How to Inspect a Roof for Hail Damage: A DIY Guide — Roof Online


When a roof is hit by a hailstorm, the effects on the roof can range from being negligible to being so significant that they demand emergency repairs. Some signs of the storm can be vividly apparent; for example, broken windows, tiles that have fallen off the roof, or large dents in metal roof components. But to find less obvious damage, close inspection with a certain level of knowledge is needed. Any damage, major or minor, means immediate action is required because hail damage is terrible for roofs and can turn the house into a faulty structure with leaks and other issues. Hailstorms may not be the most devastating kind of natural disaster, but they are the most common. An unexpected amount of damage can be caused to your roof, siding, windows, gutters, and decks depending on factors like the size of the hail, the speed and direction of the wind, the types of material, the age of the materials, the slope of the roof, and the quality of the construction.


Roofing contractors are usually contacted to evaluate the extent of the damage. At the same time, it is always wise to have some basic knowledge about roof damage and the possible impacts of a hailstorm. This allows you to double-check the contractor’s estimate, or even make an accurate assessment of the scope of the damage for yourself.


Let’s Understand the Size of Hail and its Impacts

The size of the hail could be your first indicator of the extent of the damage after a hailstorm. Though it doesn’t give the whole picture, understanding the possible effects of different sizes of hail is a great starting point.

  • ¾” hail is the smallest hail likely to cause damage. Depending on the speed of the wind, it can harm vinyl siding, windows, paint on decks, gutters, and the granule surface of shingles.

  • 1” hail might cause bruises in shingle underlayment and harm to the fascia, gutters, and siding, and cause other roof problems. Wind speed determines the extent of the damage.

  • 1 ¼”-1 ½” hail might cause significant damage. Severity depends on the duration of the storm and wind speed.

  • 1 ¾”-2” hail can pierce the softer parts of the roof, tear off siding, crack tiles, break windows, and damage metal fixtures.

  • 2” and above sizes of hail are extremely serious and will likely cause severe damage to the property. You will need emergency inspection and professional repairs.


What Does Hail Damage Look Like?

Damages can be functional and/or cosmetic in nature. “Functional hail damage” denotes the damage that affects the integrity and longevity of the roof, while damage that affects the appearance but not the performance of the roof is referred to as “cosmetic hail damage”.

Specific damages after a hailstorm can run from small cracks to major splits or tears. You need to see the damaged areas to gauge the severity.

Loss of granules on asphalt shingle roofs: When a shingle loses granules, the asphalt that makes up the waterproofing layer of the shingle is exposed to UV rays and is at risk of accelerated aging. Look for areas that are darker than the rest of the roof surface.

Cracks and bruises in asphalt shingles: This is caused by hard hail and high winds during the hailstorm. There could also be broken corners, tears at the end of shingles, splits, and bare spots or black dots on the roof.

Impacts on other roof types: Other roof types like wood shake or shingle, clay or concrete tile, slate, and metal roofing can also suffer hail damage. Hail can cause wood shingles to split, tile and slate roofing to have cracks or gouges, and metal roofing to have dents. 

Impact marks or dents: There may be dents and impact marks on the exposed parts of the roof, siding, and metal fixtures.

Exposed and fractured fiberglass mat: If a shingle’s top layer of asphalt is shattered, the fiberglass mat underneath will be exposed. There could be cracks or tears in the mat. This is more likely to happen on colder days.

Weakened self-seal strip: Hail can compromise the integrity of the self-seal strip, which increases the chances that the shingles will eventually blow off.


Once you know what to look for, you are in a better position to evaluate your roof after a hailstorm. Depending on the presence of one or more of these signs and their severity, you might simply need some small repairs, or you could need a full roof replacement.


Places to Look for Signs of Damage

Gutters: The first and easiest place to look for damage signs are the gutters. Gutters and/or downspouts might be dented after a high-impact hail storm. Another common result of a hailstorm is a build-up of loose granules from the shingles in the gutters. These granules can easily clog the gutters and cause them to overflow. Overflowing gutters after a hailstorm is a sign of a damaged roof.

Siding: The second place to look is the siding. If there are serious damages on the roof, then the siding on the house, the windowsills and casings, and any exposed metal surfaces like metal fascia will likely be dented or have spots of missing paint.

Decks: Another place to check are decks. If there are damage signs on the deck or chipped paint on other surfaces around the home, this also points to potential shingle damage. 

Check outdoor items like air conditioners as well; signs of damage can also be found on sheds, patio covers, and porches.

Finding (and documenting) signs of hail damage in these locations is important for evaluating the damage and making an insurance claim.

There can be indications on the inside of the house that roof leaks were caused by the hailstorm. There could be slow or recurring water leaks that start after the storm, water stains on ceilings or walls, mold or mildew, bubbling paint on ceiling and walls, wet insulation, or wet areas in the attic.


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