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The Midwest is no stranger to high winds or hailstorms, but hail damage isn’t always something homeowners consider could affect a roof. After all, your roof is meant to protect you from harsh weather. However, the fact is that even hail the size of a penny can do some serious damage to your property.

While you might expect hail damage to crack windows or dent the hood of your car, asphalt, wood, clay, and even concrete roofing materials are all susceptible to hail damage. Roof hail damage often appears minor, but if left unchecked, it can cause leaks, ice dams, rotting wood, electrical issues, and fires. Not to mention it can seriously devalue your home.

That said, looking for hail damage can be tricky. It isn’t nearly as obvious as a tree falling on your house. In addition, navigating insurance claims to repair your roof can be even more difficult.

Severe hailstorms will damage your property in ways you won’t always be prepared for, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. That’s why it’s important to understand how hail damages your roof and what you can do to repair it.

How hail damages your roof

The severity of roof hail damage typically depends on the size of the hail, wind speed, and the material of your roof. With enough force, hail impact can shatter roofing materials like clay or concrete. Let’s look at a few common ways hail can damage your roof and how each one of them may affect your home.

Cracked, split, or curved shingles

In order to crack or split your shingles, large hail has to strike your roof fairly hard. However, the integrity of your roof also depends on your shingle material.

If cracked, this type of hail damage could cause leaks and weaken the overall integrity of your roof.

In some cases, high impact hail or strong winds will bend your shingles upward on one corner. Water can then seep underneath the shingle and cause leaks and rot over time.

Loose / missing granules

Granules are the small pieces of crushed stone that are embedded in the surface of most asphalt shingles. Hail impact can blast these away, creating bare spots without granule protection. Even smaller hail can knock granules loose so that they are blown off by strong winds. While this may not seem like a serious problem, this is often where homeowners don’t realize the potential for damage.

Granules protect your roof from excessive exposure to sunlight. When granules are stripped off or knocked loose from your shingles, this exposes your roof to heat and UV rays that can quickly deteriorate the asphalt. With other things like wind, rain, and perhaps more hailstorms, a roof with few granules will likely begin leaking if those shingles are not replaced soon after the storm.

Sometimes, granules can also get into your downspouts and clog up your gutters. Aside from causing mold and moisture problems from improper runoff, clogged gutters can also cause flooding and foundation problems over time.

Broken or exposed asphalt/fiberglass mat

Some hail may strike your roof hard enough that it breaks through the granules to the material underneath. If the fiberglass mat or other underlying material is punctured or exposed to the weather, further deterioration and leaks are soon to follow. While this type of damage may cause obvious discoloration, sometimes a cracked fiberglass mat will require a more experienced professional to identify it.

Compromised seals

You may find a torn seal between or underneath your shingles. Sometimes, a broken seal may be nearly invisible while still allowing water to seep through, eroding your roofing materials and plywood. Broken seals can also loosen shingles so that they are dislodged by wind, heavy rain, or another hailstorm.

Hail size and damage

The extent of your property damage after a hailstorm largely depends on the size of the hail and how fast it hits your house. If you know from your local weather station that a hailstorm is headed toward your area, take note of the estimated hail size and the wind speed.

Typically, as hail increases in size, there is a higher potential for severe damage. However, high speed winds will often increase the impact of any size hail on your roof (force = mass x acceleration). You can use this information to gauge the likelihood of any property damage after a storm.

Hail size comparisons

  • ¾” – 1” Hail (Pennies to Quarters) – Typically, this won’t cause much damage. But it may destroy plants and dent some fixtures depending on wind speed.
  • 1-¼” Hail (Half Dollar) – At this size, you may find minor cracks in your roof or siding.
  • 1-½” Hail (Ping Pong Ball) – Hail this size will likely cause moderate to severe damage to your shingles and underlying wood.
  • 1-¾” Hail (Golf Ball) – Golf ball-sized hail has a high potential for damage. It will likely strip paint, dent cars, and break glass. Watch for dented, cracked or even punctured roofing materials.
  • 2” and higher (Pool Ball to Baseball) – Hail the size of billiard balls or larger will almost certainly cause damage to your roof and the rest of your property. You may not always need a full replacement afterward, but you will want to assess the damage and fix it as soon as possible.

Once the storm passes, prepare to have your roof inspected by a trusted roofing company. Once again, be sure to look closely at the minor damage. Small dents, cracks, tears, or even bent shingles can expose your roof to harmful UV rays. If ignored, widespread minor damage can quickly progress and potentially cause multiple leaks all at once across your roof.

How to inspect for hail damage

While it’s best to get a professional home inspection, there are other ways you can assess the likelihood of hail damage on your own.

Start from the ground

If you find hail damage to other areas of your property, your roof was probably damaged as well. Check the metal on your mailboxes, cars, gutters and downspouts for dents or scratches. Look for damage to plants, yard decorations, and windows.

You can also look for clogged gutters, as it may be a sign that granules were knocked loose from your shingles and have become lodged in the downspout. You can also check for tears in your siding, dents on your trees, and of course any fallen shingles laying in the yard.

You might also ask your neighbors if their roofs were damaged during the storm.. If the house next door sustained hail damage, it is unlikely that your roof survived the storm unharmed.

Survey your roof

For a thorough hail damage assessment, you will need to call a roofing company to inspect your entire roof. Part of this is for safety reasons (walking out on a potentially damaged roof is dangerous). Aside from that, professional roofers know what to look for and can accurately advise you on necessary repairs. Luckily, many roofing companies offer inspections for free.

However, you can also survey your roof from the top of a ladder. Doing so may help you understand more about what is discovered during the inspection.

How can you spot the damage? It depends on what type of roof you have. When looking directly at an asphalt roof, you look for dents that appear as black spots without granules. You may also see bent shingles, discoloration, tears and scratches. Your chimney and roof vents may also have visible damage.

With a wood shingled roof, cracks or dents may be noticeable as orange or tan discoloration (depending on the material). Cracks in wood shingles are sometimes harder to spot because they don’t always splinter out or fray at the ends. Sometimes you have to be close up to wood shingles to spot thin fractures.

Most often, hail-damaged metal roofs will have multiple dents, lumps, bent edges, warped seals, and even holes.

Clay or concrete shingles are more susceptible to cracks because they are stiff. If hail impact is strong enough to dent an asphalt roof, it will likely crack or even shatter a clay or concrete shingle. Other times, you might spot holes, missing shingles, or dents with cracks around them.

Surveying your own roof ahead of time (from a ladder) can also help you spot false damage that appears after the inspection. After severe storms, some con artists may fake or even cause false hail damage in neighborhoods that are most likely to be affected. Then they will perform crude repairs and take off with your money. That’s why it’s important to contact a roofing company with good reviews to do your inspection.

That said, be aware that most hail damage short of a crack, tear, or missing shingle can be hard to photograph. Dents in asphalt shingles don’t always show up in high enough contrast to display the full scope of the damage in a picture. For this reason, roof inspectors and roofers will often circle dents or underline scratches in chalk, which washes off in the rain.

Although minor damage may not look very severe in the chalked-up inspection photos, don’t ignore damage like this when it comes to shingles, roof vents, or anything else on your roof.

Repairing a hail damaged roof

Now that you understand how hail can damage your roof and what to look for during an inspection, how can you fix it? Unless you decide to do it yourself, you will likely want to contact a trusted roofing company to complete repairs.

Often, repairing a hail damaged roof is more of a replacement process. The question is whether or not you need to replace a portion of your roof or the entire thing.

While trying to patch up damaged shingles is never a good idea, you may be able to simply replace a section of the damaged shingles with new ones. However, a 10 square foot space with 20 or more damage spots often calls for a completely new roof.

An average new roof in Chicagoland can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 for the whole project. This obviously depends on the square footage of your roof, the material of the shingles, and how much of it you need to replace. To break that down, you’ll likely pay about $5.50 to $8.50 per square foot to replace your asphalt/fiberglass roof.

If you have homeowners insurance that covers tree and hail damage, your policy will likely pay for some if not all of the repairs. However, it’s important to take advantage of this benefit as soon as possible. It is common for insurance policies to impose a statute of limitations on your claim. This usually requires you to file a claim within one year of when you determine your roof damage is a direct result of hail impact. After you have a roof inspection, don’t delay in contacting your insurance company.

That said, your coverage will definitely vary by policy and the state you live in. Pay attention to the details of your coverage and your local laws. Your insurance may have a statute of limitations that is different from the norm. Otherwise, the money you get from your payout may be applied to repairs in different ways. You will also probably need to provide documentation about the repair job, such as an invoice and/or proof that the repairs were completed.

Final thoughts

Hail damage is never fun to think about, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Paying attention to your home and taking the proper actions after a major storm in a timely manner can prevent leaks and extend the life of your roof for years to come.

However, keep in mind that even minor shingle damage is nothing to ignore. Anything that compromises the integrity of your roofing materials is better off being replaced as soon as possible.

Being that some roof damage can be difficult to spot without a trained eye, it’s best to contact a roofing company to inspect your home as soon as possible after a hailstorm. Be sure to read reviews and contact a roofing company you trust to do the job right. A professional contractor can help you see the hail damage for yourself and advise you on the proper course of action.

At Baltic Roofing, we’ll inspect your roof thoroughly for hail damage and tell you the truth about what repairs you need. We can repair portions of your roof or replace the entire thing for you if necessary. We’ll even work with your insurance company to help you get the money you deserve to complete the repairs and get back to normal life. Contact us for a roof inspection today.

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