The summer of 2017 started out with some impressive hail storms. Did you see the videos of people shoveling hailstones in Coon Rapids, MN? Or of cars with smashed windshields in the Metro Twin Cities? That brings us to a question we hear frequently: “Is my roof hail damaged?"
Here are things to consider when you are determining if you have hail damage.
First, hail is inconsistent and irregular. Your neighbor could have had hail large enough and driven by the wind fast enough to incur damage, and right next door you may not have had such large hailstones or such a powerful wind gust. Remember, hail, like the rain or snow, travels from one direction. It is very possible to can see hail damage on one side of your building, but not all sides.
Next, the hail we typically see in the upper Midwest is not large enough to damage a roof. When you see pea size--or even dime size--hail, it usually doesn’t have enough weight and it usually isn’t hard enough to damage a roof. It may take all the flowers off your plants, but it won't damage a building.
Once you see most of the hailstones golf ball size, you are more likely to see damage, but even with golf ball size hail the wind would need to be driving it into your roof. Shingle roofs and some types of siding could be damaged and you should inspect your building.
If you have baseball size hail, definitely take a look at your roof and all over your building. There are times when these large hailstones will fall apart on impact like a scoop of ice cream when it hits the ground, but usually large hail has been driven by the wind and will create damage.
What should you look for?
With shingles and metal roofs, it's easier to see the damage than with flat roofs, because the damage is obvious. The shingle is dented, the hail stone had enough force to push the granular coating into the asphalt, and the dent can be felt with your bare hand. Perhaps some of the granules have been knocked loose and are missing from the shingles, and you may even see a dotted pattern on the shingles. On a metal roof you can typically see the dents on the flat portion of standing seam panels or anywhere on an exposed fastener panel.
Flat roofs are a challenge because the damage is usually not immediately visible. Flat roofs are designed to be resistant to normal roofing perils like: foot traffic; small debris; ice and water during our freeze-thaw cycles; and even hail. Single ply membranes are tested and their puncture and tear ratings are published by the manufacturers along with a bunch of other ratings.
Hail damage typically becomes evident after a winter or two, having gone through a freeze-thaw cycle. It will look like a spiral fracture. Typically, it is also grouped in clusters of damage as you can see in the photos. It is seen the easiest in a white membrane because dust and dirt that is on a roof settles in the fracture lines and becomes very apparent.
How do you know the mark you see on a flat roof is actually a leak? Well, the old school way is to cut it open and take a look. You will find a wet substrate, and saturated insulation, wood fiber, etc.. The high-tech way is to use thermal imaging to see if there is a temperature difference between the suspect area and the rest of the roof. Either way works to determine if you have a hail loss.
What to do after you know it’s hail damage?
Hail is one of the perils specifically not covered by a manufacturer’s warranty. Coverage can be added to most flat roof warranties, but it requires additional construction materials and installation techniques to achieve a hail loss warranty. Call your insurance company and talk to them about a potential claim.
Damage from a storm, whether it is wind or hail, is unavoidable and happens regularly during our warm weather season. If you suspect damage, take a look at your building. If you aren’t one to climb on the roof or hang over the edge, call All Elements. We're happy to make an appointment to look at your building and give you an honest opinion whether you have hail damage and how extensive it is.