Hail damage: Roof inspections critical after hailstorms

Hail damage is a serious concern for homes and businesses in any climate or geography. That includes the Northeast and Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic, Deep South and even Florida.

After a hailstorm, many property owners immediately rush to check on their vehicles. Dented hoods, roofs and trunks, as well as cracked windshields, are the most common damage. Auto body shops can often repair damage in a matter of hours.

However, few homeowners rush outside to check on their roofs, which withstand the full fury of hailstorms. Roofs are durable and built to last. However, roofs aren’t invincible or engineered as bulletproof coats of armor. They are designed to protect structures during normal weather conditions like heat, cold, rain or snow.

Elite Roofing & Restoration is an experienced storm specialist that repairs damage from all types of weather events, including hailstorms. Hail can damage any type of roof: tile, shingle, metal, slate, asphalt and wood shake. That’s why it is important to contact a certified roofing inspector after a hailstorm.

Below are three important facts to know about hail and your roof:

What is hail?

According to the National Weather Service, hail is precipitation that forms when updrafts in thunderstorms carry raindrops upward into extremely cold areas of the atmosphere. It then falls to Earth as ice droplets, or hailstones.

Hail often falls in pebble- or marble-sized chunks, but potent storms can dump hail as large as golf balls, tennis balls and baseballs. The largest recorded hailstone in the U.S. fell in North Dakota, measuring 8 inches and weighing 1.94 pounds. Even Florida’s heat cannot stop hailstones. The NWS notes a 4.5-inch hailstone once fell on the Sunshine State’s east coast.

The NWS notes that hailstones the size of golf balls fall to the ground at about 20 mph. Meanwhile, baseball-sized hail falls around 100 mph. That’s about the top speed thrown by baseball’s top professional pitchers, so it certainly can damage a home.

How hail damage hurts a roof

Hailstones can put unsightly dings, dents and dimples into roofs. These blemishes are beyond cosmetic, though.

On a tile roof, for example, hail can crack clay or concrete tiles. That allows water to penetrate the outer layer of a home’s protection. It’s similar to wearing a raincoat with a small tear; you’ll mostly stay dry, but water will undoubtedly find its way inside. Pieces of broken tiles also can clog gutters and downspouts, prohibiting proper drainage during the next rainstorm.

On a shingle roof, hail can crack the shingle and dislodge protective granules. Cracks can allow water to penetrate the surface and decay shingles, ultimately fostering an environment conducive to leaks. The loss of granules means roofs lose some of their UV protection.

On a flat roof, hail can create dimples. These small divots act as mini-puddles that can hold water. This lack of drainage causes a gradual deterioration of roofing materials. It also contributes to mold growth while providing a breeding ground for mosquitos.

On any type of roof, the impact from hail acts similar to hitting the roof with a hammer. The impact alone can loosen sealants that hold roofing materials in place.

Why hail damage is hard to detect

Hail damage on a vehicle is easy to detect. Vehicle-owners can see and touch the damage.

On a roof, though, homeowners and property managers are relegated to a street view. Depending on a roof’s pitch, the only vantage point may be 20, 30 or more feet from a roofline. Plus, trees or other homes can obstruct roof views.

Elite Roofing discourages homeowners, business owners and property managers from climbing ladders to visually inspect a roof. First, climbing a ladder can be dangerous. Second, standing or walking on a roof is dangerous to both people and the roof. Third, only a certified inspector knows what hail damage looks like. Plus, that initial inspection helps contractors formulate an itemized estimate to repair or replace a roof.

Has a hailstorm been reported in your area? Request a FREE consultation and roof inspection by visiting Elite Roofing & Restoration’s Online Request Portal.