Hurricanes and Roofing: D.C. Taylor Co. Offers Advice In Free Online Seminar

On June 21 at 10:00amEST, Greg Thirnbeck and Todd Kaska, vice presidents at D.C. Taylor Co., will present along with Jack H. Struyk, president of Holmes Murphy Insurance Co., “Roof Readiness,” a free online seminar discussing how to prepare your commercial or industrial roof for hurricanes. Facility managers can register at, or by calling (800) 876-6346. A free Hurricane Preparedness Checklist is also available via the Web site or toll-free number above.

Below, Thirnbeck offers advice on maximizing the ability of your roofs to withstand a hurricane…

For TFM’s coverage of this topic, read “Roof Durability: Cover Boards Contribute.”

How to Protect Your Roof from Heavy Hurricane Rains
By Greg Thirnbeck, Registered Roof Consultant

When Hurricane Katrina rolled ashore in Louisiana August 29, 2005 packing 140 mph winds and dumping an inch an hour of rain along much of the Gulf Coast, America held its breath. Only a few years earlier, a hurricane narrowly missed New Orleans. The latest storm would result in property damage and recovery costs far exceeding the $32 billion caused by Andrew in 1992 as it battered the Southeast.

Katrina is still fresh in our minds as we prepare for the new hurricane season. Being prepared for a hurricane can not only save your life, but it can reduce the risk of water damage to your property. Few preparations can help keep the rain and wind out as much as protecting the windows and the roof. And the roof is the primary shield against the rain and the primary guardian of your assets below.

Few residential and industrial roofs can withstand the full power of a hurricane, but there are some simple steps you can take before a hurricane to reduce the risk of roof damage and failure. In the event of a hurricane these steps may keep you and your business safe and in operation.

Beware the weak spots.

Wind and rain seek out weak points in your roofing system and can lead to catastrophic roof failure during a hurricane.

Poorly designed or installed perimeter flashings. The perimeter is the most common failure point for roofing systems during wind storms. If flashings aren’t installed properly, wind uplift pressure can cause the system to peel the roof edge back and allow the entire system to fail.

Improperly secured rooftop equipment. If HVAC equipment or other rooftop units break free during high winds they can cause considerable damage to the roofing components, and adjacent properties.

Blocked or obstructed drainage systems. Blocked gutters, scuppers, and drains can create standing water on your roof during periods of heavy rain. If severe enough, the weight of the standing water could cause damage to the deck and other structural components possibly leading to roof collapse.

Improperly designed or constructed deck systems. If the deck is improperly designed or has not been adequately secured, wind uplift pressure could cause the deck to blow off even if the roof system is properly attached to the deck.

How to reduce your risk
This is the time to take action, before the first winds blow, to save a lot of headaches later. If you don’t have the knowledge or expertise to take these steps yourself, you can outsource the work to a qualified and licensed roofing contractor the sooner the better.

Step 1: Check roofing files for documentation of roof construction and warranties. It is important to have a clear understanding of how your roof has been constructed to assist in evaluating current conditions and determine if upgrades are necessary. Understanding your warranty terms and conditions will prevent voiding your warranty through improper activities and repairs on the roof. And, it will save you money by not paying for warranted repairs.

Step 2: Inspect your roof prior to hurricane season. Look for maintenance and repair items such as: blocked drainage systems; unanchored rooftop units-HVAC, vents, skylights; and determine if additional reinforcements to the perimeter such as fasteners and hurricane bars are required. Consult current building codes to ensure roof system and attachments are in compliance.

Step 3: Identify competent people to perform work safely. Inspections, maintenance, and repairs should be completed by trained and experienced people. Safety is an important aspect of the process. Remember to comply with all OSHA regulations.

Step 4: Establish a relationship with a trusted roofing contractor. Maintain ongoing agreements with a contractor to provide supplies and repairs after a storm.
Inspect for hidden damage after the storm

After The Storm
The hurricane has passed and you didn’t have major damage and little if any water entered your building. Wind, rain, and blowing debris may have caused hidden damage to your roof system that could leave you exposed during the next storm. That’s why it is important to have a licensed roofing professional re-inspect your roof after a hurricane to look for visible and hidden damage.

First, stop the leaks. Your first concern is to stop water entering your building any way you can. Water entering a building can damage insulation, walls, and equipment. You should keep basic roof repair materials on hand such as plastic tarps, sealants, and patching material to make emergency and temporary repairs.

Next, call a qualified and trusted roofing contractor. Following a disaster, unlicensed roofing contractors may approach you. Call to make sure a contractor’s license is current, and ask to see their liability and workers compensation insurance as you could find yourself a victim of a scam artist and in worse shape than before the storm.

Finally, don’t let safety fall by the wayside as work is performed on your roof. You already experienced a loss. Don’t compound your problems by opening yourself to liability concerns.