Heavy or persistent hail can damage asphalt roof shingles in ways that aren’t obvious. They may look fine from even a short distance, and you won’t necessarily experience a leak. But cumulative damage over time can reduce their effectiveness, and they’ll eventually let water through. A professional inspection will tell you whether you need repairs from hail damage.

How hail affects roofs

A hailstorm is one of nature’s most frightening weather forces. Hailstones come in many sizes. Vivian, South Dakota holds the record for the largest hailstone ever measured, at 1 pound 15 ounces and a diameter of 8 inches. Hailstones of an inch or two aren’t rare in the state. Doubling the size of a hailstone means it weighs eight times as much; big hailstones are heavy and can cause serious harm. They can fall at speeds up to 100 miles per hour.

It’s unusual for hailstones to punch holes through shingles, but they can do damage in other ways. More common is functional damage to the granule layer. The shingles look intact but don’t do their job as well.

Shingles are covered by a layer of granules, made from crushed rock and ceramic material. They protect the asphalt layer from damage. Without them, the asphalt would crack or split in a few years. Weather gradually wears the granule layer down, and hail can damage it seriously.

A severe hailstorm will leave roughly circular marks on shingles. Granules are knocked off, exposing the asphalt to sun and weather. When the asphalt cracks, water will get through. This won’t happen right after the storm but could happen unexpectedly later on.

Patterns of hail damage are unpredictable. The wind pushes hailstones in all directions. The side of your roof exposed to the prevailing winds is the most vulnerable. However, hail can swirl around and pummel any part of the roof.

Granule loss happens naturally over time. If the wear is even over all the shingles, it’s probably not from hail. The presence of roughly circular bald areas is a sign that hail has knocked the granules off.

Other types of damage

Severe storms can cause more immediate harm to roofs. Hail can dislodge, tear, or puncture shingles. The effects are likely to be obvious. Prompt repairs will be needed to prevent water damage.

The asphalt coating or the fiberglass mat can be dented. Dents weaken the shingle and may let water pool and freeze.

Shingles can lift because of hail damage or other reasons. Cycles of hot and cold weather can loosen them over the years. Wind can lift or damage shingles over a long time. Wind and heat can finish the job which hail started.

The importance of checking for damage

You have the best chance of a successful insurance claim if you have your roof professionally checked soon after a storm. If it becomes obvious a couple of years later, it will be hard to pinpoint the source. Adjusters may call it normal wear and tear.

A slow leak can damage a ceiling before it becomes serious enough to spot. Fixing the problem after that will be more expensive.

Most kinds of damage to shingles are hard to spot from the ground. If your roof has taken a beating from a big hailstorm, having it inspected for damage is prudent.

When you contact us for an estimate, we will give your roof a thorough examination, identifying any current sources of trouble or issues that may become problems in the foreseeable future. We will work with your insurer to get your claim covered. If your roof needs repair or replacement, we’ll give you a fair estimate. If there are no problems, we’ll say so.