Couple recognized warning signs, saved roof

A Kentwood couple recognized warning signs that their roof may collapse, and so they were able to take preventative action. (Feb. 20, 2014)

KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — Like many homeowners, Gary and Lorraine Zevalkink have watched their roof disappear under blanket after blanket of snow.

Then came the alarming sounds.

“My wife heard the roof crack. She couldn’t understand why,” said Gary Zevalkink.

After watching 24 Hour News 8’s coverage of roof after roof caving in under the weight of all the snow, the Zevalkinks put two an two together. They called Bill Secrest of Secrest Home Improvement to come out and take a look at their roof.

The verdict was not good.

“It did so much damage up there. There’s about three, four spots on the roof [that] didn’t cave in, but it’s starting to crack up there,” Zevalkink said. “The guy that was up there doing the work, he said if we got another snow storm or two, that’d be it — the roof’s going to cave in.”

“As soon as the snow started melting and it could have got a little bit heaver. They were going to have  a cave-in somewhere,” Secrest said.

The damage was done. The roof will have to be replaced.

But at least it’s still standing, which is because the Zevalkinks paid attention to not only the warning signs, but also the warning  sounds.

“You need to listen for cracking or significant creaking in the roof system or in the attic. Things that are out of the ordinary,” said Troy Methner, a Rockford Construction employee who got to know the Zevalkinks when he built a wheelchair-accessible ramp for Gary.

Methner said something as simple as opening the door is another way to determine if there are problems above.

“If you notice that when you’re getting it half way open, it’s releasing from the jam itself but it’s getting stuck in the middle, that means that you’ve got some significant pressure from up there on top that’s jamming this door in place,” Methner said.

“You’ve got your center bearing wall — you can see significant stress cracks here,” he showed 24 Hour News 8, walking to an archway at the center of the Zevalkinks’ home.

He said homeowners can check for stress cracks in their homes .

“You could see them in the corners. You could see them at the header. You could see them anywhere on this bearing wall. You could see them on the outside relief points on your drywall,” Methner pointed out.

If a roof does collapse and no one is hurt, the next thing a homeowner will want to know is how to pay for all the damage.

It appears most homeowners’ insurance policies cover winter roof damage.  The Insurance Information Institute has some tips about what to do in the event of a roof collapse.

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