Do you have roof damage from a hail storm? You’re not alone. State Farm paid $3.5 billion in hail claims in 2022. An increase in hail events and inflation increased the claims by more than $1 billion over 2021.
If these numbers make you nervous, let's learn how to recognize hail damage on your roof and discuss what you can do about it.
What does hail damage look like?
The appearance of hail damage on your roof depends on the roofing material used. For instance, what you would see on asphalt shingles looks different from the damage to a metal roof.
If you notice other signs of hail damage on your home, like dents or dings in your gutters and downspouts, flashing or vents, or holes in your vinyl siding, your roof deserves an inspection. Here are the signs of hail damage to look for on different types of roofs.
Asphalt or composite shingles
Hail damage on an asphalt shingle roof. Image source: Nachi
Hail damage on asphalt shingles can appear as:
- Granule loss
- Small divots or impact marks
- Black spots
- Tears at the edge of the shingle
- Cracks in the shingle
To an untrained eye, damage to an asphalt shingle can appear minor. But sometimes, the impact can crack the underside of a roof shingle, reducing its effectiveness. Only a professional roofer can diagnose a compromised shingle, assess the amount of damage, and tell you if it needs to be replaced.
Slate or clay tile roof
Slate or clay tile roofs are attractive options for your historic or luxury home as they are long-lasting and pleasing to the eye. However, hail can still cause damage you’ll need to address before you’re lining up buckets to catch rainwater that’s passed through your roofing system.
Slate or tile may display cracks or gouges after a hail storm. Their corners can break, edges chip, or the tile may break apart entirely. These types of roofs are a considerable investment. To protect that investment and to give you peace of mind, have your tile roof inspected by a professional after a hail storm.
A sturdy and long-lasting roofing option, metal roofs–sheet metal or shingles–come in steel, aluminum, or copper. But no matter what form or material your metal roof is made of, it can still show signs of hail damage.
The most obvious sign of hail damage on a metal roof is the appearance of dings and dents. The larger and faster the hail size, the larger the marks it leaves, and huge hailstones can puncture the metal. While most hail causes only cosmetic damage, the dents left behind can lead to rust, depending on the type of metal. Also, since most metal roofs are treated with paint or another coating, hail can leave scratch marks or a scouring effect that jeopardizes the protective nature of the coating.
How do I tell if my roof is damaged by hail?
When performing a roof inspection, look closely for damage to the shingles or metal covering, roof vents, and flashing. Also, inspect the attic for moisture, especially in the valleys and under the vents and chimneys. Undetected water leaking into the attic can damage stored belongings, insulation, and other building components long before it comes through the ceiling.
You may think you're invincible and can easily walk on a roof. Or maybe, you're scared to death of the prospect. Either way, it's not safe.
Here are a few ways to safely inspect your roof without walking on it and possibly getting injured or causing further damage.
- Use a ladder wisely. A sturdy ladder long enough that you don't have to step on the top rung is ideal. For a two-story home requiring an extension ladder, ensure it's in good working order and is rated to hold your weight, plus any tools or materials you'll be carrying. Always place it on solid, level ground and secure it to the structure. As an added safety measure, have a helper stand guard. If you're alone, at least have your phone in your pocket if you fall.
- Wear safe shoes. On a ladder, avoid heels that could get caught on the rungs. No stilettos allowed. Flat, slip-resistant soles are ideal. Make sure the ladder and your feet are dry.
- Use binoculars. Use binoculars if you can't see all the way to the ridge from the top of the ladder. Or, skip the ladder and use the binoculars from the safety of the ground. Walk around to get a good look at the entire roof. Even cross the street if you need to get the best angles.
- Fly a drone. Are ladders not your thing? Many home inspectors now use drones for inspecting hard-to-reach places. If you don’t have one, your teenage neighbor might.
For more information about hail and other storm-related damage, check out our Storm Damage Recovery Cost Guide.
Can I claim hail damage on my homeowner's insurance?
In short, yes. Your homeowner’s insurance policy may cover hail damage. If you have damage, call your insurance company to have a representative walk you through the claim process. But before you file an insurance claim, get the ball rolling by first calling a trusted roofing professional. Typically, roofing contractors will respond sooner than an insurance adjuster, and then, when the insurance adjuster arrives, you’ll already have a quote to show them.
Can I repair hail damage on my roof?
Your roof is your home’s primary defense against the elements. Unfortunately, roof repair or replacement is not a DIY-friendly project. If you’ve never worked on a roof before and are unsure how to proceed, call a professional. They’ll be able to tell you if the damage is as minor as replacing a couple of shingles. They’ll also let you know the urgency of the situation.
Get an itemized estimate that consists of the entire scope of work. It should include items like the following:
- Type of damage
- The extent of the damage
- Whether you need a repair or a roof replacement
- The roofing materials needed
How can I prevent hail from damaging my roof?
Believe it or not, preventing hail damage is possible without erecting a circus tent over your house. The answer is using impact-resistant, otherwise known as Class 4, shingles. Of course, no shingle is hail-proof. But some withstand the impact of hail better than others. If you’re in the market for a new roof, shop for shingles with a Class 4 rating. During Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) testing to simulate hail hits, these Class 4 shingles did not crack when impacted twice in the same spot by a 2-inch steel ball.
What happens if I put off repairing hail damage on my roof?
Your home is only as secure as the roof over your head. You may not have water dripping on your Persian rug now, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t incur significant damage to the covering, underlayment, decking, or flashing–the main components that keep out moisture. Granule loss on shingles doesn’t just look unsightly. It exposes the shingle to damaging UV rays which can affect its performance going forward. The same goes for other roofing materials.
Your next step: hire a roof replacement professional
Written byCarol J Alexander Content Specialist and Subject Matter Expert
Carol J Alexander is a home remodeling industry expert for Fixr.com. For more than 15 years as a journalist and content marketer, her in-depth research, interviewing skills, and technical insight have ensured she provides the most accurate and current information on a given topic. Before joining the Fixr team, her personal clients included leaders in the building materials market like Behr Paint Company, CertainTeed, and Chicago Faucet, and national publications like This Old House and Real Homes.