What To Do if Roof Shingles Get Blown Away?

This past spring; virtually all corners of our Province were impacted by severe wind storm events.

Alberta experiences such occurrences every couple of years its seems; but for Southern Ontario, the most recent wind event resulted in over ten million dollars worth of insurance claims, affecting thousand of homeowners as a result of shingle and siding damage.

Suddenly, all types of characters became “roofers”; often charging exorbitant rates to staple underlayment over bare roof spots, or to replace a few shingles.

Literally thousands of service requests were received by our company, with the common question being “what do I do about my missing roof shingles..”

40+ Years of Roofing Experience

For our company, the first priority was to assist our long list of previous customers whose records go back over forty years, and a long list of new clients.That volume of need alone, precluded us from helping any of the insurance companies whom were scrambling to mitigate interior water damage claims.

We learned many things about handling such an enormous catastrophic event. Our hope in writing this article, is that consumers can learn also from this situation. Our team of estimators inspected thousands of roofs post storm. The worst damage was found in the (905),(perimeters of the city), and the north- most regions of Toronto.

One of the first things to understand, is that most of the damage to roof shingles resulted on homes and condominiums that had three tab, builder grade, asphalt shingles. The next group impacted were people whom had laminate fibreglass shingles; but had no underlayment installed beneath the roof shingles, and in some cases those shingles were found to be” high nailed”, or “ blow through” of the nails had occurred.

The Importance of a Shingle’s Wind Rating & Installation

To clarify a few points; it is first important to understand that all roof shingles are manufactured to withstand a particular wind rating. Such testing in Canada must meet ASTM testing standards.

The next thing to understand is that all shingle manufacturers require their roof shingles to be installed with a specified number of roofing nails, and in a designated placement, that allows the particular type of roof shingle to withstand the prescribed wind rating. In rural or high wind areas; “storm nailing” is often recommended because such areas are more prone to high wind circumstances.

The term “high nailing” refers to the nails being secured higher than the required nailing zone noted by the manufacturer. “ Blow through”, refers to the nails being driven too deep into the shingle, effectively seating the nail head below the surface of the roof shingles. The result being that the nail cannot hold the shingle in place under heavy wind load.

Both of these occurrences can result from incorrect pressure settings on the nailing gun. When temperatures change; automatic nail guns need to have their air pressure adjusted, so nails are not driven in too far, or not enough in some cases. It is also important that the roofing nail is driven in straight, and that the nail head is not left in an angular position.

Using automatic roof nail guns has been instrumental in making a shingle installation go much faster, particularly for a generation that does not know how to hand nail as in decades past. Having said this; moving too quickly with an automatic nail gun can result in the nail not be positioned in an ideal way.

Differences Between Roof Shingles

For over sixty years, and still on many new subdivisions today; three tab asphalt shingles have been the popular choice. Why? Because, they are the least expensive roof shingle option.

The design of three tab shingles, having three individual tabs exposed to the weather; with slots in between each shingle tab, make them more vulnerable to wind uplift. Such shingles typically carry the lowest wind ratings.

Characteristic of the past twenty years; laminate fibreglass shingles have taken over the market place , certainly where re-roofing is concerned. Such shingles are typically a more robust design; having no slots in the body of the shingle. Their one piece, or laminated 2 or three piece design (depending on the grade and style); make them a superior choice to defend against wind uplift.

From an installation point of view; how one builds a sloped roof assembly can make all the difference in how a roof performs under extreme wind circumstances. As an example; insisting on the use of a water shedding underlayment material  , before roof shingles are installed ; is a best practice. Although all shingle manufacturers recommend it; not all insist on it, particularly on steeper pitches. Certain roof shingle manufacturers do however.

Common sense dictates that if there is protection beneath the roof shingles, after a windstorm; the home owner may be less vulnerable to interior water damage. Using starter shingles (which have an adhesive sealing strip); installed at rake edges, and lining valley areas; makes the roof more resistant to wind tear-off at these vulnerable locations.

Wind tear off of roof shingles usually occurs on the windward slope; and particularly at the windward eaves area, windward rake edge, windward peak, and the leaward rake edges of a sloped roof.

It is surprising to learn that many do not install starter shingles at these vulnerable roof areas. It may save a few bucks initially; but as the saying goes;” pay me now or pay me later”. The principal in doing so, is that the adhesive on the underlying “starter” shingle bonds to the exposed field shingles, at the rake (exterior open edge) of the roof, or associated valley area.

Related Content: Types of Roof Shingles

Take Aways to Prevent Your Roof’s Shingles From Blowing Away

The take away from the afore-mentioned points discussed are:

  • Select a good quality fibreglass laminate shingle with a superior wind rating
  • Insist on underlayment being installed prior to the roof shingle installation.
  • Insure starter shingles are used in key areas such as open roof edges (rakes), and lining both sides of valleys.
  • Insure that nailing of the roof shingles conforms to manufacturer guidelines.

Step-by-Step Guide: What To Do if Your Roof is Impacted by Wind Storm Damage?

So that represents sound guidance when installing or replacing a sloping roof with roof shingles. But what is the property owner to do once they recognize they are impacted by wind storm damage?

The practical steps are as follows:

  • Contact your insurer/ have your policy information readily available and understand what coverage and deductible you have.
  • Contact a reputable roofing contractor- make sure you obtain proof of WSIB Coverage, and proof of liability insurance ( actually get copies of the certificates as you are required to do such due diligence to mitigate liability in the event of a fall or accident.
  • Have the Contractor complete temporary repairs that will minimize any interior water ingress and therefore lessen the potential of interior damage.
  • If the roof is leaking-protect the floors with a tarp or garbage bags. Place a container(s) to catch water, and poke a hole in the ceiling where the worst leaking, or the biggest volume of water are appearing. ( This will direct water in the ceiling to one spot and therefore lessen damage from spreading across the ceiling).
  • Turn off lights in the affected room-tape off the switches so no one turns them on.
  • Document if possible ,any exterior and interior damaged areas. As most people have phones with cameras this easily achieved. Such photos are helpful to demonstrate what may be needed to repair by contractors and insurers.
  • Don’t Panic- as upsetting and annoying as such an event can be; raising one’s blood pressure does not help. Everyone is in the same boat so exercise patience as those equipped to help work to get your situation under control.
  • When the contractor or insurance designate is on site, get them to determine what a permanent solution may be as the secondary step. That may be replacing a few shingles, a slope or an entire roof depending on the age and condition of the existing roof,
  • Keep an extra bundle or two of your shingles in the garage, as some times the “temporary repair” can end up being the permanent repair if only a few roof shingles are missing. Having the same colour and style on hand saves time for the roofer and can eliminate a second trip at a cost.
  • Communicate through e-mail; when possible – a) to document your actions for insurers and b) because phone lines get jammed up in an emergency situation. Recipients can methodically respond to requests for service instead of wasting valuable time playing telephone tag with distressed customers who are speed dialling everyone. 

Related Content: How to a Shingle Roof

To learn more about handling wind storm damage, or any damage to roof shingles, flat roofs, and siding; contact: www.avenueroadroofing.com