When it comes to living in storm-heavy areas, most homeowners underestimate the real extent of wind damage on their properties. Powerful storms like hurricanes and tornadoes can destroy almost everything in their pathways, from personal items to entire houses. After a natural disaster hits, checking for damages is usually the last thing on the victims’ minds.
However, the entire property must be inspected for anything that might be wrong, immediately after the storm dies down. In doing this, the homeowner will be able to claim the insurance money and avoid any further repairs and problems.
With that being said, it can be difficult to navigate the tricky waters of wind damage. Whether you are a first-time homeowner or you have been one for decades, there are plenty of mistakes that can happen if you are not aware of them before you proceed. In other words, there is a right and a wrong way to check around your home for wind damage, as well as a few things you should watch out for throughout the process.
To begin, let’s take a look at exactly what you should do in the event that you suspect wind damage around your property.
Checklist: What To Do While Checking For Wind Damage After a Storm
There are 9 essential steps that you should follow when you are checking the inside and outside of your home for wind damage after a storm, in order to ensure that you don’t miss anything:
1. Inspect the roof
As we all know, the roof is the one piece of any home that is the most susceptible to wind and storm damage. As a result, it is important to follow through with a thorough check in this area before anything else. Here are some specifics to look for when you are checking the roof for any wind damage:
- Broken or missing materials (shingles, tile, slate, etc.)
- Damaged shingles and seams
- Holes or gaps
- Loose debris on top
- Damage to the chimney exterior
- Fallen debris in surrounding areas (ie spouts and gutters)
- Water stains around the area
Look around on the top and sides of your roof for any broken or missing materials, depending on what your roofing components are made of. There could also be miscellaneous debris on top of the surface that you will want to get rid of as soon as you locate it.
Shingles and seams can be damaged or cracked as well, along with holes and gaps in between the tiles. If you have a chimney, the exterior pieces might have fallen off and landed somewhere on the roof or the ground nearby. You will want to make sure nothing is loose there, to avoid any potential injuries.
Lastly, check for fallen debris from your roofing materials in the surrounding areas and water stains around the location.
2. Check all of your exterior walls
When you are looking around for wind damage on the outside of your home, exterior wall chipping or cracking can be difficult to spot. With a close eye, you should cover every area, paying close attention to the following effects that might be present:
- Cracking or splitting
- Damaged stucco material
- Damaged or missing siding
- Paint removal, chipping, or other similar damages
Some of the damages that you should look for on your exterior walls include cracks, chipping, dents, missing pieces, and stripped paint.
3. Look at all exterior pipes and gutters
Next, you will need to check around and inside of the gutters and downspouts that are placed around the exterior of your home. Depending on the type of storm that you have just experienced, you might notice pipes that are chipped or cracked, as well as areas with large debris and other obstructions that have damaged the area.
4. Assess your windows carefully
The windows are also very important to check immediately following a large storm. Since they are made of glass, it is very easy for something to hit and break them, causing hundreds of dollars in damages. When you are checking your windows, proceed with caution, and look for these common issues:
- Window glass that is shattered
- Broken window panes
- Screen damage (rips, holes, missing screens, etc.)
- Window frame damage (cracks, dents, etc.)
Make sure that you go around to every window in your house to make sure that nothing is broken or left open. The most obvious sign of window damage will be shattered window glass, which you will be able to spot immediately.
On the other hand, you might notice broken window panes, damage to the outdoor screens, which includes rips, holes, or missing screens altogether, along with general damage to the entire window frame.
While you are completing your inspection of all windows in your home, you must take additional safety precautions to avoid any injuries or further damages. First of all, you should watch out for any loose or broken glass while you are in the area. It would be helpful to wear a sturdy pair of gloves that can protect your fingers from glass cuts and similar injuries.
Aside from avoiding personal injury, you should do your best to come up with a solution to any problems that you might be experiencing on the exterior of your home right away. If any of your windows are broken, use a large slab of wood or similar material to cover them up immediately.
5. Check your exterior driveways and walkways
After you have taken care of the windows on your house, you will need to look at the ground you are walking on. Even though it might not look like anything has happened to your landscaping, you might be dealing with disoriented gravel or cracks in the sidewalk.
6. Take care of all trees and plants outside
The trees and plants in your front and back yard are equally as important as the exterior of your home. If any of your trees have fallen, you will be responsible to take care of the clean up like the homeowner. Fortunately, if you have a basic home insurance policy, these services should be completely covered.
If any of your windows or exterior home fixtures have been damaged by any trees or branches that came loose during the storm, there is no need to worry. This is something that most insurance policies will also cover.
7. Test your porches, decks, and fences
Next, you will need to carefully test any porches, decks, and fences that you have around your property. If they are made out of wood, it is easy for the surfaces to experience breaking, chipping, and cracking, among other common damages. Even if the paint is stripped from these structures, you will most likely be able to get some kind of insurance payout to fix them properly.
8. Inspect your entry doors
After completing a full inspection of the outside of your home and property, it will be time to go inside and do some additional investigating. During storms with high winds and water pressure, your entry doors might fall off the hinges completely, or experience damages like cracks and holes that will let moisture into your home.
It is very important to make sure that you are not leaving anything open to the outdoors following a storm, which is why you should take note of any outside openings that can affect how you will be living on the inside in the aftermath.
9. Check crawl spaces carefully for flooding and water damage
Last but not least, you should check any crawlspaces that you might have, both inside and outdoors. It is common to notice some flooding and moisture in these areas, which should be avoided at all costs. If you leave these issues alone, they can come with mold, mildew, and plenty more problems that you won’t want to experience.
Caution: Common Mistakes To Avoid Following Wind Damage
It is important to be thorough while you are checking for wind damage to your property after a storm, but it is equally vital that you avoid these common mistakes that many homeowners make after they have gone through a tragic disaster:
Failing to assess or take note of wind damage
The very first mistake that a homeowner can make following a big storm has to do with the assessment of wind damage. This can come from not taking notes and documentation of these damages, or just failing to look for them at all.
Because wind damage is sometimes not as visible as other home damages caused by severe weather and natural disasters, those who are affected might not even know it. This is a critical mistake because nothing can be done when the issue gets worse months after the accident and was missed due to neglect.
Hiring a “storm chaser”
When a natural disaster hits in any neighborhood, there is chaos that immediately follows. Homeowners are all in need of home repairs that are more urgent than usual, meaning that local contractors are booked up right away.
This inconvenience leaves an opening for crooked contractors, also known as “storm chasers”. Knowing that homeowners in the area are in desperation, they will go door to door advertising their services to anyone who will fall for it, only to disappoint them in the long-run. Hiring any of these contractors should be avoided at all costs, and nothing should be done before you speak to your insurance company.
Not filing an insurance claim
Another huge mistake associated with wind damage is not filing an insurance claim at all. To receive any kind of payout for broken and missing items inside and outside of your home, you will need to contact your insurance company and make arrangements for a payout on your policy.
Homeowners that don’t contact their insurance companies on time, or at all, will not receive the assistance that they need with repairs and replacements. In other words, they will not receive what they don’t even ask for.
Making critical mistakes during the claims process
Finally, it is very easy to make critical mistakes during the claims process, especially when it is your first time around. Navigating the ins and outs can be difficult to do all alone, leaving homeowners vulnerable to all of the tricks that insurance companies have up their sleeves.
This can include filing the wrong claim for your situation, not knowing your rights, signing paperwork that is premature or unnecessary, and ending up receiving a lower payout than what is needed and expected.
Hiring a Public Adjuster For Assessing Wind Damage
While it is true that inexperienced homeowners will most likely run into a lot of mistakes throughout the insurance claims process, it does not mean that they will not be able to seek guidance from a professional.
If you are dealing with wind damages from bad weather or a severe storm, it will be in your best interest to get in contact with a public adjuster as soon as possible, before you try to file the claim on your own.
This should be done within 48 hours of the incident, to come out with the best possible results at the end. The public adjuster will help you to assess the damages, ensuring that you do not miss anything while you are looking around your property.
Also, they will know exactly how to proceed with recovering these damages, as far as repairs and policy payouts go. Public adjusters are professionals in the insurance industry, meaning that they will handle everything for you, avoiding the mistakes that you would probably make doing the same thing on your own.
Instead of blindly moving through the claims process, you can choose to have someone on your side who will lead you in the right direction at all times. With the help of a public adjuster, assessing and recovering damages from wind storms will be a simple task that you can quickly move on from, allowing you to focus on getting your home back together as you should.