Curious if you have any lasting hail damage from a storm? Though we encourage you to contact a local professional for safety reasons, there are ways you can check for hail damage yourself!
Hail hits can come in many shapes and sizes, but there are a few tell-tale signs. Here is how to begin your own DIY home inspection for hail damage.
1. Check Screens and Downspouts.
Walk around your home at ground level and see if you can identify any circular indentions in soft metals. Commonly, the side of the home facing the wind will receive the most damage. On your downspouts, a hail hit leaves a circular impression. If the dent in any downspouts is more like a line, then it was probably caused by something else (such as a rogue trash can, etc). If it’s circular – and it can be as small as a dime, even- then you likely are looking at where hail struck the spout.
When hail hits screens over windows, it drags down the metal, leaving what looks like a discolored line on the screen. This is another place to check for signs that a hail storm came through.
2. Spot Dents in Gutters.
One you have inspected everything you can from the ground, set up a ladder in a safe way that will allow you to see the top of your gutters. Like downspouts, if hail were to strike the flat part on the top of the gutter, it will leave a round indention. Sometimes, it can be hard to see any indention at all. One tip is to run chalk along the top part. If the gutter is not dinged, the chalk will leave a continuous chalk line as you trace the top of the gutter. If there is an indention, the chalk will naturally skip over the top of the impression. This can help you in identifying where the gutter might be pushed in.
3. Look for Divits in Shingles.
Before we get into what to look for on shingles, let us slip in a disclaimer- falling off a roof is bad. You know this. It’s imperative to make sure you have proper safety equipment, such as a harness to prevent falls and special boots which grip tightly to the surface of roofs.
If you’re not comfortable walking on your roof, stay on the top of your ladder and simply conduct an inspection from there. You can move the ladder horizontally and check the base of the roof.
However, if you have a fairly flat roof and feel as if you can access it safely, then a strong sign of if your home has hail damage will be if you can see any impacts on the shingles. What an insurance company will look for when determining eligibility for a new roof is about 8-12 hits in a 10×10 area.
When hail hits shingles, it causes a small portion of granules to shake loose. If you live in the midwest, you can get hail that is tennis ball sized. You can see damage from this type of hail from the ground, it can be so big. However, in places like upstate South Carolina, hail is much smaller. It often leaves an impression the size of a quarter.
The dent in the shingle will often reveal the black matting underneath the granules. If the granules are loose, forming a circular shape, then it’s likely hail. Similarly, if the granules in the middle of the circle are intact, but there is a clear “ring” around them, that is another way hail hits manifest on the shingles.
Beware Mechanical Damage
The tricky part is to not misdiagnose mechanical damage for hail. Mechanical damage is often caused during the roofing installation, when a rogue tool might hit a shingle. You can recognize this because there are no granules in the circle, it’s just a dark, black, spot on the shingle. You can basically think of these as being too prominent, clean, and circular. It wouldn’t be caused by a lumpy ball of ice falling from the sky. So you always want to have a few granules in the dent to know it was caused by hail.
If you see a couple of hail spots, we recommend calling a trusted roofing company. They will send out a contractor to conduct a free inspection, then help argue on your behalf to the insurance company, to help get your claim covered.
Though it’s disappointing to know that you might have hail damage, the silver lining is this type of damage is typically entirely covered by your insurer. As cracked shingles can allow water to penetrate the roof, leading to bigger interior leaks, insurance companies like to get out ahead of that claim by simply replacing the whole roof.
So don’t hesitate to call a professional, if you see signs of damage. But also feel accomplished that you were able to get on out there and recognize hail hits yourself! Just don’t get too good at the task, because then you’ll have your neighbors calling you after each storm!
Check out some more articles, like this one on “What is a Roofing Square” or how to DIY check for hail damage.