How to Identify Hail Damage

If you’ve lived in the Midwest, you know that weather can be unpredictable and the swings in temperature and severe weather can take a toll on your home’s exterior. In 2018 alone there were 4,611 reported hailstorms across the US—185 of them in Iowa.

With plenty of hail storms moving through the area in our 20+ years in business, we’ve gotten plenty of questions about hail damage and what homeowners should know. The main thing to keep in mind when assessing hail damage is that the exterior of your home does more than just look pretty, it protects your home and everything in it.

How to Identify Hail Damage

Since most hail damage occurs on the roof, identifying damage can be difficult to do from the ground, which means you will need a steady ladder and some agility. If you don’t feel confident crawling up on your roof, Tri-County always offers free, in-person estimates.

The first place to look for hail damage is on ridge caps. Ridge caps are the overlapping shingles or pieces of metal (depending on the type of roof) where the different slopes of your roof meet. These are particularly vulnerable to hail damage because ridge caps are located at the peak of your roof, and often take more direct impacts than the sloping parts of your roof that receive glancing blows.

But your roof is more than just shingles. You will also want to check the roof vents, chimneys, and skylights for damage. Obviously, damage to a skylight can lead to water getting into your home, but vents and chimneys also play a vital role in many of the systems designed to keep your home clean and comfortable.

Different Roofs, Different Types of Damage


Painted Steel Roof Damage:

If you have a painted steel roof, identifying hail damage will be fairly easy. Since this type of roof surface is smooth it should be easy to see any “dimples” created by hail. If the dimples aren’t obvious, one trick is to take a giant piece of sidewalk chalk and rub the side of it across areas that might have damage. Any gaps in the chalk shading indicate a dent in the roof.

Stone-Coated Shingle Damage:

Most homes have asphalt, stone-coated shingles, but there are plenty of homeowners switching to stone-coated steel shingle roofs when it is time to update. Damage on coated shingle roofs can be more subtle and harder to spot because of the texture of the stone coating. First, look for any shingles that look like they have shifted or are loose. Next you will want to look for spots where the granular coating on the shingle is thin or missing. Sometimes this can be very subtle and hard to spot, but it’s still important and can impact the integrity of your roof.

Having the granular coating knocked off by hail (or anything else) can reduce the life of your shingles, even if it seems to just be a small spot. After all, a roof is only as strong as its weakest shingle. Even if there aren’t spots where the granular coating is missing there may still be “bruising.” You can identify bruising by running your hand over the shingles to see if you can feel dimples in the surface. If you find a dimple, take your finger and press down in the center. If there is “give” when you push on the dimple, this is a sign that the shingle is damaged and will start to deteriorate.

Other Places Hail Damage Can Occur:

Even before you get up on the roof, you may be able to find evidence of hail damage in other places around your home. While the roof takes the brunt of a hail storm, hail can also dent gutters and downspouts, dent or damage siding, crack windows or window casing, and even dent air conditioners units.

What to Do If You Find Hail Damage

If you spot any of the signs of damage mentioned above, you’ll want to call an experienced professional to help you determine if the damage is functional or simply cosmetic. You will also want to contact your insurance company and get pictures of the damage. Many insurance companies put a limit on how long after hail damage occurs that a homeowner can file a claim, so you don’t want to wait until your roof starts leaking to find out that your home’s hail damage wasn’t just cosmetic.

Ask the Experts

Are you worried that your roof may have hail damage after a recent storm? We always offer free, in-person estimates to assess damages and give you the right course of action so your roof protects your home for years to come!

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