Weather related home damage, including flooding and roof destruction, is no stranger to the Metrolina region of North and South Carolina. Thunderstorms, heavy rainfall, and powerful winds have wrecked havoc in the past, and will likely continue to be a yearly threat throughout the Charlotte metropolitan area. Recent months have seen an increase in hailstorms and vicious wind forces. Many homeowners have been caught off guard and ill prepared. Here are some points that can help you avoid the high cost of wind related roof damage.

Understanding Roof Design

Perhaps you have never considered how the shape of your roof affects the possibilities of wind damage. Windstorms create outside pressure against your home. The force of the moving air passes along your roof, down the exterior walls, and lastly against the very foundation of your home. If this energy is not managed correctly so that the blunt of the wind force gets transferred to the ground, your home can suffer major damage.

Simple designs would seem less susceptible to problems, yet gabled roofs are the most likely designs to experience wind damage.

Ok. So what is a gabled roof?

Think of a rectangle or box shaped home with a roof that sits on it like an elongated “A.” The outside wall on each end of the house extends to the top of the roof. On a home with a gabled roof, the end walls take the blunt of any wind force. Reliable roof protection requires a right-crafted roof structure. If not adequately braced, the end wall can collapse, taking with it part of the roof.

The typical gabled roof is structured upon manufactured trusses. Roof sheathing is then fastened to the trusses. Plywood is the typical sheathing material, and nails or staples are the basic means of anchoring. The sheathing is topped with some form of vapor barrier. Shingles, metal, or some other roofing material provides the finished roofing cover.

In many homes, the sheathing is the only thing that holds the manufactured trusses in place. The higher the wind force becomes, the greater is the risk that the home may suffer serious damage. This may seem a ho-hum statement. And of course we are not talking about the average thunderstorm. Hurricane force winds may not often touch the Charlotte Metrolina area, but tornados have proven to be very common. Why not consider installing additional supports and braces within your truss system.

Inspecting The Truss System Beneath Your Roof

Start by donning clothes that help protect you from the dangers associated with the common attic space:

  • Dust mask
  • Eye protection
  • Work gloves
  • Long sleeved shirt and full-length jeans.

Take hold of a trustworthy flashlight. Ascend into your attic. Unless your attic is floored, be careful to walk only on the wood joists. If possible, take along a few boards to use as walking planks.

Ok. Look overhead. You are seeking out evidence of poor construction. Pay attention to the nails and staples that are poking through the sheathing. If you see strong evidence of shoddy workmanship, of nails and staples that missed the trusses, consider calling in a Charlotte roofer to have the sheathing properly installed. Be aware that this will also involve some replacement of the currently installed roofing materials.

Bracing Your Roof

In the event that your roof needs additional bracing, consider the following three methods of support:

  • Truss Bracing. This involves running 2*4 studs the length of the roof. The studs should overlap across two trusses. They should be installed at three places: 1) Approximately 18 inches from the ridge of the roof; 2) Near the center of the span; 3) At the base of the truss.
  • Gable End Bracing. Consider the face of the “A”, or the inside of the wall, as the gable end. To brace the gable end, install 2*4 studs in an “X” pattern that begins with one stud running from the top center of the gable and ending at the bottom center brace on the fourth truss, and one stud that begins at the bottom center of the gable and runs to the top center brace of the fourth truss.
  • Hurricane Straps. Functional against any type of high winds, hurricane straps are designed to help retain the roof to the walls. These galvanized strips of metal are designed to overlap the truss, extend below the wall top plates, and anchor into the nearest wall stud.

This roof protection article, adapted from an article designed for the American Red Cross by Janie Harris, Extension Housing Specialist, is purposed to help Metrolina homeowners better protect their homes from unusually high winds. For more information, contact: Right Way Exterior Solutions, LLC