Storm Recovery 101: How to Assess, Document, and Repair Storm Damage to Your Home

April 19, 2023

Owning a home is both a rewarding and challenging experience. One of the key responsibilities that come with homeownership is ensuring the safety and upkeep of your property, particularly during and after inclement weather. While regular maintenance can help protect your home from damage, even the most diligent homeowner can face unexpected storm-related issues.

After a storm has passed and conditions are safe, it's essential to inspect the exterior of your home for any damage that may have been caused by high winds, hail, water, or debris. This inspection should be conducted before contacting your insurance company, as it will allow you to gather the necessary documentation to support your claim. To guide you through this process, we've compiled a comprehensive Storm Damage Checklist that outlines the critical steps to take following a storm.

In this blog post, we'll discuss the importance of safety during the inspection process, how to identify various types of storm damage, and the proper way to document and report any issues to your insurance company. By following this checklist, you'll be better prepared to handle the aftermath of a storm and protect your home from further damage.

1. Attend to Safety First

Before diving into a thorough inspection of your home for storm damage, it's crucial to prioritize safety. Storms can create hazardous conditions both inside and outside your property. To ensure a safe and secure inspection process, keep the following safety guidelines in mind:

Be cautious of hazards

While inspecting your home, stay vigilant for potential hazards such as slippery patches of water or ice, damaged or exposed electrical lines, and broken glass. Exercise caution while moving around your property, and use appropriate safety gear such as gloves, boots, and safety glasses.

Downed power lines

If you encounter any downed power lines near your home, treat them as dangerous and live. Maintain a safe distance from the lines and alert the utility company immediately. Do not attempt to touch or move the power lines yourself, as this could lead to severe injury or even death.

Gas leaks

If you smell gas or suspect there might be a gas leak, take immediate action to protect yourself and your family. Shut off the main gas line, open all windows to allow for ventilation, and leave the house immediately. Notify the gas company of the potential leak and follow their instructions. Do not return to your home until the gas company has inspected the property and deemed it safe for re-entry.

By prioritizing safety during your post-storm inspection, you can minimize the risk of injury while assessing your home for damage. Remember that your well-being and the safety of your loved ones should always come first, even if it means delaying your inspection until conditions have improved.

2. Check for Wind Damage

Wind can be a powerful force during a storm, causing significant damage to your home's roof and structure. After ensuring your safety, it's important to inspect your property for any visible signs of wind damage. Identifying these issues early on will help you prevent further damage and protect your home's integrity.

Roof damage

One of the most common areas to sustain wind damage is the roof of your home. Inspect your roof for any visible signs of damage, such as bent, torn, or cracked shingles. Damaged shingles leave the underlying waterproofing layer exposed, making your home more vulnerable to water infiltration and subsequent issues.

Curled or lifted shingles

High winds can cause shingles to curl or lift, creating gaps that allow water to seep underneath. Water infiltration can lead to a host of problems, including mold, mildew, and even structural damage like roof collapse. To prevent these complications, address curled or lifted shingles as soon as possible.

Structural damage

Windstorms, particularly those involving tornadoes or derechos, can also compromise your home's overall structure. Examine the exterior walls for signs of cracking, bowing, or shifting. Check your windows and doors for proper alignment and ensure they open and close smoothly. Additionally, inspect your attic and interior walls for any signs of water damage or structural stress.

By thoroughly checking for wind damage after a storm, you can take prompt action to repair any issues and prevent further harm to your home. Remember that it's always best to consult with a professional if you're unsure about the extent of the damage or if the necessary repairs are beyond your capabilities.

3. Check for Hail Damage

Hailstorms can cause significant harm to your home's exterior, particularly the siding and roof. After a hailstorm, it's crucial to inspect your property for any signs of damage to ensure that timely repairs are made and further deterioration is prevented.

Roof damage

Hail can have a considerable impact on your roof's shingles. Look for signs of damage such as loose granules, dents, or marks on the shingles. These issues may appear minor, but they can have long-term effects on your roof's ability to protect your home from water and sun damage. Pay close attention to areas where shingles overlap or where the roof slopes, as these locations are more susceptible to hail damage.

Siding damage

Hail can also cause dents, cracks, and other forms of damage to your home's siding. Examine your siding for any visible signs of damage, such as dented panels or chipped paint. It's essential to repair or replace damaged siding promptly, as this will help to maintain your home's protective barrier against the elements.

Gutters and downspouts

Don't forget to inspect your gutters and downspouts for signs of hail damage. Hail can dent, puncture, or even detach gutters and downspouts from your home. Damaged gutters can lead to improper drainage and, subsequently, water damage to your home's foundation, roof, and walls.

Outdoor fixtures and equipment

Lastly, check your outdoor fixtures and equipment, such as air conditioning units, outdoor lights, and patio furniture, for signs of hail damage. While these items might not directly impact your home's structural integrity, they can still be costly to replace or repair.

Identifying and addressing hail damage as soon as possible is crucial in maintaining your home's structural integrity and preventing further damage. If you're unsure about the extent of the damage or if professional repairs are necessary, consult with a reliable contractor who specializes in storm damage restoration.

4. Document the Damage

When dealing with storm damage, it's essential to create a detailed record of any issues before taking any steps to clean up or repair your property. This documentation will be invaluable when filing a claim with your insurance company, as it provides evidence of the damage sustained and helps to ensure you receive the full compensation you're entitled to.

Take photographs

As you inspect your home for storm damage, take clear and detailed photographs of all affected areas. Capture multiple angles and close-ups of specific issues, such as damaged shingles, dented siding, or broken windows. These images will serve as visual proof of the damage when submitting your insurance claim.

Create a written record

In addition to taking photographs, create a written record of the damage. Describe each issue in detail, noting the location, severity, and any additional observations. This written documentation can help you keep track of the damage and provide valuable information for your insurance company and repair professionals.

Record any temporary repairs

If you need to make temporary repairs to your home to prevent further damage, such as covering a broken window with a tarp or boarding up a hole in the roof, be sure to document these efforts as well. Take photographs of the temporary repairs and keep receipts for any materials or services you purchase. This information can be useful when seeking reimbursement from your insurance company for these expenses.

Organize and store documentation

Keep all of your storm damage documentation organized and stored in a safe location, either digitally or in a physical folder. This will make it easier to access and share your records when needed, and it will also help you track the progress of your repairs and insurance claims.

Thorough documentation of storm damage not only helps to streamline the insurance claims process but also ensures that you have a clear understanding of the extent of the damage and the necessary steps to restore your home. By taking the time to properly document your home's storm damage, you'll be better prepared to navigate the recovery process and protect your financial interests.

5. Clear Standing Water

Heavy rain or snow can lead to standing water around your home, which can cause significant problems if left unaddressed. To protect your property from further damage and potential health risks, it's crucial to clear standing water as quickly and safely as possible.

Inspect for standing water

After a storm, inspect your property for any areas of standing water, both inside and outside your home. Check for pooled water on your roof, around the foundation, and in your basement or crawl space.

Avoid electrical hazards

Before attempting to remove standing water, ensure that the power to your home is turned off. This will help to prevent electrical hazards and protect your safety during the cleanup process. Never enter standing water if you are unsure whether the power is off, as this could lead to severe injury or even electrocution.

Use a sump pump

If you have a sump pump, use it to remove standing water from your basement or crawl space. Ensure that the pump is functioning properly and that the discharge hose is directing water away from your home's foundation. If your sump pump is not working or you don't have one, consider renting or purchasing one to help with the water removal process.

Address gutter and drainage issues

Inspect your gutters and downspouts for blockages and debris that may have caused water to pool around your home. Clean and clear any obstructions to ensure proper drainage and prevent future issues with standing water.

Prevent mold growth

Standing water can lead to mold growth, which can pose health risks to you and your family. After clearing standing water, thoroughly dry the affected areas using fans, dehumidifiers, or other drying methods. Disinfect surfaces with a mold-killing solution to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

By promptly addressing standing water after a storm, you can help protect your home from further damage and safeguard the health of your family. If you're dealing with extensive water damage or mold growth, consider hiring a professional water damage restoration company to ensure the proper cleanup and restoration of your home.

6. Remove Debris

Severe weather often leaves behind debris such as branches, leaves, and other materials scattered throughout your property. This debris can cause damage to your roof, siding, and other parts of your home if not removed promptly. To protect your home and ensure its structural integrity, it's crucial to clear debris as safely and efficiently as possible.

Inspect for debris

After the storm, carefully examine your property for any debris that may have accumulated on your roof, in your gutters, and around your home's exterior. Look for both small branches and larger tree limbs, as well as any other foreign objects that could have been carried by the wind.

Prioritize safety

When clearing debris, prioritize your safety by wearing appropriate protective gear, such as gloves, safety glasses, and sturdy footwear. Avoid overexerting yourself, and enlist the help of friends, family, or neighbors if the job is too large to handle alone. Be cautious of any potential hazards while removing debris, such as sharp objects or areas with unstable footing.

Document before removal

Before you begin removing debris, take photographs and document the damage for your insurance company. This will help to ensure that you receive appropriate compensation for any necessary repairs or replacements.

Clearing the roof and gutters

Remove any debris from your roof using a roof rake or other suitable tools. Exercise caution when working on the roof, and consider hiring a professional if the task is too dangerous or difficult to complete on your own. Clean your gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage and prevent water damage to your home.

Dispose of debris properly

As you clear debris from your property, ensure that you dispose of it properly. Check with your local waste management facility for guidelines on disposing of storm debris, and consider renting a dumpster or hiring a debris removal service if necessary.

By efficiently and safely removing debris after a storm, you can protect your home from further damage and maintain its structural integrity. If the task is too difficult or hazardous to complete on your own, consider hiring a professional debris removal service to assist you.

7. Contact Your Insurance Company

Once you have thoroughly inspected, documented, and addressed any immediate safety concerns, it's time to contact your insurance company to file a claim for the storm damage. Timely communication with your insurer can help expedite the claims process and ensure you receive the compensation necessary to repair your home.

Gather necessary documentation

Before contacting your insurance company, ensure you have all the relevant documentation on hand. This includes photographs of the damage, written records, receipts for temporary repairs or living expenses, and any other relevant information. Having this documentation readily available will help streamline the claims process and provide evidence to support your claim.

File a claim

Reach out to your insurance company to file a claim for the storm damage. Provide them with the necessary documentation and be prepared to answer any questions they may have about the extent of the damage and the steps you've taken to mitigate further issues.

Schedule an adjuster's visit

Your insurance company will likely send an adjuster to your property to assess the damage and determine the appropriate compensation. Schedule a time for the adjuster to visit that works for both of you, and be present during the inspection to answer any questions and provide additional information if needed.

Obtain repair estimates

While waiting for the adjuster's visit, obtain estimates from reputable contractors for the necessary repairs. This will give you an idea of the costs involved and can help you negotiate with your insurance company if needed.

Keep communication lines open

Maintain open communication with your insurance company throughout the claims process. Respond promptly to any requests for additional information or documentation and keep them informed of any changes in your situation. This will help ensure a smooth and efficient claims process, allowing you to focus on repairing your home and returning to normalcy as quickly as possible.

By following these steps and maintaining clear communication with your insurance company, you can help ensure a smoother claims process and receive the compensation you need to restore your home. Remember that repairing storm damage is often best left to trustworthy professionals who can complete the work in a timely and efficient manner, preventing further damage and protecting your investment.

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