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close up to hail stones on the house roof

Andrew Gasper 7 minutes READ

When you live in an area that experiences hailstorms, you already know that there’s not much you can do to prevent damage. Everything from your landscaping to your roof is fair game, so the real trick is knowing how to identify hail damage and discern it from other types of storm damage. 

The damage that hail storms can cause will vary based on a number of factors, including:

  • The shape of the hailstones
  • The size of the hailstones
  • The wind speed and direction
  • The condition of your existing roofing system

We’ll cover all of that and more below, alongside hail damage roof photos so you know exactly what you’re in for. 

Read on to learn more about identifying hail damage on your roof.

Everything You Need to Know About Hailstorms

close up to hailstones and leaves on the roof

The most important thing you need to understand about hailstorms and the damage they cause to your roof is how these storms form and produce different outcomes. 

Hail storms form when:

  • Warm air rises to a level where condensation begins and precipitation develops during a thunderstorm. This is referred to as a thunderstorm updraft.
  • At the same time the updraft occurs, a downdraft is also occurring, which is when cool air falls through the same path, causing the precipitation to cool to varying degrees
  • When the precipitation cools to the point of freezing, hailstorms are formed.
  • From there, the hailstorms fall to the ground, hitting everything in their path.

Of course, there’s a reason why not all hailstorms are the same. The reason is that hailstones can range from moderate to very dangerous depending on the following variables:

1) The Overall Size of the Hailstones

Hailstones come in many different sizes, which means the severity of their impact on your roof will vary as well. 

Hailstone sizes are measured in inches, and they’re usually associated with certain objects for reference:

  • ¼ inches: Pea size
  • ½ inches: The size of a peanut or mothball
  • ¾ inches: Penny size
  • ⅞ inches: Nickel size
  • 1 inch: Quarter size
  • 1 ¼ inches: Half-dollar size
  • 1 ½ inches: The size of a ping pong ball
  • 1 ¾ inches: The size of a golf ball
  • 2 inches: A lime or medium-sized egg
  • 2 ½ inches: The size of a tennis ball
  • 2 ¾ inches: The size of a baseball
  • 3 inches: A large apple
  • 4 inches: The size of a softball
  • 4 ½ inches: A grapefruit
  • More than 4 ½ inches: This would be considered “record size” and only occurs in certain states like Oklahoma and Texas

As you can imagine, the bigger the hailstone, the more severe the roof damage. However, smaller hailstones can still cause a considerable amount of damage. Since they’re lighter, they tend to have a more rapid velocity, traveling wherever the wind blows them, cracking or denting whatever they hit.

The larger hailstones are typically formed by clouds with a higher density. Not only are they formed bigger, but they pick up more speed as they fall, which is what makes them so dangerous.

2) The Shape of the Hailstones

man holding a large hailstone

Hailstones are also not perfectly round ice spheres, although they would appear that way. They vary in shape and often crystalize, forming jagged edges across their surface, which are only visible when you examine them up close. 

These jagged edges are part of what causes the real roof damage, as they can easily pierce or scratch everything from your asphalt shingles, gutters, siding, windows, and much more.

3) Wind Speed and Direction

Wind speed and direction are other factors that contribute to hail damage roof issues. 

  • The wind’s speed will determine how fast the hailstones will travel through the air
  • Wind direction determines which path the hailstones will take

Every two- to four-inch hailstone will have an estimated speed and impact rating of 44 to 72 miles per hour. Therefore, when you combine these two variables with the size and shape of the hailstones, you could be looking at severe damage to your roof and property. 

What Hail Damage to Roof Systems Look Like

Surprisingly, hail damage is naturally very specific. The most common signs of hail damage to a roof look like:

  • Broken or fractured roof shingles. In most cases, severe hailstorms — the storms that involve half dollar, ping pong, or golf ball-sized hailstones —will cause your shingles to fracture or break. You can expect to find that many of the shingles are completely broken, with pieces all over the ground and in your gutters. It’s also important to note that as your roof ages, it becomes more susceptible to damage. Therefore, an older roof’s shingles may break or fracture even during less significant hailstorms.
  • Shingles that have visible cracks running along their surface. Quarter and nickel-sized hailstones can easily cause cracks in your shingles. The important thing to keep in mind here, of course, is that these cracks can run deep into the body of your shingles. Deep cracks will cause your shingles to eventually break off and expose the waterproof underlayment and roof deck beneath them. Even surface-level cracks will also change both the appearance and performance of your shingles over time.
  • Missing granules, dents, holes, and other impact marks. Dents and Impacts marks are usually the first indicators of hail damage to your roof. Dents and marks typically appear when smaller hailstones hit the surface of your roof at high speeds, which means you’ll see tiny dents all over your roof versus one isolated area. You may also see impact marks and larger dents near the top of your air conditioning vent, roof flashing, and chimney. You’ll also see impact marks on the rest of your home and property, specifically on your windows and vinyl siding.

Classifying Hail Roof Damage

large house roof with hailstorm damage marks on

Another very important part of understanding and identifying hail damage to your roof is learning how your homeowners insurance company will classify it. 

There are two ways in which homeowners insurance companies classify hail damage:

  • Functional damage. Hail damage to your roof will be classified as “functional” when it directly affects the performance of your roof and its overall structure. For example, if your asphalt shingles or flashing are visibly lifted, torn, or broken, then the damage will be considered functional as it can affect your roofing system’s ability to keep your home safe.
  • Cosmetic damage. Hail damage is classified as cosmetic when the damage only affects the surface of your roof or the exterior of your home. This would essentially include small dents and scratches, which won’t necessarily keep your roof from performing as it should.

When there’s only cosmetic damage to your roof, your insurance company will likely deny any roof damage claims for repairs or a total roof replacement. However, cosmetic hail damage should not be ignored as it can contribute to your roof’s deterioration over time. 

If your roof has sustained cosmetic hail damage, you’ll need to:

  • Get in touch with a professional roofer to schedule an inspection immediately
  • Document the hail damage as best as you can to keep for your own records. That way, if another severe storm rolls through, you have evidence of previous hail damage that lead to your roof becoming more vulnerable to damage
  • Schedule any necessary repairs as directed by your roofing contractor to maintain your roof’s integrity  

Taking Care of Hail Storm Damage to Your Roof

In most cases, the hail damage done to your roof by a hailstorm can be easily repaired. However, if the damage is significant, you may end up needing a complete or partial roof replacement. 

That’s why the first thing you want to do is call a local and reliable roofing contractor to come to your home and evaluate the extent of the damage. A trustworthy roofer will always provide you with a free initial inspection as well as a detailed report and an accurate estimate.

The expert team at Palladium Roofing offers quick and thorough storm damage services. Get in touch with us right away if you notice hail damage to your roof or require any other type of roofing services.

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