According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, 5,601 hail storms in 2016 caused $3.5 billion in damages to properties and crops. If your home has been afflicted, you may want to know if your roof has taken a hit. Sometimes, hail damage is easy to see, but this isn't always the case. Here's how to uncover both the subtle and obvious signs of hail damage.
Inspect the Exterior of Your Home
Before climbing on your roof, grab a camera so you can photograph any damage you see around the exterior of your home as evidence for the insurance company. If the following tell-tale signs are present, there's a good likelihood that your roof is also affected.
- Dents on gutters, screens, and downspouts. Often, these imperfections are noticeable, but sometimes you have to do an up-close inspection. You may even see granules inside the gutters that have been knocked off your shingles.
- Marks on siding and windowsills. Dents, dings, and scratches can be present on both wood and vinyl siding following a hail storm.
- Evidence on air conditioning units. If you have central air, examine your condenser unit outside. Hail can leave dents and scratches here as well.
- Scuffs and chipped paint on decks. Paint or stain on decks that appear chipped can indicate bad hail damage.
Other areas of impact include anything and everything that lives outside. You can look at your mailbox, shed, and outdoor furniture for signs. Also, hail can leave impact marks on driveways and sidewalks, removing areas of algae, dirt, and grime as it falls. Look for circular areas that are lighter in color than the surrounding area for evidence of hail damage.
Check the Roof
When you're on the roof, keep in mind you're not just looking at the shingles; you'll also inspect the chimney, sky lights if you have them, and the vents. What will you be looking for? Pretty much the same things as when you were on the ground: dents, dings, scratches, and broken pieces of plastic covering sky lights.
Bring a piece of chalk with you. You may come across surfaces that don't show impact damage very easily, particularly with chimney covers. In these situations, run your chalk sideways along the surface to reveal points of impact.
Shingles. In order to get your insurance to pay for roof repairs or replacement, you have to show that your shingles (or other roofing material) have succumbed to damage. Depending on the severity of the storm and the condition of your roof beforehand, it can be easy or moderately difficult to spot the signs.
When hail impacts a shingle with sufficient force, it can knock the surface granules off completely. Areas can be large or small, and size does not matter when it comes to proving damage. You may think that a tiny spot with a few granules knocked loose is no big deal, but it compromises the integrity of your roof and, over time, can cause leaks.
Other roofing types. Metal roofs will have dents, and if the damage is bad enough, it's not that hard to spot. You might also notice something called hail splatter. These are areas of discoloration that result when slushy pieces of hail impact a metal surface. Splatter stains with no dents aren't usually considered damage.
Roofs made of wooden shake can split from one end to the other. Clay and slate roofs will crack or have areas that appear gouged out.
Contact Your Insurance Company
If you find evidence of hail damage to your roof, call your insurance company so they can send an adjuster to your home for an inspection. Very few companies will send you a check to pay for hail damage repairs as they ultimately have to approve the claim in person.
Most companies require there to be a certain amount of damage before they will pay for a new roof. In other words, one or two spots aren't enough to warrant a full replacement. But you can always talk to a roofing contractor from companies like Bob Behrends Roofing & Gutters LLC about repairing areas that seemed to have succumbed to damage in order to prevent leaks down the road.