Hail Damage and Your Roof

When a hailstorm comes out of nowhere, you probably feel safe inside your house. While you’re safer in the shelter of your home than you would be in a car or exposed to the elements, your roof can still be significantly damaged in a hailstorm. Find out how to prevent damage from hail, how to know if your roof has been affected and what you should do if hail hits your home.

What Affects Hail Damage

Hailstorms can vary in severity. If hailstorms are accompanied by heavy winds, you may be more likely to experience damage to the sloped areas of your roof as the hail hits at an angle. Flat roofs can be more significantly damaged by hail that falls straight down.

The larger the hail, the more potential there is for damage. Softball-size hail can go right through the roof, while hail that’s the size of a golf ball can create dents and dings in roofing material.

The materials that your roof is made of also affect the extent of the damage that hail can cause. Asphalt shingles tend to absorb the impact better, but they may show dents after a hailstorm. So can aluminum roofing and gutters. Vinyl and wood siding can crack from the impact of hail. Materials that have already been compromised by extreme weather may be more susceptible to damage.

How Do You Know If Your Roof Has Been Damaged?

Hail damage may not be immediately obvious. Different surfaces react differently when they’re hit by hail.

If you have asphalt and composition shingles, you may witness haphazard dents in the material. It will not look like an obvious pattern. The areas that have been hit by hail may appear darker in color.

These types of shingles are covered with a granular texture. Hail can remove the granules, exposing the felt underneath. You may not notice missing granules by inspecting your roof from the ground. One telltale sign is seeing the granules accumulate in your gutter.

If the asphalt appears shiny, this could be an indication that the granules have been removed as well. If you touch the areas where the hail has damaged the roof, they may feel soft instead of hard and stiff. Any areas that have lost their protective granular cover are more susceptible to damage from everyday elements, like sun, wind and rain.

If your home has wood shingles, you may also notice random damage from the hail. You will not necessarily notice a uniform array of hail strikes. A split in the shingle may appear brown or rust colored. A split that results from hail will be sharp at the edges. It won’t appear to be eroded or deteriorated. You may also notice impact spots along the areas where the shingles have split.

Roofs experience regular wear and tear that can result in deterioration that looks like hail damage. If you see shiny spots or missing granules on an asphalt shingle, it hasn’t necessarily been struck by hail. Blistering, cracking and flaking can be caused by weather extremes and sun exposure.

Myths About Hail Damage

Some people believe that if they don’t see visible damage, their roof has not been affected. The truth is that a professional who is experienced in identifying hail damage will be the best person to examine a roof for evidence of impact.

If you don’t experience any leaks or moisture inside the house, don’t assume that your roof has not been struck. A qualified professional should inspect the home for areas that may have been compromised and could lead to leaks down the road.

Many homeowners think that a newer roof is less likely to undergo damage from hail. New roof materials need time to cure. In some cases, an older roof is able to withstand the intense impact better than a new roof.

How To Prevent Hail Damage

Your roof is one of the most vulnerable areas of your home. It may already have been damaged from previous storms, years of exposure to sunlight and heavy winds. Inspect your roof regularly for missing shingles, areas of deterioration and brittle, flaking shingles. It’s a good idea to examine it before a storm season as well as after a major storm.

Prevent potential damage by maintaining your roof and landscaping. Keep your trees trimmed. Remove dead branches that could make an impact with your roof during a storm. However, note that an adequate tree cover can also protect your roof from hail.

Make sure that your attic is properly insulated. Any heat seeping up through the roof after a hail or ice storm can melt the ice. However, if the weather is cold enough, the water can freeze again quickly, creating an ice dam and causing water buildup.

If you live in an area that is prone to hail, you may want to consider using impact-resistant material for your roof. Consumer Reports tests and rates roofing materials based on their ability to withstand impact, among other things. You may have to hire a special installer or place a special order for certain materials. However, if your house is pummeled by many hailstorms, you’ll make up the expense over the years.

What To Do If Your Roof Is Damaged By Hail

Don’t wait for the damage to produce severe signs. If you wait for your roof to leak, you may have to deal with bigger issues, like mold and electrical problems.

If you suspect that your roof has been damaged by hail, hire a professional to inspect it. You should also contact your insurance company to notify them of the damage. Any claims for a roof that has been damaged by hail must be approved by your insurance company. You should find out what is covered before hiring someone to repair or replace your roof.

Contact a few state-licensed contractors to give you a proposal on repairs. An insurance adjuster will also inspect your roof. Present the contractor’s proposal to the insurance adjuster. You’ll be able to give the insurance company’s report to the contractor to make sure that the replacement value for materials matches up adequately.

You should always be the liaison between the contractor and the insurance company. Don’t pay the contractor before you receive your compensation from the insurance company. Do not allow the insurance company to pay the contractor directly.