Can Hail Really Damage a Roof?

Some homeowners may wonder if hail can really damage a roof until they see the effects of a serious hail storm.  Hail that is roughly 1″ in diameter and larger can cause hail damage to roofs, fan or vent covers, skylights and other roofing materials, though if the roofing material is already aged, such as older asphalt shingles, they can be damaged by hail as small as 1/2″ to 3/4″.

Hail damage is one of the more common problems for roofs in parts of the country known for large, damaging hail.  In this Roofing Guide, we’ll share the importance of why inspecting your roof after a hail storm, is a good way to spot signs of damage.

What Roofs Can Be Damaged by Hail?

The American Society of Testing and Materials inspects and rates various roofing materials.  There aren’t any materials that are absolutely hail proof, but some would be called hail-resistant.  The ASTM rates materials from 1 being the weakest, to 4 being the strongest.  Ratings vary from brand to brand and even within types of asphalt shingles.  You’ll have to check the hail-resistance rating of the exact roofing material you are considering using to have an idea of how it will fare in a hail storm.

Metal roofs and concrete tile are generally the most resistant to hail damage.  On the opposite end, inexpensive asphalt shingles and clay tiles are considered the most susceptible to hail damage.  Wood shakes and shingles, quality asphalt shingles and slate fall in the middle.

What Hail Damage Looks Like

Asphalt Shingles: Minor damage involves excessive removal of the ceramic granules coating the shingles.  Keep in mind that these granules loosen with age and normal wear, rain, etc.  If the roof is very new and there is a large amount of granules in gutters when you do a roof inspection, this may be a sign of damage.  It is unlikely an insurance company would cover this sort of damage if no other problems were found.  More severe damage will take the form of dents in the shingles, depressions that can be felt from above as well as below.  If the dents misshape the shingles and reduce their effectiveness, this would be considered hail damage to your roof.  Very heavy hail will tear or dislodge shingles or at least leave large dents without shingle granules.

Ceramic and Concrete tiles: Concrete tiles are a very rugged roofing material, especially newer ones with strength-enhancing additives.  Clay tiles can more easily suffer hail damage.  Inspect the tiles for obvious breaks but also for chips which may worsen in time or small cracks that will let moisture through.

Wood Shakes and Shingles: Wood takes hail pretty well.  If there are small indentations from hail, the wood often regains its original shape and the dents disappear.  If you find split, chipped or dislodged wood shakes or shingles, common problems when hit by heavy hail, those issues would be considered definite hail damage.

Slate: Broken slate shingles can result from large hail driven by high winds.  Look for cracked, split or missing slate when you inspect the roof.  These are the common problems to look for.

Metal Roofing: Only the largest hail is likely to cause any noticeable damage to steel roofs, in the form of dents, while copper roofing may show moderate effects of large hail.

Responding to Hail Damage

If the hail has been severe enough to remove roofing material or alter it so that it may not hold out water, be sure to get a tarp on it as soon as possible if storms are pending.  When possible, fully inspect the roof for the common problems of hail damage.  If you believe you have an insurance claim, call your insurer to report it so an insurance adjuster can inspect your roof.  It is also a good idea to take pictures of damage in order to document the damage.   Then get in touch with a roofer to schedule repairs.  Keep the damaged roof covered until the roofer shows up to do the work.  Hail damage can lead to water getting into your roof and home, causing even more damage, if the original problem is not properly managed.

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