There are three important things to remember about hail:
- Hail can occur anywhere there is a threat of severe thunderstorms
- Hail doesn’t cover a city as widely as rain does, often times only portions of thunderstorms produce hailstones. Meaning, you could be at work eating a sandwich while there’s a hail storm 5 miles away without being any wiser.
- If you suspect hail damage to your roof, it’s important to face the issue before your damaged-roof problem escalated to a more costly damaged-roof-and-water-damage problem.
Often times, by the time you’re inspecting a roof for signs of possible hail damage, water has already had the opportunity to leak into your home and cause further damage. This is one of the reasons why we recommend homeowners to sign up for our free hail monitoring service, but more on that later.
If you do suspect roof damage, and not just from hail, there are a number of signs you can look for both with and without getting on your roof.
Whatever signs you do see, be sure to snap a photo to further corroborate any insurance claims you might file later.
What to look for inside
If you’re seeing damaging signs within your home, this means that the hail damage is already quite old and you could be looking at extensive repairs.
You should check all walls and ceilings for water stains and discoloration, typically you’re looking at a yellow, brown or copper color. Be on the lookout for anything that might look like bubbling paint, since this means that water is trapped between the paint and drywall itself. Don’t forget to check smaller spaces such as closets and garages as well.
Hail damage outside
Broken tree limbs
If by chance you are home within a few hours of a hailstorm occuring, you can take a look around your property to see if you can find any broken tree limbs on the ground. Often times if the hail and wind was severe enough to cause tree damage, it’s severe enough to cause roof damage.
Roofing shingles on the ground
A sure sign of damage is finding roofing shingles on the ground. This can happen for a number of reasons, especially if your roof is older. Even if your roof is relatively new, do a quick walk around your property to look for shingles. You never know, the roof could have not been installed properly. It’s always best to be sure.
Dents, cracks, and punctures
While you’re walking around your property, take care to notice of any soft metals such as gutters, AC condensers/heat pumps, outdoor lighting, and even mailboxes have dents or cracks. If you have any outdoor furniture take a look at it as well. It doesn’t hurt to glance over your car as well (though this claim would have to be filed separately with your auto insurer).
If you want to take a look at a full list of what to check, head over to this article. But basically, if it was outside during the storm, take a look. If you do see damage it’ll further corroborate the fact that your roof sustained hail damage as well.
What to look for on your roof
If you found a number of the above, it would be a good idea to go ahead and check the roof for any damage you can visually see. If you’re getting on the roof, be sure to bring a phone or a camera with you to take photos of any damage you see. And of course, please exercise caution.
Spotting hail damage to the shingles themselves is a little difficult to see if you don’t know what to look for. That’s why you should again, first look for any dents or punctures to any metal roof accessories such as gutters, vents, chimney covers, and satellite dishes. Look for punctures in softer roofing materials such as PVC or roof patches.
Damage based on the shingle type
Damage to different shingles doesn’t vary greatly, but it’s good to know what you’re looking for. What does change is their cost, lifespan, and more importantly in this case, resistance to hail damage. Any damage to the shingle itself will cause it to age faster and cause you problems down the line. The most common roof types are: asphalt and composite, wooden/slate, ceramic tile, and metal.
Asphalt & composite hail damage
The largest indicator of damage is missing and/or loose shingles. If shingles are flapping in the wind, they’re considered loose. If you have an older roof (15+ years) look for shingles with curled edges–either upward or downward. This is another sign that the integrity of your roof has been compromised.
If you see cracks or hail hits on shingles then you definitely have damage. Hail hits can displace granules, so take a look in the gutters for missing shingle pieces.
Take a glance into the gutters as well. You might find granules, or pieces of a roofing shingle. This is a pretty good indicator of hail damage.
Metal roofs are considered one of the more impervious roofs when it comes to hail damage. Unlike with other roofing materials, metal will resist hail the same in 50 or more years as it does when it’s new.
Most of the dents you would see as a result from hail would only be cosmetic, the integrity of the roof would still be intact. Sometimes the individual dents can be removed or you can replace or cap over damaged panels with new matching panels.
On the off chance that a truly severe storm passed through, you would see cracking, splitting, rupture, or other evidence of an opening through the roof covering. This would be considered “damaged” by any adjuster or manufacturer.
Some metal roofs are warranted against paint or coating failure (chipping) due to hail, but this is something you would have to take up with the manufacturer.
Clay/Ceramic tiles are also pretty impervious when it comes to hail damage. This damage is usually minimal and pretty easily repaired by homeowners.
Clay tiles are the most susceptible to cracks and chips from hailstones. The damage is usually limited to shallow hairline cracks, however it’s possible for small chips to break off the edges and corners of the tile. Both types of damage can usually be repaired without replacing the tiles. Patch cracks and small chips by filling them with roofing mortar.
Typically, the center of clay tile is more resistant than the edges, but hairline cracks might occur anywhere on the tiles if the hail is large enough.
Clay roof tiles that are cracked through to the bottom or that are missing large pieces must be replaced.
In general, wood roofing becomes more fragile as it ages. Cosmetic damage is usually seen as dents and spatter marks.
Splits in the shingles/shakes should be investigated further. Impact marks at or near the split indicate hail damage. Shingles that are split could be considered performance reducing since they might no longer be secured.
Keep in mind that natural weathering of the shingles/shakes can cause the roof to be more susceptible to damage by smaller hailstones.
Hail Damage: what’s next
If you found what looks like hail damage then the next step is to confirm the date and size of the event. This will help corroborate your claim when you notify your insurance provider about the loss. Lucky for you, there’s an easy way to do this. Just type in your address in our lookup tool and we’ll be able to specify the exact date and size of the hail event.
You can have a reputable roofing contractor come out and provide you with a free assessment (but be sure you don’t sign anything!) but if you’ve checked the event with WeatherCheck and we say you should file, you can go ahead and do so.
Get WeatherCheck, it’s free!
If you’ve come this far, we recommend you sign up with our free hail monitoring service. We’ll monitor your address for any damaging hail and send you a notification only when damaging hail occurs. More importantly, we’ll help you decide what you need to do with the information. If the hail was severe enough to file a claim or if your roof was impacted at all.