusses/rafters with 8d (min) nails having nail spacing not exceeding 12" on the field trusses/rafters and 6" on the seam trusses/rafters.
Most homes in Florida feature flat, hip, or gable shaped roofs. Compared to other types of roofs, hip roofs generally perform better in extreme winds because they have fewer sharp corners and their construction makes them inherently more structurally stable. Hip roofs are sloped downward on all sides like a pyramid and offer the greatest insurance discounts.
Tip: Steeply pitched roofs (roofs angled to the horizontal at 30 degrees or more) usually perform better in hurricanes than flat roofs because uplift on the windward roof slopes is either reduced or eliminated.
Gable End Bracing
Gable end walls, if not properly braced and anchored, can take a tremendous beating during a hurricane. When the connection between your home’s wall framing and roof framing at the gable ends is weak, the gable end walls can get sucked out by the wind, exposing your home to rain and damaging your insulation, drywall and contents.
Tip: Any gable end that is more than 48 inches should be braced to the 2001 Florida Building Code standard to qualify for an insurance discount.
Roof failures account for the largest amount of loss during a hurricane. Now’s the time to raise your roof (strength) in preparation for the next storm and make improvements that could reduce your insurance premiums.