Every homeowner and parent should be prepared for emergencies. The American Red Cross “First Aid & Safety Handbook” has no entry for a leaking roof. So is a leaking roof an emergency? 

Storm Dread

Nothing fills a homeowner with dread quite like a storm-damaged roof. Yet properly prepared, any homeowner can deal with even extensive damage to the roof. Try following these three steps:

  1. Plan ahead by knowing exactly what your homeowners insurance protects. Keep a copy of the policy handy, along with contact information for your local agent and the 24-hour hotline most insurers provide. 
  2. Have a working relationship with a local, reliable roofer you can trust to answer your frantic call. This relationship can begin with routine annual inspection and maintenance, since no homeowner should ever navigate a house roof without proper training and equipment. Most residential roofers are happy to provide annual or semiannual maintenance plans.
  3. Follow through on routine inspection and maintenance by having small repairs made when needed. One small, timely repair can prevent much more extensive damage later on. A well-maintained roof is also a robust roof, able to repel storm damage better than a neglected roof. 

Problem or Emergency?

How big does a roofing problem have to be before you can declare it an emergency? Your local, helpful roofer will no doubt answer your call, especially if you have already begun an ongoing relationship. But determining if your roof needs emergency repair is tricky. 

A rule of thumb: penetrating water from outside, either into attic or living space, is a roofing emergency. Dripping water from a leaky pipe or HVAC system is not a roofing emergency. 

Missing roof elements that have been ripped away by high winds or driving rains also make your roof problem an emergency. Dented metal panels, crazed or cracked shingles, or shattered tiles do you make for an emergency. 

Don’t get us wrong — no damaged roof heals itself, and every roof problem requires repair. You can put off the panic, though, for small problems. Clogged gutters and critters in the attic are not roof emergencies. Missing ridge vents, destroyed shingles, and shattered sanitary stacks are roof emergencies. 

Now What?

Okay, you have satisfied yourself that you are not exaggerating and you do have a roof emergency. Now what? Make two calls:

  1. Call your insurance company to start a claim and schedule an insurance adjuster’s visit
  2. Call your local, dependable residential roofer

In most cases, the insurance adjuster will work directly with your roofing contractor to inspect the damage, determine a repair or replacement plan, and move ahead with repairs. You will be responsible for a deductible but the claim will probably move along with very little input from you. 

The roofer will make the repairs as promptly as weather and schedules permit. A conscientious roofer will never ask for more than the deductible payment up front, since the insurance company will pay out the claim directly. 

Whether tin, steel, tile, shingle, or slate, all types of residential roofs can be repaired so that they provide peace of mind, comfort, and energy efficiency. Please keep in mind, though, that an older roof may have to be repaired with newer parts that do not quite match in color, material weight, or texture. 


Temporary repairs to a storm-damaged roof may mean tarps and battens to prevent further water infiltration. Short-term repairs may mean replacing shingles that do not match your roof’s original shingle color. These may be a little unsightly but will prevent more damage. 

For long-term repairs, expect your local, experienced roofer to return and either replace large sections of storm-torn roofing or recommend a full roof replacement

If storm damage is widespread, or has peeled away a substantial portion of one section of your roof, full replacement may be what both your insurer and roofer recommend. 

Most conscientious roofers will make immediate, emergency repairs and then schedule a time when a new roof replacement can be performed carefully, without the press of time or worries about water leaks. 

Storm Chasers

Unfortunately, every bit of bad weather brings out the storm chasers. These are disreputable Dans in Vans or Chucks in Trucks who have no permanent business address, pick up day crews in parking lots of home improvement stores, and slap on the cheapest roof possible. Their goal is always the same: collect the insurance money and disappear. 

Avoid storm chasers, even when you are panicked over storm damage, by insisting on a local address, a state license number, and customer references.

Roof Rescue is your full-service residential roofer in Idaho, Utah, and Montana. Contact us today if your home has suffered storm damage or you suspect a roofing emergency. We can handle your insurance claim, work with you on small or large repairs, and make your house whole again.