Every year storms are responsible for damage caused to people’s properties and in particular, roofs. In this article we have provided you with advice and tips on how to protect your roof and minimise any damage the high winds and driving rain may cause.
After the floods, storms and high winds are the second worst weather phenomenon to cause damage to home across the UK. They are characterised by very powerful winds over a large area (from 60 to 80 miles per hour, sometimes more), often accompanied by heavy rainfall and thunderstorms. When the roof has a few weaknesses and is exposed to these kinds of conditions the consequences of a storm are often catastrophic. Although buildings are built to withstand this punishment, they do over time deteriorate and are left vulnerable. Especially recently, when we have seen an increase in the frequency and intensity of storms across the country. Be it down to climate change or just natural weather events, the last few weeks have shown that even more vigilance is needed.
What are the risks?
Roofing materials: a chimney, a branch, a tree or even tiles or gutters falling can cause serious damage.
Water infiltration: even if the roof resists the onslaught of wind, beware of the rain. The impact of raindrops associated with the thrust of the wind may cause infiltration under a roof past the waterproof membrane, also able to degrade the insulation and inside of your home.
How to prevent them?
Observe your roof from the outside: take the time to regularly assess it (especially after strong winds) to identify possible damage.
When a new house loses tiles, except in extreme cases, it should be covered under warranty and the manufacturer should repair it. If your roof is too high it is possible to use binoculars to get a closer view. When looking pay close attention to the fasteners and seals which run along the edges of the roof.
Any broken tiles spotted must be replaced as quickly as possible, often the most damage caused comes from the entry of water, rather than to the roof itself. For zinc plates, check they are secure and also check the flashing at the level of the leading edge. If that edge is well protected, there should be no risk of it lifting up and allowing water to enter.
Gutters, antennas, satellite dishes and any decorative pieces (e.g. weather vanes) must be in good condition and firmly secured. If extremely high winds are forecasted it may even be worth removing the latter two of these for the duration of the storm.
Make sure you clean the moss on the tiles and call a tradesperson to sweep and check the condition of the chimney. Check your trees: maintain the trees in your garden by cutting the diseased branches and those that may touch the roof. When possible, avoid the presence of large towering trees near the house.
Inspect the attic: go at least once a year in the attic and systematically after a storm to track down traces of water infiltration, wood dust (sign of presence of xylophagous insects), timber deformation, or even, in some cases, the displacement of insulation or the passage of rodents or birds. It is also a good idea to check the felt under the roof to make sure it is secure and intact.
Who to contact for the work?
If you need some work to be done, contact a professional roofer or builder who has good experience, is properly insured and well aware of the latest regulations. In more exposed areas such as on high ground or in seaside locations it is also recomended to go above and beyond that standard practices with roofing work, by securing tiles tighter and making sure waterproofing is more thorough.
During a roof’s renovation, a roof screen can be used to help protect your home from the elements while work is being carried out. It also temporarily protects the attic from moisture, if the cover is damaged. The cost of the work will be much less and more rapidly implemented than if you wait for the next gust of wind.
5 frequent questions on roofing
Q1. Can an industrial frame like a small farmhouse resist as much as a traditional frame?
A1. Theoretically, Yes. But everything depends on the timber frame and installation design. Hence the importance of choosing the right tradesperson who specialises in this area.
Q2. Are inner courtyards and all open shelters easy prey for the wind?
A2. In most cases, no. The air that rushes through these areas and under open roofs performs a strong upward pressure on the roof. However, if it is well designed and maintained the risks are minor.
Q3. I have a few loose and/or broken tiles, is this urgent to fix?
A3. Yes, the wind will blow through the gaps and will start to raise or break other tiles around them, water ingress may also occur.
Q4. The tiles appear to be sound, but the timber supports beneath show some weaknesses, is this a problem?
A4. Yes, due to the umbrella effect the whole frame can be lifted off if it has become weakly attached to the structure below. You should get this inspected as soon as possible.
Q5. Do I risk more damage to my roof if I install photovoltaic panels?
A5. No, a quality photovoltaic panel installed correctly by an approved installer should cause no more problems than a conventional roof.
Written by Nathalie