Last year, Western Washington experienced a mixed bag of snow, hail, and rain. The Washington Post reported about $8 to $10 billion in hail damage last year in the U.S. We don’t quite know what the upcoming months have in store for us, but we do know that all homeowners deserve a reasonable heads up about how hail can damage your roof, as well as the best course of action. Read on to learn how to protect your roof after a hailstorm.
What Factors Affect The Impact of Hail?
Hail can come in many sizes. Some hailstones are merely a few centimeters in diameter, while others can be as large as baseballs. Most, however, do not have rounded edges, meaning that they can cause considerable damage upon impact. Furthermore, high wind speeds in a hailstorm is not a good sign for your roof and property.
However, you may get lucky with natural barriers around your home or block. Tree cover or protection from neighboring structures can greatly reduce the impact of a hailstorm. Keep in mind, though, that improperly pruned trees near your property increase the risk of loose branches hitting or otherwise damaging your home.
So How Can Hail Damage My Roof?
By far, asphalt roofs are the most popular roofing choice across North America. Simply put, asphalt shingles are made of 3 layers: a fiberglass mat or cardboard, asphalt coating, and granule covering. The most common type of damage results when hail knocks off granules from the shingle. This exposes the underlying asphalt layer to the sun’s UV rays, which accelerates the breakdown of the material over time. This not only weakens the structural integrity of the shingle, but also increases its susceptibility to expand and contract in winter. These compromised shingles are at great risk for leaks and wind damage. A hail-damaged roof is almost certain to fail prematurely.
What Does Hail Damage Look Like?
A hail-damaged asphalt roof may exhibit the following signs:
Random “Bruises” On Your Roof
These will look like black or dark-colored spots with no identifiable pattern. If the granule has been freshly knocked off, the newly exposed asphalt may cause the bruise to appear shiny. In some cases, these spots will even be soft to the touch.
Granule Accumulation In Your Gutters
Hail damage is notoriously tricky to identify. If you are experiencing trouble spotting bruises on your roof, check your gutters for a disproportionate amount of loose granules. They may have fallen off during the storm and accumulated in your gutters.
Dents In Metal Parts of Roof
If you notice small dents or imperfections to your flashings, valleys, vents, or sidings, chances are that your roof has taken an unpleasant beating as well.
Keep in mind, however, that hail damage does not have to be immediate. It is not uncommon for shingle imperfections to show up after a year. Hail can weaken the bond between the asphalt and granule layer without immediate and noticeable damage. Within a year, however, you may notice circular spots where granules have gradually fallen off.
What Should My Next Steps Be?
If you suspect that your roof has suffered from hail damage, it is extremely important that you contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Be sure to document any evidence of damage and read over your insurance policy to clearly understand your rights. Keep in mind that, more often than not, the manufacturer’s’ warranty for materials such as sidings or tiles do not cover for hail damage or weather-related damage. Contact a professional and experienced roofing specialist, like Bill’s Roofing, to inspect your roof for damage and make the proper documentation and repairs.