Hailstorms continue to increase in frequency and intensity in the United States. Just in 2019, more than 7.1 million U.S properties experienced damage from one or more hail events. And in 2020 alone, NOAA Severe Weather Database documented 4,590 large hail events. As the first line of defense against Mother Nature's wrath, it's necessary for a roof to be able to protect your home from the elements, hail included.

Sometimes it is easy to identify signs of hail damage on a roof such as missing shingles, cracked tiles and dented metal; however, hailstorm damage is frequently left unreported because the homeowner doesn't see any clear signs of harm.

After the storm, a professional hail inspection is highly recommended. While homeowners can complete an initial inspection by walking around the property and looking for obvious signs of hail damage, roofing contractors are experienced with identifying problems above and below the surface of your roof. Below are some tips for identifying hail damage and when to call a contractor.

What size hail damages a roof?

Hail comes in a range of sizes. It can be as small as a pea and as large as a golf ball, and even a softball! But what size hail damages a roof? It depends on the roofing material and the age of the roof.

Hail typically needs to be the size of a golf ball before it is capable of breaking through, but if there are high winds along with the hail, or if the storm lasts longer than a few minutes, even small hail can cause damage to a roof by removing protective granules. Without the granules, the shingles are exposed to UV rays from the sun, which can deteriorate the shingle and shorten the roof's life over time.

How to Tell If My Roof Has Hail Damage

Wait until the storm is over to check for signs of damage on your roof. Some signs of destruction are identifiable from the ground, such as dents in gutters and downspouts, air conditioners, decks and siding. Other damages are harder to identify and either require getting on the roof or hiring a trained professional.

Different roofing materials will exhibit damage from hail in varying ways. Below are some of the common identifying symptoms from hail on the most popular roofing materials:

    Metal Roofs - Hail can cause dents in the metal panels, vents and flashing. The seams can tear or peel, and white marks are often left from where the hail chipped the roof coating.

    Composition and asphalt shingles- shingles - Granule loss, cracks in the shingles and shiny or black impact marks are common after a hailstorm. The fiberglass mat can be exposed or fractured. Sometimes, shingles will bruise or have cracks that radiate out from the impact site of the hail.

    Clay and concrete tiles - - Chipped, broken or shattered tiles are often the result of a hailstorm. Tiles can also be broken at the edges, gouged and have star-shaped fractures from where the hail struck.

    Wood shingles - - Wood will commonly split or crack down the middle of the shingle when damaged by hail, which can be identified by looking for red or orange splits in the shingle. Wood that is naturally red will eventually turn gray on the outside due to weathering and oxidation, so when the shingle splits, the natural color of the shingle is exposed. The shingles can also be dented or have splatter marks on the wood.

What to Expect From a Hail-Damaged Roof Inspection

If your roof suffers from hail damage, a roof inspection is necessary. After a severe storm, many homeowners will call an insurance adjuster. It's highly recommended that you get a second opinion from a roofing professional. Oftentimes the contractor will agree with the findings from the insurance company's inspection, but they might disagree too.

A contractor is trained and experienced to identify roofing issues. For this reason, a roofing professional may find small cracks or lifted shingles that the adjuster overlooked. If a contractor conducts the inspection, the homeowner will receive a detailed report of the findings, in addition to a customized plan to repair or replace any of the affected areas.

Whoever conducts the roof inspection should look for the following:

  • Weakened roof seals
  • Tears or holes in the protective cover of the roof
  • Split or damaged shingles
  • Missing shingles
  • Granules removed from the protective coating
  • Tile uplift of more than one inch

How to Tackle Repairs After a Hail Inspection

After a hailstorm, roof repairs are likely needed. These repairs can be as simple as replacing one shingle and getting dents out of the gutters or reroofing the whole house. This is why it's important to contact a roofing professional to perform a hail inspection and complete the repairs.

If the roof suffers extreme damage, it might be time to consider changing roofing materials to a more durable option that will not only protect your home during the next storm, but also improve your home's energy efficiency.

When looking for a roofing material, ensure it has a Class 4 rating, which is an impact standard used to rate materials such as shingles and metal. The Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a not-for-profit testing organization, provides information that helps consumers make informed decisions about various products. They developed the UL 2218 Impact Rating to test the impact resistance of roofing materials. Shingles are rated Class 1 through 4, with 4 being the highest resistance and the highest level of protection against hailstorms, which results in lower insurance premiums and lifetime roof costs, in addition to fewer roof repairs and replacements.