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Thunderous thumping, loud popping, and clattering on the streets—there is no mistaking a hailstorm as it blankets your neighborhood in a slushy coat of ice. But when a powerful thunderstorm drops a burst of hail, the impact can be felt on more than your ears. Hailstorms can, unfortunately, wreak havoc on your home, including your roof, and the damages may not be obvious at first. If you’ve experienced a hailstorm, you should have your roof inspected by a professional roofing contractor to identify any issues and protect your home from future damage. A leaky roof isn’t the only sign of serious hail damage. Here’s what you should look for if you think your roof has sustained damage from a hailstorm:

How should I assess my roof for hail damage?

After a hailstorm, daring homeowners may be tempted to climb onto the roof and look for signs of damages. Resist the urge to perform the inspection yourself, as it is very dangerous to climb on your roof. And unless you are a professional roofer, it can be difficult to identify hail damage and determine the extent of hail damage. Always contact a professional roofing contractor to conduct an inspection of your roof if you suspect damage after a hailstorm. Most roofing companies will perform an inspection for free.

What are some signs of hail damage to my roof?

Although you cannot determine the amount of hail damage on a roof from the ground, there are several signs to look for, absent a leaky roof or wet attic, if you suspect you have potential roof damage related to a hailstorm.

Damage to gutters: Look for dented gutters, gutter screens, and downspouts. Hail is likely to dent and dimple the soft metals on your roof before it damages your shingles. If you observe damage in these areas, there could be damages to your roof.

Damage to siding: Look for damage to your home’s siding and windowsills. Damage will appear as dents, dings, or other signs of impact. These are all indications of a storm that was violent enough to have damaged your roof as well.

Damage to A/C unit and deck: Look for damages to other outdoor items, such as the exterior air conditioning unit, garden ornaments, fences, decks, and other painted surfaces. Indentations, dimples, and chipped paint may be the result of hail impact and could signal roof damage, too.

Damage to vehicles: Look at any vehicles that were exposed to the hailstorm. Check for small dings or dents on the body of the vehicle. If the hailstorm was strong enough to damage vehicles, your roof may have also sustained damages.

If you witness dents or cracks on your gutters, indentations and dings on your home’s siding, or damages to vehicles and other outdoor items such as air conditioning units, decks, and fencing, you should contact a roofing contractor to schedule a thorough inspection of your roof.

How does hail damage affect my roof?

When hail batters your roof, the asphalt granules on the shingles can become loose or fall off. Sometimes, the impact of the hail can crack the shingle itself. Loose asphalt granules often become separated from the shingles and will run down into your gutters, collecting in your downspouts. Larger-sized hail will show granule loss immediately, while smaller-sized hail will only loosen the granules. Both types of damage can be very serious, since granules protect the asphalt in the shingles. Once the granules are gone, the asphalt is exposed to the elements, which can lessen the life and integrity of your roof and cause leaks that damage the interior and structure of your home.

What factors contribute to hail damage?

The severity of hail damage to a roof depends on several factors, including hail size, roofing materials, age of roof system, slope of roof, and quality of construction. Older roofs are much more susceptible to hailstorm damage. Poorly constructed roofing systems and roofing systems constructed with poorer quality materials are also more prone to damage during a hailstorm. The severity of hail damage is rated in terms of degrees of damage and includes: bruising, granule loss, edge removal, wood splitting, and fracturing of the asphalt underlayment. An experienced roofing contractor can help you identify the extent of damages to your roof following a hailstorm.

Can previous hail damage cause my roof to leak?

Hail damage to your roof does not always cause immediate or obvious leaks. Remnants of a hailstorm can be felt by homeowners months after a significant storm, presenting the next time it rains. In fact, hail damage often goes undetected until after leaking, as shingles damaged from a hailstorm continue to deteriorate. Following a hailstorm, inspect your interior ceiling after heavy rains for any apparent water damage several times throughout the year. Water staining on the ceiling is a good sign of roof damage. Check your attic for any leaky surprises as well. But most importantly, contact a qualified roofing contractor after a hailstorm to thoroughly inspect your roof and prevent costly, future damages to your home.

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