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Roof Hail Damage: How to Identify It & What to Do Next

When there’s a hailstorm on the horizon, everything in its path is fair game for impact damage. This includes your patio furniture, landscaping, outdoor decor, car, storage containers, exterior siding, windows, and of course, your roofing system.

Hail damage roof issues can be tricky to spot, especially if you don’t know what to look for. Generally speaking, hailstorm damage can vary greatly depending on the size of the hailstones, wind speed, and directionality. What’s more, assessing the damage mostly requires a closer look, which isn’t necessarily feasible from the ground. Plus, it’s never recommended for inexperienced homeowners to climb up on their roofs alone at any time. 

If you’re not up to the task, schedule a roof inspection right away!

But if you’re committed to the task, fortunately, there are several ways to identify hail damage without risking your life, which is important because you want to be 100% sure when filing a homeowners insurance claim should you need repairs. Below, we’ll cover everything homeowners should know about hail damage as well as assessing post-storm hail damage.

Read on to learn more.

Understanding Hailstorms

close up to hail stones

The first thing you’ll need to know when it comes to hailstorm roof damage is how it occurs and why. In other words, you need to get a better understanding of what hailstorms involve.

For starters, hail is a very specific type of precipitation as it consists of solid, jagged ice — aka, hailstones. These hailstones are typically formed within thunderstorm updrafts that are caused by warm air rising to the same levels where condensation begins to form and precipitation begins to develop. Updrafts occur in conjunction with downdrafts, which are the exact opposite as they cause the newly formed precipitation to cool to varying degrees. 

Once the precipitation has cooled enough, it turns from raindrops to hailstones — and these hailstones can range from mild to potentially life-threatening depending on the following factors:

Hailstone Size

Every hailstorm is unique in that it forms hailstones of different sizes. This means the severity of the damage each hail storm causes will also vary as hailstones can range from the size of a pea (which is roughly ¼ of an inch in diameter) all the way to the size of a grapefruit or softball. 

However, smaller hailstones do not necessarily equate to being the safer of the various sizes. Smaller hailstones can still cause their fair share of damage due to being lighter — which means they can travel at more rapid speeds, denting or cracking anything that gets in their way.

Of course, the hailstones that grow to four inches in diameter will undoubtedly cause major damage to your roofing system as they’re more dense and pick up even more speed as they fall.

Hailstone Shape

The shape of the hailstones is also critical to their damage potential. Believe it or not, hailstones are not perfectly round ice spheres. They often vary in shape and are crystallized due to the nature of their formation. Therefore, they always have jagged edges throughout their surface.

These jagged edges are what scratch and pierce your roofing materials, windows, siding, and other outdoor items. They’re especially damaging to asphalt shingles. 

Wind Speed and Direction

The last factors contributing to potential hailstorm damage are the wind speed and direction in which they’re traveling. Wind speed determines exactly how fast the hailstones will travel for a certain period of time, while the direction is self-explanatory as it determines the path the hailstones will take. When combined with the size and shape of the hailstones, wind speed and direction can be the reason your roof suffers major damage or is spared. 

Generally speaking, every two- to four-inch hailstone will have a projected speed of impact that ranges between 44 and 72 miles per hour. This means that higher winds and larger hailstones can be expected to cause major damage to your roofing system.

Understanding How Roof Hail Damage Is Classified

When it comes to hail damage and hail damage roof claims, it’s important to understand that your homeowners insurance company has two distinct classifications for what a hailstorm leaves behind:

  • Functional damage
  • Cosmetic damage

Hail damage is considered functional when it affects the actual performance of your roof and its structure. For example, if the asphalt shingles or flashing on your roof are visibility lifted,  broken, or damaged in any other way that impacts your roof’s structural integrity and ability to protect your home further from the elements, it will be considered functional damage.

Cosmetic damage is classified as surface damage as it only impacts the surface of your roof and the rest of your home’s exterior. While the damage is visible, such as dents or impact marks, it doesn’t keep your roof from functioning properly or stop it from protecting the rest of your home. 

If it’s determined that you only have cosmetic damage to your roof, then your insurance company will most likely deny your claim for a roof replacement or repairs. However, just because your insurance company won’t cover the cosmetic damage doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move forward with the repairs deemed necessary by your roofing contractor.

Cosmetic damage can easily contribute to a speedier deterioration over time. This will undoubtedly weaken your roofing system and become severely damaged during the next few bad weather events.

Understanding Hailstorm Damage to Your Roof

Hail damage to a roof is actually very specific in nature. Once you know what you’re looking at, it’ll be obvious and more easy to spot after the next hailstorm.

If your roof has sustained hail damage, you’ll likely notice

  • Broken, missing, or fractured shingles
  • Shingles with visible cracks running along them
  • Dents and other impact marks on your shingles, chimney, and other areas of your roof
  • Balding shingles from granule loss (which is usually accompanied by dents)

Broken, Missing, and Fractured Shingles

hail stones damaged roofing tiles

In most cases, a moderate to severe hailstorm will cause your shingles to fracture or break off completely. In the more severe cases, you can expect to see completely broken shingles with granules and torn pieces in your gutter system and on the ground. 

Of course, the type of hailstorms that cause this usually involve golf ball to softball-sized hailstones in addition to high wind speeds.

Shingles With Cracks Running Through Them

Hailstones can also cause your shingles to crack but not break off completely. These cracks may be more on the superficial side, running along the surface, or they may imply deeper damage to the body of the shingle. It’s important to understand that cracks can change both the appearance and performance of your shingles, which classifies them as functional damage. 

Eventually, cracked shingles will break off from your roof entirely, exposing the waterproof membrane and roof deck beneath them. When this happens, you’re staring down the barrel of major damages that may require a full roof replacement.

Dents, Impact Marks, and Granule Loss

Dents and impact marks are often the primary indicators of hail damage to a roof. Dents and marks occur when smaller hailstones rapidly hit your roof’s shingles and other components, which means you’ll see them all over your roof and not in just one isolated area. 

You’ll also notice impact marks and dents near the top of your air conditioning vents, chimney, flashing, and virtually everywhere else on your property.

Granule loss is caused by the same rapid fire that hailstones can project with the right wind speeds. The repeated hits can easily break apart the granules of your asphalt shingles, causing bald spots. The granules are the shingle’s first line of defense from the elements. Once they’re gone, the rest of your shingle is fair game for further damage during the next storm.

What to Do When You Have Hail Damage on Your Roof

It’s important to keep in mind that all of the damage that a hailstorm causes can and will lead to water leakage and structural damage throughout your roofing system and within your home. The dents created by smaller hailstones cause your shingles to weaken over time, leaving them vulnerable to everything from sun exposure to the next heavy rainfall or hailstorm.

If you’re sure that your roof has sustained hail damage, the first thing you’ll want to do is get in touch with your local roofing contractor for an inspection. Only an experienced and skilled roofer can properly assess the damage and offer you the necessary guidance regarding a roof repair or replacement. They’re also usually able to support you during the insurance claim process.

Hail Damage Roof Repair: What’s Next?

Usually, the hail damage done to your roof can easily be fixed. However, there are a variety of factors that will determine how the repair process goes. This ranges from the extent of the damage to the age of your roof — which means you could end up needing a complete roof replacement.

That’s why it’s so important to get in touch with your local and trusted roofing contractor to assess the hail damage. A reliable and trustworthy roofer will provide you with a thorough inspection and usually a free estimate that you can use in your insurance claim. 

When your roof has fallen victim to hail damage, you’ll want to call the Shake Guys for help. Get in touch with us today to schedule your roof inspection!

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