Storm Damage Inspection & Assessment
Every year throughout the United States, severe storm damage caused by hail, wind, floods, and storms that can include lightning, tornados, heavy snow and ice, and hurricanes cause billions of dollars in damage to residential and commercial properties.
In the past year alone, the U.S. was hit with eight major storm and climate-related events that each caused more than a billion dollars in property damage. Add in more localized storms, the bill for damage easily tops $10 billion a year.
Many times after a storm, property owners and management companies are not even aware that their property has been damaged. For example, over time, unrecognized storm damage can continue to deteriorate a roof system, leading to even greater problems in the future, problems that can negatively affect both the usability and value of a property leading to premature aging, deterioration, and property loss.
NIRC certified contractors are trained and certified to handle every size and type of damage situation. When a storm or other catastrophe causes damage or possible damage to a property, it is important to contact a Certified NIRC Contractor to get an immediate assessment of damage.
Every property owner should know that NIRC Certified Contractors have rapid access to the resources and technical skills needed to respond to the full range of potential storm damage.
And be sure to obtain a professional assessment of property damage – before preparing an insurance claim.
In doing such an assessment before preparing a claim, there are a number of items that a Certified NIRC Contractor will consider:
Roof Repairs and Installation
The roofing system is one of the most vulnerable to storm damage, because so many factors can have an impact on a roof. An inspection of the roof is based on a number of key indicators, whether the roof has been hit by high winds, a downed tree, a catastrophic hailstorm, or even a lightning strike.
- A tree on the roof, or roof or wall sections that have been blown open by a storm, are some of the most obvious signs of potential damage and risk. Safety comes first, so stay out of the building until a contractor has examined it for structural damage.
- Signs of storm damage to a roof can often be evident while standing on the ground. Missing shingles, metal pieces displaced from around the chimney, damaged exhaust pipes, roof valleys, outer edges or angles where the roof meets the walls, can sometimes be seen from the ground.
- Other damage can be assessed from inside. The attic can be inspected for leaks or water damage. Water stains might be seen on the ceiling or walls. These all point to the need for repairs or a roof replacement.
- When on a ladder or on the roof itself (for safety, we DO NOT recommend that property owners try this themselves), a Certified NIRC Contractor will look for excess granules in the gutters. These granules may have been loosened by hail impacts. While people hear stories of “golf ball-sized hailstones,” the fact is that most hailstones are small – yet they still can cause significant damage to the roof. And loose granules should not be dismissed or overlooked. Granules are vitally important to the functioning of the roof: They protect the asphalt coating from ultraviolet light, add coloring and beauty, and provide fire resistance.
While siding, stucco and brick are durable exterior finishes, they are susceptible to considerable storm damage. Often, property owners don’t notice the damage until it’s too late to file a claim. It is important to have a property inspected thoroughly after a severe storm event.
- Vinyl Siding: It can be broken, cracked, or sections of it can be blown off in a storm. It’s important to report any damage that might have existed before a storm. Non-storm damage can include siding that is bowing out or appears pushed together, indications that it was nailed onto the wall too tightly. If part of the siding is melted, that can be an indication that a BBQ grill was too close to the wall. There might have been a grass fire or leaves being burned too close to the building. When this type of non-storm damage is acknowledged, it builds credibility and trust between the property owner, the contractor and the insurer. And when the siding is fully replaced, the property owner gets the added benefit of having pre-storm problems cleaned up too.
- Metal Siding: Wind and hail can dent, crease and tear apart metal siding. In addition, the wind will blow other debris like trash cans or tree limbs into the siding and cause damage. Again, in the interest of trust and credibility, we also emphasize that dents and other damage to metal siding occurs over time. Any damage that occurred before a storm hit should also be reported.
- EFIS or Synthetic Stucco: Storms can crack, chip and dent exterior EFIS and stucco applications. This damage is often noticeable because an area of the wall will feel soft, or be dented in. There might also be an area that has numerous small cracks radiating in a pattern similar to a spider web. This evidence of damage means that the foam backing behind the exterior EFIS or stucco coat will have to be removed and replaced. It’s more than a simple patch-up job.
- Wood, Cedar,T11: Exterior wood finishes can crack and paint can be stripped off by storms. In more severe events, entire wall sections might be pulled apart. In many restoration projects, the area can be cleaned, scrapped, pressure washed and painted, with only minimal repairs to the wood. More severe damage requires replacement. This includes damage to cedar shakes and lap siding, where the thin edges are particularly susceptible to damage, and the wood will need to be replaced. These are all observations and recommendations that the NIRC Certified Contractor will include in the repair notes.
Windows and Screens
While each type of window can have unique damage, the following should be checked:
- Each window for paint loss, cracks, holes, dents, and broken glass. In thermal windows, check for fogging between the panes.
- Each screen should be inspected for dents and cracks in the frame, and expanded fibers, holes and tears in the screening material.
- Each window should also be checked to ensure they are properly caulked and counter-flashed
Lights and Fixtures
- Many exterior light fixtures can become dented and the glass cracked.
Overhead Doors and Entry Doors
- Entry points are often overlooked during inspections. The contractor will look for paint loss, dents on the metal or wood door panels, and damage to the trim around the frame.
Gutters and Downspouts
- Metal gutters can be susceptible to dents, and PVC gutters can crack. If the gutter is made of aluminum, it will be thin and dents will be obvious. While the down spouts usually receive damage on the side of the home in the direction of the storm, the gutters will often receive the worst damage on the side opposite the storm. As debris rolls down the roof, they impact the inside of the gutter and dent the metal.
Fascia and Soffits
- The fascia will often be made of wood wrapped in metal or PVC, or the wood may be painted. The metal and PVC can sustain damage in the same way as the gutters. Painted fascia and soffits can be chipped, exposing the wood.
- While typically not damaged by hail – can be severely damaged by wind. It’s common for a homeowner to attempt to repair soffits themselves, often causing more damage or only performing what could be called a stop gap repair, which will soon need to be re-done by a professional. It’s best to get it done right the first time!
Decks and Railings
- Wooden decks and railings will often be splintered by hail and flying debris. The most common damage is to the stain or paint. To repair it the deck must be stripped and cleaned, and the stain or paint reapplied.
- It’s wise to check around the property for additional items such as water hose reels, hot tub covers, flower box planters, privacy fences, sheds and other out buildings. It’s all part of the property, and it’s usually all covered in the insurance policy
Driveways and Walkways
- Some storms, particularly severe wind events that hurl large chunks of debris and trees through the air, as well as flooding or blizzard events, can cause concrete and other driveway materials to chip, crack and split. Not only does this reduce the lifespan of the driveway or walkway, it can also pose safety hazards.
- Fallen trees and limbs cause billions of dollars in damage each year to residential and commercial properties. Property owners are responsible for removing trees that have fallen on their property, even if it is a tree from a neighbor’s yard. An owner’s insurance policy will help to cover the cost of removal of the tree and limbs from all structures, and pay for the repairs to the structures that have been damaged.
Insurance Claims Process: Know Your Deductible
Finally, knowing the details of the homeowners or commercial property coverage, including the limits and deductibles, are of tremendous help during the insurance claims process. It’s always a great idea to be prepared in advance, by examining the policy to know what the insurance covers now, before a storm might hit.
National Insurance Restoration Council Certified Contractors You Can Trust
Once a home or other property has been inspected by a Certified NIRC Contractor, you will get the information you need to move forward with confidence. With the knowledge, experience and resources of NIRC Certified Contractors, you can rest assured that the information and advice you receive about the damage to your property to stay well equipped to make wise decisions throughout the insurance claims and restoration construction process.