What to do when it’s so windy, it feels like the roof might blow off your home

Strong winds are lashing the top of the North Island today, with gusts of 100kph forecast.

Last week property damage due to the weather was reported all across the motu, from trees and fences, to flooding and leaks, to roofs being ripped off altogether.

When the wind is really whipping around your home, it can feel like the roof is about to tear off, Twister-style. But how likely is that really?

“The reason people often lose a roof is that the wind pulls up a piece that’s not fixed down well. That will open the roof up to either negative or positive pressure, that can make the rest of the roofspace explode,” says Jeremy Gray, of Tradie site Builderscrack.co.nz.

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Luckily, the chances of a roof being totally blown off are quite small, says Gray, even in weather as severe as we’ve seen in the past few weeks.

“Usually a roof will make noise before it goes. You’ll hear the iron dragging against the old nails, and you’ll hear that creaking sound.

“That’s really the time that the homeowner will either want a tradesperson, or themselves, to get on the roof [when the weather eases], and bang down those nails, or ideally replace them with roofing screws.”

Strong winds blew the roof off the Normablue cafe in Waterloo, Lower Hutt, last week.

Supplied

Strong winds blew the roof off the Normablue cafe in Waterloo, Lower Hutt, last week.

Builderscrack has been inundated with requests from people looking for help to repair damage done to their homes during this spell of wild weather, says Gray, and it’s “putting pressure on an industry that’s already under the pump”.

Avoiding storm damage requires maintenance and common sense, like making sure any trees around the home are well cared for.

“Fences and roofs are the two big ones that cop heaps of damage in storms. If something’s going to fall on them, it’s typically a tree that hasn’t been kept under control,” says Gray. “A lot of damage can probably been mitigated by preventative maintenance.”

Pinning down loose items in your yard is a good place to start when weather is wild.

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Pinning down loose items in your yard is a good place to start when weather is wild.

Of course, it’s too late to worry about preventative maintenance when the storm hits. But you can take steps like ensuring trampolines are flipped up and pinned to the ground, and any moveable stuff in the garden is secured.

With a few more months of winter to get through, it’s safe to say we’ll experience more of the wild weather we’ve seen up and down the country, so it’s a good idea to get ready to cope with big weather in the future.

“Other things to be mindful of are wooden fence posts that are old and have potentially rotted out around ground level,” Gray adds.

The weather is calmer today, but we can expect more wild weather before the winter is over.

Kevin Stent/Stuff

The weather is calmer today, but we can expect more wild weather before the winter is over.

Concrete fence posts can also be weakened at ground level when moisture gets into the concrete and rusts the steel support rods inside it. As the rust expands it cracks and weakens the concrete, so the concrete posts may look strong, but when wild weather comes through “it’s too much for them”.

Old sheds, especially sheds that are open, carports, and structures that have space where wind can enter and get under are often vulnerable, too. “They are often the sorts of buildings that, once they get older, the maintenance on them might not be that high.”

Older buildings typically might have nails instead of roofing screws, and this can also be an issue. One maintenance task that might save you a lot of money in the long run is replacing roofing nails with screws – when the weather is safer for getting on the roof.

“Especially with driving rain, because as the wind works those nails loose the water can make its way down those nails into the roof.”

A tin garden shed can be vulnerable to big weather, especially if it’s left open.

KEVIN STENT

A tin garden shed can be vulnerable to big weather, especially if it’s left open.

Also make sure your drainage is functioning properly. Clearing gutters will not only stop gutters leaking and breaking, but will stop water backing up under the eaves into your roof, and then potentially into the ceiling, too.

“If a home’s lost iron, you really want to get there and sort that out before you’ve even got water damage,” says Gray. “Any handy person, builder, carpenter or roofer, can patch the issue in order for it to be fixed properly later.

“The key is to prevent water ingress as much as possible during the event, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get us properly fixed and sealed while the event is occurring.

“It’s really just a matter of mitigating potential further damage and that just means securing everything that can be secured.”



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