Last week, I discussed the gale-force wind gusts that plagued Southern California and how these unusually strong Santa Ana winds brought widespread destruction to property. Unlike Hurricane Alley, Southern California is usually immune to hurricane force winds, and the roofs of most structures in this region are rarely forced to endure this kind of storm.

After hurricanes have affected a region, homeowners and businesses are advised to have a licensed professional roofer examine their roofs in the expectation that hurricane winds may cause damage. In many instances after Hurricane Ike went through Texas, businesses and homeowners didn’t know that the gale-force winds extensively damaged their roofs until months down the road when the rainy season began. The rains came and suddenly business owners and homeowners discovered that the winds formed cracks in the membrane of their roofs and caused minute ripples, which allow water to seep into structures. Over a course of a few months, relatively young roofs deteriorated quickly with the rain, turning the roof into a total loss.

There are many different types of roofs, and they are all rated for a certain amount of years depending on the type of material the roof is made out of and what kind of conditions (or region) the roof is expected to weather. In Southern California, a roof can be rated a 10, 20 or 30 year roof. After the strong Santa Ana gusts last week, building owners may want a professional to examine their roofs to see if any repairs should be reported to their insurance companies. In particular, roofs over 10 years old, may be more susceptible to strong winds. Winds may cause buckling or bring off tiles which cover the felt underneath. If the winds caused severe cracks or loosened too many seams, rain may come into a building, or a roof may be damaged enough to collapse.

A professional roofer can identify cracks and loose seams which we may not be readily seen. In the long run, a proper examination may be the difference between a few leaks and a roof collapse. Southern California is about to enter its winter rainy season.

More information on how an insured home or business owner may find help in dealing with wind related claims may be found at the non-profit insurance consumer protection organization, United Policyholders.