The Roofing Resource Blog

High Winds & Shingle Roofs: Damages, Prevention & the Insurance Claims

Wed, Apr 22, 2015 @ 07:30 AM | Exterior Pro Roofing

Most modern shingle roofs are rated to withstand 90 mile-per-hour winds, although there are roofing products available for hurricane and tornado-prone areas that can withstand winds up to 150 MPH. Yet, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that light structural damage – including damage to shingle roofing – starts at wind speeds of 50 MPH.

While there are many reasons why a shingle roof can sustain damage at lower wind speeds, the two most common reasons are an aging roof and shoddy installation. Let’s look at the types of wind damage most commonly found with shingle roofs, how you can prevent the damage, and how to handle the insurance claim and repairs once the damage is done.


Common Types of Damage 

The most commonly reported types of wind damage to shingle roofing are shingles that have lifted and those that either shatter or pull completely free of the roof. Broken, missing and lifted shingles are easy to spot and they require immediate attention since this type of damage makes your roof more prone to leaks.


However, there is another type of damage that isn’t so easy to see. During high winds, your shingles may lift and then settle back down once the storm is over. When you look at the roof from the ground, it looks fine. But you could be facing two problems: 

  • The nails holding your shingles may have loosened, which lessens the roof’s ability to remain watertight and its ability to resist high winds in the future.
  • Shingles normally have adhesive strips or sealant between each layer so that each shingle seals to the one underneath it. High winds can break this seal. Like loosened roofing nails, this makes your roof less wind and water resistant.


Preventing Wind Damage


To prevent wind damage, one of the first things you’ll need to think about are the sealant strips on the backs of the shingles. These strips are meant to bond with the shingles underneath as the sun heats the roof. If you live in a cool climate or a shady area, your roof may not get warm enough to make a good seal. Ask your contractor to use roof cement as they install the shingles. Two or three small spots of cement underneath each shingle increases your roof’s wind resistance by a wide margin.

Because the roof’s ability to seal itself is dependent on the sun’s heat, you should always install a new asphalt shingle roof in the spring or summer. If you wait until fall, your roof will be more vulnerable to wind damage over the winter.



Excellent craftsmanship is the final component to a wind-resistant roof. Your contractor should:

  • Notify you if the roof deck is weak or rotted because this lessens the deck’s ability to hold roofing nails.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for shingle placement. Using an incorrect placement pattern may make the roof more prone to wind damage, and it may also void the manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Ensure that roofing nails are driven properly. The heads of each nail should make contact with the shingle without pressing into the hingle. Nails that are driven in at an angle or driven in too far will damage the shingle, while nails that aren’t driven far enough will allow the shingles to work loose over time.


Dealing with Damage When it Happens

When high winds damage your roof, the first thing to do is take pictures of the damage. If you suspect that the shingles lifted, call a professional to inspect the roof for broken seals and loosened fasteners.

Most homeowner policies cover wind damage. On your policy, “Coverage A” is the part that covers damage to your home, so if you have this coverage, you should be protected. Call your insurance agent to start the claims process. They will either send an adjuster to your home to assess the damage or request that you send photos of the damage. After that, you’ll need to call a contractor to get a quote for the repair or replacement costs.


In the meantime, you may need to ask your contractor to temporarily patch your roof to prevent leaks while your claim is being approved. Make sure that your contractor adds these costs to your final quote so that the insurance company can cover these charges as well.

Wind damage is one of the most common reasons why shingle roofs fail, particularly among older roofs. If you’re installing a new roof, make sure that the contractor takes extra precautions so that you can avoid wind damage in the future.