Midwest Lifetime Roof Systems — Stone-Coated Steel Roofing, Lasts a Lifetime

Midwest Lifetime Roof Systems - Stone-Coated Steel Roofing, Lasts a Lifetime

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Its composed of water, the most common of elements. It propagates some ten miles away and grows to perhaps three ounces in weight. It accelerates up to 80 miles an hour. Once its mission is complete, it vanishes almost as quickly as it appeared.

It is hail, among the most lethal weapons in natures considerable arsenal. And nothing comes close to the pain and devastation that it wreaks each spring and fall as it cuts across the belly of America.

In the spring of 2003, hailstorms struck neighborhoods large and small across Texas, Kansas and Missouri. Within a few short weeks, that first series of spring storms had caused hundreds of millions in property damage to homes and businesses.

They wrecked thousands of vehicles, many of them brand new on the lot. So hard were the hailstones that pounded Dallas Fort Worth International Airport that American Airlines was forced to take 60 aircraft out of service and cancel 121 flights.

In the worst-hit areas, the hailstorms punched through roofs and windows and skylights, tore through car windows and carefully tended gardens. Their driving winds ripped open the fabric of buildings to expose and wreck whatever was left inside.

For the insurance industry, hailstorms remain a continuing nightmare of skyrocketing premiums and diminishing returns, of a diminishing pool of companies willing to stay involved in home insurance.

In the late 1990s, insurers moved to break the cycle, to steer homeowners away from roofs that while less expensive, were more easily damaged by hail.

The result was collaboration with Underwriters Laboratories that produced the nations first hail standard, UL 2218. Essentially a method of classifying roof materials by their hail resistance, the UL standard designated the least resistant as Class 1 and graded roofs up to Class 4 for best resistance.

But it left significant loopholes. Manufacturers are not required to hail test their roofs, nor make public their hail ratings even if they do test them. Further, testing of roof materials is confined to new products. As roof material strength and integrity tends to decline steeply with age, a materials UL rating on todays packaging can be very different from the rating on the roof ten, or even five, years from now.

On the plus side, however, and under pressure from the Texas Department of Insurance, insurers introduced discounted premiums where homeowners installed hail resistant roofs. For such excellent performers as stone-coated steel tile, shake and shingle, discounts now amount to some 35%.

There are homeowners willing to put up with the constant threat of hail, says Russ Earnhart at Gerard Roofing Technologies. They think its just part of life to deal with their wreckage-strewn homes, vehicles and gardens after every hailstorm. Those people are finding insurance harder to get and more expensive to buy.

Frankly, theyre not going to get much help from the roofing industry either. Wheres the incentive for roofers to promote hail-resistant roofs when so much of their business is replacing the roof they replaced five years ago?

In the end, it comes down to what homeowners are prepared to do for themselves, says Earnhart. To those of us who are interested in a roofs ability to handle any kind of wind and weather for a very long time, the smartest thing you can do is get a stone-coated steel roof.

Importantly, building and fire experts now concede that stone-coated steel roof installations improve safety not only against such outside threats as hail, but the most common threat to the inside of homes, fire.

In late winter 2003, a fire in an upscale Colorado apartment complex got out of the firebox and into the surrounding wall studs. Burning upwards, it quickly reached the old wood shake roof and joists. But it was here, according to fire investigator reports, that the fire was stopped in its tracks.

A stone-coated steel tile from the Gerard company, installed just months previously directly over the shake, effectively starved the fire of oxygen. While investigators believe the fire burned for almost two hours before being discovered and reported, damage to the structure was restricted to a 12 by 12 section.

Midwest Lifetime Roof Systems - Stone-Coated Steel Roofing, Lasts a Lifetime

This is the most common installation for steel tile, shake and shingle from California to Florida, says Earnhart. Applying the new roof directly over old wood shakes or asphalt shingles saves thousands in tearoff and dumping costs. In Texas, Earnharts advice has been taken thousands of times often right after the latest hailstorm.

Jeff Pruett, for instance, got plenty of warning about the massive hailstorm that struck his neighborhood in Plano on Saturday, April 5. He heard the predictions of damage to roofs and automobiles, and got a lot of advice about covering windows and plants.

Pruett did nothing.

After a hailstorm three years ago, Pruett replaced his damaged wood shingle with a Gerard stone-coated steel tile, one of few roofs available today that comes with a written guarantee against hail. When the storm came through on April 5, 2003, I did exactly what I needed to do, he says. I watched TV.

Jeff Pruett is a one of thousands of Gerard homeowners (he owns another Gerard-roofed rental nearby) in DFWs infamous hailstorm alley. Each spring and fall, as Texans brace themselves for the rash of storms like the one that cut a swath of damage across north Dallas Fort Worth this spring, Jeff Pruett relaxes.

So does Joan Tormey. It was an incredible noise, like the world was coming to an end, says Tormey, who huddled with her dogs when the storm tore through Plano. The whole house was pounded by hail the size of quarters. Outside, trees and flowers were destroyed, but we didnt worry about the house at all. We had a Gerard shake roof installed three years ago because of hail and wind. On April 5, it kept me and the dogs safeand the hail didnt leave so much as a mark on it.

We cant stop the weather, says Jacob Horn, owner one of the states largest roofing companies. But with these stone-coated steel roofs, we can sure cut the losses. The Texas storm, the first of the season, is estimated to cause $100,000,000 in property damage; fortunately, there were no fatalities.

Mark Rieths home was reroofed with a Gerard stone-coated steel tile back in 1994 and an addition in 1999. Two weeks ago, he was out of the house when the storm struck the neighborhood of north Dallas where he lives. We had golf ball-sized hail that did some serious damage to my car, but our roof was untouched, he reflects. I wish my Mercedes had a roof as hail resistant as that Gerard roof.

2007 Midwest Lifetime Roof Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.


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