What does hail damage look like on a roof?

close-up of a man holding large hailstones

Keeping Your Roof Safe

Texas is one of the states in “Tornado Alley,” and with that tag comes storms all year long, many causing hail damage to roofs. So, you may be asking, “How does hail damage a roof?” The answer is simple: hard hail impact will crack and dent your roofing, which can loosen the roofing material from the decking. Then the high winds can grab a shingle or shingles, cause them to bend, and rip them off your home. 

This is a big problem, as a hail damaged roof leaves your roofing exposed to the elements with bare spots. Bare areas and cracked shingles are not effectively protecting your roof. Your next question is probably, “How can I tell if my roof has hail damage?” As a homeowner, it is important for you to know how to check a roof for hail damage enough that you know when you need a professional roof inspection. 

Common Signs of Hail Damage

Signs that are obvious are dents on the metal flashing, gutters, and downspouts. Other indications of a possible hail damaged roof are: 

  • Check from the direction the hailstorm came for missing asphalt granules on shingles. A hail damaged roof will have bare areas on the shingles and gutter runs will have excessive amounts of granules in them. 
  • There may be round and teardrop shapes or pits in the shingles. 
  • Bruised and damaged shingles will eventually absorb water and it will soak through to the underlayment and decking.
  • Check for cracks on the asphalt shingles.
  • Split asphalt shingles are another common sign.
  • Damaged chimney or chimney cap, ridge caps, rubber boots
  • Dark and discolored shingles 

Will hail damage a metal roof?

A metal roof is a very durable and tough roofing material with high resistance to hail damage, but this resistance is not 100%. While hail stones will not penetrate metal roofing, it can cause some damage. Common damage includes denting, which is generally cosmetic in nature, though a roof inspection may still be recommended.

What size hail will damage a roof?

Hail is formed when moisture is carried by rising air from a storm to the extremely cold atmosphere. When the warm moisture is combined with the cold air, the rain freezes. The stronger that updraft of air, the bigger the hailstones are, and the bigger they are, the more damage they can cause, like hail-damaged roofs, even if made of metal. 

All roofing materials are rated on their resistance using a 1 to 4 scale of impact resistance by Underwriters Laboratories (UL rating). Most asphalt shingles do not have an impact rating, putting them in Class 4 along with metal roofing. 

The Class 4 rating is done by using a 2” steel ball for testing and dropping it from a twenty-foot height. To be graded at a Class 4, the roofing material cannot show any damage from that 20-foot drop. That includes no cracking, fracture, rupture, splitting, or tearing. These results are estimated at what a hail damage roof would receive from 2” hailstones. For an idea of what kind of hail damage roofs can get from hailstones, the following can give you an idea: 

  • ¼” hail stone = damage the size of green peas
  • ¾” hail stone = damage the size of a penny
  • 1” hail stone = damage the size of a quarter
  • 1-1/2” hail stone = damage the size of a ping pong ball
  • 1-3/4” hail stone = damage the size of a golf ball
  • 2” hail stone = damage the size of a lime
  • 2-1/2” hail stone = damage the size of a tennis ball
  • 2-3/4” hail stone = damage the size of a baseball
  • 4” hail stone = damage the size of a softball
  • 4-1/2” hail stone = damage the size of a grapefruit

Should I replace a roof after hail damage?

By those measurement estimates, it is certain that hailstones can definitely damage a roof. A ¼” hail stone won’t cause that much hail damage to roofing that is in good condition. With a roof that is 15 years old or older, that same ¼” hail stone could cause severe hail damage. Roofing conditions are going to affect the amount of damage. 

If the roof doesn’t have any leaks, there is no need to replace it, though you should have it inspected by a professional roofing contractor. An experienced contractor that knows how to repair roof hail damage can advise you of the need for the repairs needed, if any. 

How do you prevent roof damage from hail?

You can’t really “prevent” hail roof damage short of building a shed over your entire home. However, you can choose a Class 4 roofing material that is rated by the UL for impact resistance. So, does insurance cover roof hail damage? Maybe, if your roof is less than 10 years old and has been well maintained, then yes, your homeowner’s insurance will typically pay to replace the roof or for basic repairs. 

damaged metal roof covered in hailstones

Topping It Off

When there has been a significant weather event in your area, having a professional roofing inspector come out is recommended. They can also inspect your siding and other areas around your home for hail damage. Your insurance company will have an adjuster out to inspect as well and, if possible, it’s a good idea to have the contractor there at the same time.