One of the great things about living in Colorado is there is no shortage of great views and access to nature. With all the beauty that the mountains provide they also create some issues that are unique to our area and high winds are one of them. We can frequently see wind in excess of 50+ mile per hour (MPH) so this means that our homes need to be equipped to handle this element.

While most modern shingles are rated to withstand 90 MPH winds you can start seeing shingle damage with windspeeds of 50MPH according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. For this reason, most Colorado building codes require a shingle speed rating of 110 MPH. While this code is not new to Colorado there are still many shingle types that are more prone to roof damage than others.

What Happens When my Shingled Roof Ages?

The most common type of wind damage is caused by a roof that is aging. With todays modern shingles the two most common types are a 30 year (most common) and a 50 year. These projected life cycles are meant for a perfect roof environment which is not always the case in Colorado because of our turbulent climate. Since most people do not get on their roofs to inspect how they are aging I have several common signs that you can look for from the ground.

  • Curling – when the edges of tabs of your shingles start to lift or cup.
  • Granular loss – Granular are the protective layer for your shingles and they also hold the pigments that make up the roof color. You will see these collected in the gutters or at the bottom of the downspouts.
  • Blistering – one of the main materials that makes up shingles is asphalt. When the shingles have been heated and cooled for several years they will start to blister. This can expose the fiberglass mate that provides the structural integrity for the shingle.

While these signs mean that your roof is aging it does not always mean you have to replace it. There are many preventative maintenance things that can be done to protect your roof from further damage. When these issues are present your roof is more exposed to damage from the winds that we commonly experience in Colorado.

Assuring the Longevity of Your Roof Start with The Install.

While getting a new roof reduces the risk of having further issues, it is highly important to make sure the shingles are properly installed. Asphalt shingles are only a small part of the equation and if one item is missed or installed improperly you can be exposed to excessive aging of your roof. Because of the consistent nature of our climate many of the local building code offices in Colorado have identified best building practices that are reviewed during the inspection process. With all of this said it is important to review with your contractor what they are going to look for once the old roof system is removed and how they will install the new roof system. Here are some of the major questions that will need to be addressed when choosing your contractor:

  • Will they be pulling a permit? – This is important because it is the first sign that the contactor will be trying to adhere to local building codes.
  • What is removed when you take off the old roof? – When removing an old roof, you need to be cleaning it off to the wood decking underneath.
  • How do they handle soft or improper decking? – Both code and manufactures warranties are very specific about these items. For code to consider the wood decking to be soft in most area in Colorado it has to depress 1.5 inches of and 18-inch span. For most cities and manufactures you have to have a constant deck.
  • Will my roof be properly ventilated? – Every house is a little different and your ventilation needs to be calculated based on the square footage of the attic below. The other piece to roof ventilation that is commonly over looked is having a proper air intake (soffit vents or lower roof vents). When an attic is not supplied with cooler air the high roof vents will only release a portion of hot air in the attic. If the attic gets too hot for too long it can start to affect the life of the shingles.
  • How are the shingles secured? – Similar to building codes for high wind areas many shingle manufactures will require an improve nailing pattern to help the shingles withstand high winds. Most commonly they will require the use of six nails instead of 5.
  • What is the ideal temperature range for my roof to be installed? – Most manufactures would prefer the roof be installed in a warm, calm and dry environment. While it is the preferred method in Colorado, we cannot always guarantee that these conditions are always met, It is a good rule of thumb that the temperature needs to be above 50 degrees for the day of install.

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 have lifted, call a professional to inspect the roof for broken seals and loosened fasteners.
While wind damage is covered by most insurance carriers there are many things that you need to consider before filing a claim.

  • First how much damage is there? – Many areas have unique laws when it comes to classifying a repair or a replacement and this should be taken into account when considering a claim.
  • How much will the wind damage repair cost? – If the damage does not exceed the cost of your deductible it is probably not worth filing a claim. Too many unpaid claims can affect your insurance history.
  • Is my shingle still made or does it meet code? – If your roof has a shingle on it that does not meet the local building code and a permit is required for the repair you may need to replace the entire roof.

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.