Hail Roof Damage
Even a moderate hailstorm can cause damage to a roof. The tricky part of assessing this damage is that it may not be obvious immediately after the storm, and different types of roofing materials will experience different kinds of damage.
Hail resistant Roofs
Though 'hail-proof' roof materials are not available, 'hail-resistant' materials are available. The official standard in hail-resistance is given by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) and is rated class 1 through class 4 (the best). In general, clay tile and wood shake roofs are not likely to survive many hailstorms unscathed. Concrete tile, composite shingles and metal roofs are more likely to endure hail with minimal or no damage. Check with the manufacturer of roof materials to determine what, if any, hail rating is given to a particular product. Hail ratings can vary by brand, so be sure to research the brand and type of material before purchasing.
Some roofing materials withstand hailstorms even if they have not been rated by the ASTM (i.e. flat roof materials). To find out if a particular roofing product will withstand hail reasonably well, ask other homeowners and/or roof contractors about their experience with the material in question. In some cases, a particular installation method may mean the difference in weathering a hailstorm and a leaky roof.
Documenting Roof Damage from Hail
Insurance companies may question a damage claim after a hailstorm for at least two reasons. First, the damage may not be apparent immediately. And second, damage from hailstorms may simply be cosmetic and the life and effectiveness of the roof will not be impacted.
To determine if you really have damage that warrants repairs talk with your insurance company about how they determine damage under their policy. If a company requires a certain number of damaged-spots (impacts) per roof square, then you will need to document that you do, in fact, have the required damaged areas to have a claim covered. One way to document hail damage is to measure off one square of roof (100 square feet or a 10' by 10' area) and count the number of hail impacts (dents, cracks, bare asphalt, etc.) in that area. Do this in three or four locations on your roof, and take the average number of 'hits' in each area. The resulting number will be how many 'impacts/square', and will help the insurance company determine whether or not your roof damage qualifies for coverage.
Assessing Hail Damage on Composite Shingles
Composite shingles are designed to protect your roof from water by using a tar/asphalt layer covered by gravel and granules that protect the tar from the UV rays of the sun. This means that hail can cause future damage to a roof by dislodging the granules on the surface of shingles. To document damage from hailstorms that may not be immediately visible, track changes in shingle appearance and excess granules in gutters or under eaves for weeks and months after a hailstorm. We recommend calling your insurance company immediately after the storm, and note that there is no apparent damage after the storm, but that you will document any future loss of granules or appearance of bare shingles in the next few months. Make notes on any changes in your roof after each rainstorm, with the date and observed change (e.g. rain on May 12, 2 weeks after hail storm, significant granules found in gutters). Photographs can also help support your case, as long as the date is included on the picture.
Repairing Hail Damaged Roofs
The good news is that most damage from hailstorms is cosmetic and won't adversely affect the life of the roof. Moderately severe hail damage that strips shingles of their mineral coatings may shorten the life of the roof (and may qualify for repairs covered by your insurance). If the damage is more than surface and causing leaks, address the issues (holes, cracked shingles, etc.) as necessary by covering exposed areas with tarps held in place with wood strips and nails. When you are able to access the roof, permanently repair the sheathing and replace the missing and damaged shingles, tiles or shakes.
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