3 Ways to Avoid Wind Damage to Roofs

Stressed about the effect that bad weather could have on your roof? Got questions about your home’s shingle warranty? Not to worry — we have a few suggestions for how to avoid wind damage to roofs. These strategies don’t even require too much effort, which… woohoo! Let’s dive in.

A woman ins sunglasses beside a mountain lake standing as the wind blows through her red-brown hair.
Believe it or not, wind damage to roofs can cause even MORE stress than a bad hair day.

How can you avoid paying tons of money due to unexpected wind damage to your roof? Here are a few key things you can do: 1.) Get shingles with high wind ratings 2.) Invest in a DIY or paid roof maintenance schedule 3.) Ask questions to make sure you understand your roof warranty. 

What Wind Speeds Will Cause Roof Damage?

This wind speed damage breakdown from Superior Inspection Pros provides a rough idea of the amount of damage that different wind speed are likely to cause to a home. Here’s my summary:

  • 0-25 m.p.h. — Nothing to worry about here!
  • 25-50 m.p.h. — You may lose a shingle or two on older/poorly maintained roofs. 
  • 50-75 m.p.h. — More shingles are flying off & the wind is snapping tree limbs.
  • 75-100 m.p.h. — Yikes! Trees are falling now & larger items are taking flight.
  • 100+ m.p.h. — This is when you start to see even solid homes getting destroyed.

Worried that your roof has already been affected by a windstorm? Here’s how to check for damage.

How to Avoid Wind Damage to Roofs

Some of it comes down to raising the threshold for damage. What do I mean by that? Well, think about it like this: is your roof going to survive the world’s worst recorded windstorm of 231 m.p.h? Probably not without a giant metal bubble around it, right? Doesn’t really matter what shingles you have at that point. But will it easily resist 90 m.p.h. winds? That’s a question that probably comes down to materials and upkeep.

Here are a few ways that folks can set themselves up right to avoid paying the price of wind damage to roofs.

1.) Look at Shingle Wind Ratings

Now that you know all about wind speeds, it’s time to look at the speeds a shingle manufacturer is willing to guarantee their shingles for. A shingle’s wind rating will tell you the speed of wind it’s warrantied up to. Even good shingles can vary widely in this regard. 

The GPro crew recently installed some awesome Atlas Pristine shingles on a condo association. These particular ones are warrantied for up to 130 m.p.h. winds. That’s a really solid wind rating. As a point of reference, 130 m.p.h. is approximately double the top speed of a freakin’ cheetah

For further reference when it comes to understanding wind speed, here are the average reported wind speeds in two of the primary counties we service around that condo association’s location:
Franklin County, Ohio: 15.18 m.p.h.
Delaware County, Ohio: 15.01 m.p.h.

So that roof should be in good shape for whatever nature throws at it.

A cheetah running faster than the wind by a baby cheetah.

Commercial vs. Residential Wind Damage

Of course, wind doesn’t discriminate between residential and commercial roofs. A powerful gust from ol’ Mother Nature will just as soon strip old shingles from a courthouse or bank branch as it will from your family cottage. But a high shingle wind rating is a great line of defense against wind damage to roofs. That’s part of why we source our materials from the top shingle manufacturer in the business — they generally rate shingles very high for wind resistance.   

Because different styles of shingles are often a reasonable indicator of wind speed rating, that’s worth considering here. For example, the standard rating for architectural roof shingles is 110 m.p.h. That’s pretty high. But you’ll see many other shingle types warrantied slightly lower. Three-tab tends to be at the 90 m.p.h. level, for instance.

High Wind Ratings

A few manufacturers will warrant certain shingles all the way up to 130 m.p.h. Owens Corning has their TruDefinition® Duration® shingles line, for example. Like the ones we installed on that condo association, the majority of Atlas’ shingles are actually rated up to 130 m.p.h. 

Some shingles in Atlas’ line also have their HP42″ technology. Among these is one product rated for up to 150 m.p.h. — you might think of this as a cherry red Ferrari in the world of roofing shingles. (Now doesn’t that rating just make your fear of wind damage to roofs flutter away, as though on a soft, smooth, totally non-destructive breeze…?) 

Learn more about that particular product and other architectural shingles here

What Instrument is Used to Measure Wind Speed?

If you’re curious how the wind authorities (whoever they may be) manage to measure the speed of wind, they do so by employing a relatively simple instrument called an anemometer.

A grassy field with an anemometer, the instrument used to measure wind speed.
An anemometer helps scientists calculate the speed of the wind.

National Geographic explains that there are a few different models of the instrument. In the most frequently used model, (pictured above) a series of cups catch the wind and spin. The instrument then calculates of number of rotations and averages them out over a reasonably long period of time to account for bursts of wind and dormant periods. Meteorologists and physicists can then use the results for their work.

And with wind speed properly calculated… huzzah! We get shingle wind ratings. There are probably a few more steps in there, but you get the idea.

2.) Schedule Roof Maintenance

We say it all the time when it comes to home exteriors: a little investment today could save you a LOT in bills tomorrow. From sealing up exposed nailheads yourself to investing in an inexpensive monthly maintenance subscription, following a basic maintenance schedule of some sort can make a big difference for homeowners down the road.

Because who knows when wild weather will hit? It’s wise to stay on top of these things instead of trying to play catch up later.

Some roofing contractors will offer a commercial roof maintenance option too, which very well may be a wise business expense to avoid paying a lot more for wind damage to a roof or two when you really don’t have the extra funds.

Looking for a DIY approach? Check out our 5 tips for winter roof maintenance before the cold sets in this year! 

3.) Research Your Roof Shingle Warranty

Dodging the big bills associated with major wind damage to roofs means you might want to know a little bit about your roof warranty. There’s no worse feeling than thinking you’re covered during a catastrophic event only to find out that the coverage wasn’t what you thought.

What Does “Limited Lifetime Warranty” Mean on Shingles?

The terminology for roof warranties used to be on a scale of how many decades they were good for. So you had 20, 30, 40, and 50-year ratings. Today, however, the standard terminology of roof warranties has shifted a bit. You’re more likely to see the word “lifetime” in a 2021 roofing contract. Always make sure you know what “lifetime” truly means to the manufacturer. Cornerstone Roofing & Gutter puts it like this:

“Even though they are all now lifetime, most have a good, better or best version. The difference is usually differentiated by weight and thickness, with the heavier, thicker shingles having a higher wind rating as well. In most cases limited lifetime applies only to residential properties, commercial properties keep the previous ratings (*i.e. the decade-based warranty scale).”
*parenthetical content mine

For instance, here’s some information that Atlas provides about their Atlas lifetime warranties. Find the equivalent info for any manufacturer providing your warranty and feel free to discuss it with them and/or your contractors.

The takeaway for shingle warranties is this: ask questions and make sure you understand what your warranty covers ahead of time.

Pro tip: Working with a roofing company that has licensed insurance adjusters who will go to bat for you with the insurance companies never hurts either!

Questions About Wind Damage to Roofs?

Let us know and we’ll do our best to answer them! You can always find us on Facebook or reach out through our contact page.

Till then, stay safe out there!

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