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How Can I Tell If I Have Hail Damage To My Roof?

I received a call from a local realtor this past week asking how to identify hail damage to her roof. It seems a recent hail storm passing through the area brought out the “roof inspectors” enmasse, many of whom were knocking on her door. We talked for a while about the storm, the aftermath, and the best ways to enlist the help of professionals to identify and repair roof damage.

My advice was two-fold as I have described below:

  • Identifying true ‘functional’ hail damage, the kind the insurance company will be willing to pay to have repaired or replaced, can be a little tricky. Insurance companies will be determining if damage is recent, past, or a combination of multiple incidents over the life of the current roofing material.
  • Hail damage will usually dent the soft metals on your roof, i.e. roof vent, exhaust caps, before fracturing shingles. Check the vinyl trim around your windows. Also, check the cooling fins of the exterior A/C condensing unit.
  • Hail damage is rated in terms of degrees of damage; bruising, granule loss, edge removal, wood spliting, and fracturing of the asphalt underlayment. Granular loss alone usually does not qualify for replacement of the roof.
  • Newer shingles obviously hold up better than older shingles, which have been subjected to natural elements a longer period of time.
  • Shingle damage is partly determined by the strength of the substrate below the shingle. A more structurally sound decking will not flex as much during impact, thus lessening the damage to the shingle.
  • The slope or pitch of your roof and the direction of the storm may result in hail damage to one side of your roof and not the other. Perpendicular impacts will cause the most damage.
  • When installing a new roof, know the rating of your shingle. Class 1 is least hail resistant, Class 4 is most resistant.

As for what to do when you suspect you may have hail damage to your roof?

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  • Contact your insurance agent. They will be very aware if the area in which you live was the victim of a recent storm. Your insurance company will want you to tell them the date you believe your home was affected.
  • Confirm with historical resources like Weather Underground of the existence and intensity of a storm traveling through your neighborhood.
  • Should a roofing company come knocking on your door after a storm and you are unsure if you have damage, be cautious. I would instead, ask my insurance agent or adjuster for a recommendation after they have confirmed that I in fact have damage. Or, do my own research and choose the company I like once I’ve confirmed references. Doing a little homework will always pay dividends when it comes to roof replacement.

Also, know that roofing materials are becoming very high tech. We recently featured on this blog a story about plastic shingles, looking like slate, and being guaranteed for 50 years!