Texas Living

7 Steps to Keeping Your Roof in Perfect Shape

By Kristy Alpert 7.6.17

Texas consistently tops national charts with the highest amount of hail claims, so it’s no wonder that roof damage is also one of the most popular insurance claims among Texas homeowners.

Every form of roofing material, from asphalt to wood shingles to clay tile, eventually suffers under the relentless Texas sun and legendary hail, ice, and tornadoes. But with these seven steps, you can stay ahead of roof damage, whether you need to diagnose, upkeep, or upgrade your roof, or call in the professionals.

1. Notice Warning Signs

The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety identifies five warning signs that your roof needs repairs.

  • Wear and tear: Look for loose, broken, or missing shingle tabs as well as buckling or curling shingles.
  • Roof penetrations: Scan for gaps, holes, or signs of missing sealant.
  • Off-ridge or ridge vents: Make sure they remain properly attached.
  • Leaks: Water stains on roof decking, including around chimneys, vents, and pipes, indicate leaks. Stains on the ceiling inside the home also reveal trouble.
  • Daylight through roof boards: This is never a good thing.

2. Upkeep Roof Maintenance

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety recommends homeowners in Texas take a few simple steps toward maintaining their roofs year-round to avoid costly damage.

  • Remove tree branches that hang over the roof or trim them back to prevent them from rubbing or falling on the roof.
  • Remove leaves and debris that may have accumulated over the seasons to prevent decay and mold.
  • Check the interior of your attic for leaks, cracks, or any signs of water seepage.
  • Clean gutters of debris to remove any blockages, or install gutter screens or covers.

3. Perform Roof Upgrades

If your roof needs more serious help, perhaps after a storm or just years of wear and tear, you or a professional should perform the following improvements.

  • Look for rotting or warped wood and replace any unsafe materials.
  • Re-nail the roof deck with 8d common nails (or larger) every 6 inches, adding additional fasteners as needed, to improve wind-resistance.
  • Brace gables and anchor outlookers with metal brackets or straps to improve their adherence to the frame.
  • Install flashing at all roof penetrations (pipes, vents, chimney intersections, etc.) to prevent leakage.
  • Seal the roof deck against water intrusion with ASTM 1970-compliant, self-adhering, polymer-modified bitumen flashing tape or similar.
  • Apply an ASTM-approved roof cover, keeping in mind that high-wind-rated shingles may have a higher price tag but often prove their worth when storms hit.

4. Invest in Impact-Resistant Shingles

Most roofs consist of one of two basic types of shingles: three-tab or architectural. Architectural shingles are heavier, last longer, and can be upgraded to Class 4 — the highest rating a shingle can receive in a simulated hail test. 

Class 4 shingles — whether asphalt, metal, wood, or another material — have better wind resistance and last longer. While the upfront cost of a roof with impact-resistant shingles is usually slightly higher than other types, you can often get a property insurance discount for it. 

5. Contract Annual Roof Inspections

It’s best to have your roof checked by a professional at least once a year and after severe storms. These guidelines can help.

  • Use the National Roofing Contractors Association’s tool to find an accredited contractor.
  • Get more than one estimate, in writing, that includes total cost, work to be completed, project schedule, guarantees, payment terms, material and installation warranties, etc.
  • Make sure the contractor is well-established with a federal tax ID number and permanent address.
  • Ask to see a certificate of insurance to ensure they are covered for liability and worker’s compensation.
  • Contact your local Better Business Bureau to check for complaints filed against the contractor.
  • Never sign a contract with blanks, as fraudulent contractors often enter unacceptable terms later on.
  • Never pay in full until all the work has been completed and a certificate of completion is in your hands.
  • Review and send all the documents to your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent.

6. Stay on Crime Watch

Texas tops the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s list of heavy equipment theft. Everything from copper wiring to heavy equipment attracts thieves, who steal an estimated $400 million of these types of materials each year. Your roofing materials could be at risk as well.

  • Ask your contractor to make you aware of when materials will be dropped off.
  • Keep outside lights on any materials left overnight.
  • Allow items and equipment to be stored in locked barns, outbuildings, and garages during off-hours.

7. Consult Your Insurance Agent

“In our part of the state, we have enough hailstorms that most roofs never last too long,” says Kenny Tanner, a Texas Farm Bureau Insurance agency manager in Haskell County. That means his office sees a lot of roof-damage claims. His advice:

“The bottom line is that you should call your insurance agent,” Tanner says. “We’re here to help.”

Make sure your home is prepared for storms with the right water drainage too.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2017 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance