Hail is a powerful force of nature, especially in south-east Queensland. But did you know even minor hail storms can damage your roof in subtle yet significant ways? These subtle signs of hail roof damage — like shingle granules in your roof gutters or broken corners on your clay roof tiles — are easy to miss. That is, until the damage increases over time, resulting in expensive roof leaks or an urgent need to replace your roof.
Our roof inspection checklist will help you identify signs of hail roof damage. If you’re a homeowner, this is a must-read! In this article, we’ll explore all your burning questions, such as:
- How fast does hail fall?
- How does hail damage a roof?
- Can pea sized hail damage a roof?
- What is hail and how does hail form?
- What factors make my roof vulnerable to hail damage?
- What are the subtle and major signs of hail damage on a roof?
- What should I do if I discover hail damage on my roof?
- How do I know if I need a hail damage roof inspection from a professional?
- What are signs of hail damage to roof shingles?
What Is Hail? How Does Hail Form?
Hail is a type of frozen precipitation that can inflict massive damage to roofs, buildings and vehicles.
Hail formation is actually quite simple. Here’s how it works: In freezing temperatures, a hailstone will form around tiny nuclei floating through the air, such as a water droplet or particle of dust. Carried high into the storm clouds by wind, this nascent hailstone will rapidly freeze and grow in size, picking up more moisture from the rain and water vapour as it is tossed lower into the atmosphere by the wind, only to get snatched up by storm currents again to freeze again.
The more powerful the storm winds, the longer the hail will circle back and forth between freezing and non-freezing temperatures, increasing in size. Ultimately, the hailstone will drop to the ground, inflicting damage on roofs and buildings on the ground.
How Fast Does Hail Fall?
No one knows for sure how fast hail falls. After all, the speed of each falling hailstone is unique depending on its size. But experts estimate a marble-size hailstone will fall at 32 kilometres per hour and cricket ball size hail can fall faster than 160 kilometres per hour.
How Does Hail Damage A Roof?
The severity of hail damage on your roof depends on several factors. These include:
Hailstone Size, Density & Shape
Hailstones vary greatly in size, density and shape.
Experts believe that hailstones larger than 3 centimetres wreak the worst damage. Large hailstones accelerated by high winds have even been known to puncture older, weaker roofs. Jagged hailstones with rough edges are more powerful and dangerous on impact.
Roofs with multi-layered shingles are vulnerable to penetration from smaller size hailstones because these hailstones can easily strike the soft support area under the top shingle layer.
Many homeowners want to know, ‘Can pea-sized hail damage a roof?’ Unfortunately, even the smallest hail impact can trigger a roof leak or other major problems that can compromise the long-term value and safety of your roof.
Roof Age and Condition
The age and condition of your roof will affect the degree of damage caused by a hailstorm. A roof that has been neglected recently sustained other types of roof damage, or is simply become weaker with age attract a higher risk of hail damage than a newer, well-maintained roof.
The speed, intensity, and direction of the wind during a hailstorm can greatly affect the severity of the hail and ultimately your hail roof damage. High winds do the most damage, influencing the velocity and angle of the impact.
Physical barriers, such as tall tree cover, landscaping or neighbouring structures such as fences or adjacent buildings, can help shield your roof from the impact of a hailstorm.
What Are The Subtle and Major Signs of Hail Damage On A Roof?
In the aftermath of a hailstorm, it’s important to walk around your property and investigate any damage resulting from hailstones or wind. It’s worthwhile to be thorough with your hailstone damage roof inspection. Picking up on any minor hail damage now will save you a headache and heartache later. Remember, any problems that go undetected will become worse and more costly to fix as time goes on.
That’s why it’s worth it to hire an experienced roofing professional to inspect your roof. If even a few small granules have been knocked off your roof, the integrity of your shingles may be compromised, resulting in a future water leak.
Roof Hail Damage On Roof Vents, Chimneys and Skylights
First, you want to check your roof vents for dents, dings and chipped surfaces.
Roof vents are often made of lightweight metal or plastic. Dents in a metal vent or cracks in a plastic vent are telltale signs that your roof has been hit with heavy hail.
Next, inspect the metal flashing around the chimney. Examine your metal chimney covers for dents. Run your chalk sideways over the surface to locate the hail impact points.
Finally, if your roof has skylights, check for cracked or broken glass.
Gutters can also suffer damage from hail. Steel gutters are the most likely to survive a hailstorm without damage, while seamless gutters with an aluminium or copper construction may show signs of denting or dimpling. Gutters made out of vinyl may have punctures and cracks.
If you have a gutter leaf guard or gutter screen, check for tears or deformation in the metal or plastic. Shingle granules in your gutters are a sign of hail damage to your roof shingles.
Hail Damage To Roof Shingles
While most roofs can withstand hailstorms, each roofing material will absorb and react to hailstone impact differently.
Asphalt shingle hail damage
When a hailstone hits an asphalt shingle roof, the following things typically happen:
- The hailstone may break or crack the roof shingle, exposing it to further damage.
- The asphalt may be damaged.
- The impact can loosen the granules that top the shingle and provide protection from UV rays.
- If the asphalt is directly exposed to the sun without the protective layer of granules, the shingle may become brittle, crack, blister, attract algae, become vulnerable to edge damage and invite water leaks.
Here are some signs that your asphalt shingle roof has been compromised:
- You can spot places where the protective granules are missing, exposing the underlying roof felt or roof membrane
- There are black or extremely dark dents on the shingles
- Fractures, holes or soft bruising appear on the shingles’ surface
- The damage looks random without a clear pattern
- The asphalt appears shiny
- The asphalt shows stress cracks, punctures or dimples
- The shingles are curling
- Shingles are broken
- Shingles are only partially attached and flap in the wind
- Algae or moss has started to grow, suggesting that water is leaking in or pooling in the cracks created by the hailstones
Wooden shingle hail damage
Wooden shingles can split and warp when under attack from heavy hail. The following are typical signs of hail damage:
- The shingles are curling
- Shingles show stress cracks and brown or orange surface splits
- Splits in the shingle have sharp corners and edges with little or no signs of deterioration (suggesting the damage is recent)
- The dents are formed in a random pattern
- Algae and moss may grow in the splits
Aluminium or metal roofing hail damage
Metal roofs can instantly crack during a hail storm. Here are some signs your metal roof has been damaged by a hailstorm:
- You can see clear dents and dings from the impact of hailstones when you run chalk sideways over the metal surface
- There may be punctures or deeper cracks from larger hailstones
If you have a metal roof, hail damage can be particularly serious. Dents and the loss of the top layer of paint in your metal roof can lead to structural weak points, decreasing the lifespan of your metal roof sheets and flashing. Large dents can make your metal roof vulnerable to early corrosion from dirt and water leaks.
Clay, concrete and slate roof hail damage
With a clay, concrete or slate roof, the major danger is that the roofing material will crack or break where the hail impacts. If your roof has been compromised:
- You may see cracks or gouges where the hailstones hits
- The tiles may be broken
What Should I Do If I Discover Hail Damage on My Roof?
If you suspect your roof has been damaged in a hailstorm, it’s definitely a good idea to have a roofing professional examine your roof thoroughly. They will be able to make an accurate assessment of the damage, including any damage to the shingles and roof membrane. If the hail roof damage is extensive, you may be able to make a hail roof insurance claim.
Need to have your roof inspected for hail damage by professionals? Contact us today on (07) 3623 4422 for a quote.