Mother Nature can be unpredictable. Some storms can be intense, with strong winds and heavy rains causing instant and noticeable damage. Other times, storms may be less intense, but still cause damage you might not even think to check for, which can ultimately cause bigger problems later down the road.

It’s difficult to predict how strong a storm will be when it hits,t or how much damage will be caused, so it’s best to beprepared. Here are some of the most common signs of storm damage on homes, so you know what to look for next time your area is hit by severe weather.

A felled tree in a backyward of a home with a branch leaning over a car
Image via Pixabay

What are the most common damages after storms? 

Thunderstorms, hail, blizzards, ice storms, high winds, and heavy rain can develop quickly, with the extent of damage varying, depending on the severity of the storm.

According to Matthew Johnson, a Customer Care Manager for Sonnet Insurance, during a windstorm, the most common damage to look out for are fallen trees, as high winds can cause trees to split in weak spots or cause heavy reaching branches to fall.

“Other damages caused by a storm may be broken windows from flying objects, hail damage, lightning causing the breakdown of appliances from electrical surges, or heavy rainfall causing flooding,” said Johnson.

It’s also important to check and see if there has been any damage to fences on your property and if any hydro wires have fallen near your home. According to Toronto Hydro, if you see a downed powerline, it should be treated as live, as “they may be carrying power that can electrify the ground.” 

If you come across a downed wire, you must stay back at least 10 metres, which Toronto Hydro says is the length of a school bus, and report it to your hydro provider or call 911 immediately.

How can you spot these damages after storms?

Once the storm has ended, and it’s safe to do so, you should go outside and check your property for damage. It’s important to make sure the area is safe, so refer to local news and weather alerts to be certain that there are no more storm hazards.  

While many damages, like a fallen tree, are easier to spot, you may not notice an accumulation of water or a breakdown of appliances following lightning as easily. 

“After a storm, be sure to check for any damages to your windows, in your basement, and appliances,” said Johnson. 

In the lead-up to an expected severe storm, Johnson says you should be checking outside for any tree limbs that could possibly break. 

“Trees are incredibly heavy, so if there’s a large branch reaching over or toward your home, it may be wise to consult an arborist or remove it. Some trees are also at risk of uprooting if winds are too strong, especially those either planted too high out of the ground or those that have started to lean; in these cases, you should again consult an arborist,” said Johnson.

He says residents should also be checking for gatherings of water around their homes. “If the water pools in one location (especially close to your foundation) it can be more likely it enters your home eventually,” explained Johnson. 

A closeup of buildup in an eavestrough/ gutter.

Johnson says gutters can also be clogged, which may prevent proper drainage away from a home. “Since they drain to a specific location, ensure water is not pooling and its draining downgrade away from your home.”

If high winds are expected, bring in any furniture and outdoor accessories that may blow away, such as patio furniture and trampolines. Johnson says it may also be wise to move any barbecue equipment with contained fuels into a storage area to avoid any potential impacts.

“If you own a vehicle and have a garage or carport, consider moving it in ahead of a storm to protect it from the elements and any objects that might potentially be blown by the wind from neighbouring properties,” added Johnson.

Navigating winter storms

In Canada, winter weather can be unpredictable, to say the least. In certain areas, it’s common to see extreme cold, freezing rain, snow squalls, and sunny days with below freezing temperatures all within the same week. 

Unfortunately, drastic changes in weather and temperatures can cause serious damage to your home. Some of the more common issues to look for include ice damming after major freeze/thaw events and ice storms, snow build up on your roof  – which can cause a collapse, – snow build up around your gas meter and vents, which is very hazardous to people living in the home, and frozen pipes, which can lead to standing water inside of pipes to freeze, expand, and then force its way out. 

According to First On Site, some easy ways to prevent damage to your home during severe winter weather is to keep your house slightly warmer than you typically would if you were home to avoid frozen pipes, look out for the formation of large icicles on eaves and roofline to avoid ice damming, and ensuring gutters are clear of debris and heavy compact snow. 

A closeup of a damaged roof shingle due to a storm.

What are some damages people may not think about?

It’s quite common for shingles to be pulled off during a storm, especially if they are older. Given your roof is not something easily monitored, it may be difficult to notice missing shingles. 

However, Johnson says you should look around your home for damage to shingles after a storm. “Having shingles removed can increase the chances of weather damage and water damage to your home.”

When it is safe to do so, take a walk around your home and keep an eye out for damage to house siding, air conditioner units, gutters, and for signs of flooding like pooling water, which can all lead to costly repairs and further damage if not treated promptly.  

A worker cleans up and removes a tree that has been knocked over from a storm
Image via Pixabay

Are there ways to prevent more common damages?

If the storm is severe enough, unfortunately there may be no way of stopping damages from occurring. You can, however, equip your home as best as possible to weather a storm. 

Johnson says stronger storm windows can be installed to help prevent damage from wind, rain, and hail. You can also check the trees around your property and consult your municipality (if the tree is on public property) or by calling an arborist who can help prevent tree-related damages. 

“Really, the best way to combat the storm damages would be to check the surroundings for any potential hazards,” added Johnson.

Taking the time to identify potential damages before and noticeable damage after a storm can save you time and money, especially if the destruction is excessive and requires home repairs or a call to your insurance provider. If there is damage, waiting to repair your home could create more costly problems down the road, so it’s best to deal with them as soon as possible. 


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