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Hail damage can be insidious and might not always be visibly evident after a hail storm. Studies show that hail as small as one inch in diameter can cause damage to most asphalt roofing systems if the hail was driven by high winds during the storm event. Hail can affect virtually all types of roofing systems, however, the most common type of roofing system is an asphalt shingle system.
There are several factors that can determine the effect a hail storm will have on your homes asphalt roofing system. One of the first things to consider is the age of your existing roofing system. Older roofing systems have a higher probability of sustaining damage even when the average size of the hail from the storm is an inch or smaller. Multiple layers of roofing is also another factor that can make your roof more susceptible to hail damage.
Statistical data shows that hail storms in the spring tend to have larger and more dense hail while storms in the late summer to fall tend to have smaller less dense hail fall. Fall or late season hail storms tend to be cooler and create relatively soft hail which is less likely to cause major damage to a roofing system while spring storms tend to create larger and more dense hail and quite often do cause some level of damage to asphalt roofing system.
High winds are often associated with hail storms which can not only increase the chances that the hail will damage an asphalt roof it can also cause wind damage at the same time. This is why we often see missing or blow of tabs or shingles in conjunction with the hail. There may also be less obvious signs of damage cause by wind during a hail storm, if the seal or seals that keeps the asphalt roof congealed as one unit is compromised dirt, debris and water can get under the singles and cause more damage over time.
Some studies would indicate that asphalt shingles that have suffered granular loss after a hail storm have not been damaged functionally. The argument is that granules merely provide the aesthetic value and offer no protection, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Besides providing the color or aesthetic value of your roof, the granules are required to be fire resistant to surface flame or embers. This is a federally mandated function and all asphalt shingles must pass government standards for fire resistance. This small but very important fact is conveniently omitted when dealing with an insurance company that tires to deny your roof damage claim based on these grounds.
Additionally, granular loss if severe enough can actually expose the bitumen or black mat of the asphalt shingle, exposing it to the harmful UV rays of the sun. While an exposed mat may not cause any significant concern in regards to roof leakage initially, UV rays begin to oxidize the bitumen over time. Oxidation over a period of years begins to break down the bitumen and can even expose the fiberglass mat which will eventually cause your roof to leak, resulting in further damage to your homes interior.
The image above depicts what we think is a perfect example of what damaging hail strikes would look like, however, this isn’t always the case after a hail storm. It would be great if every hail storm produced this type of damage as it would make it much easier for home owners, insurance adjusters and the companies they represent and finely the contractors. It would make the hail damage inspection process much simpler and the approve of a complete roof replacement easily justifiable.
Fortunately the hail damage depicted in these images are not the top bar of approval for what determines the damage threshold and that is very fortunate for home owners. Factors such as wind speed, hail size, hail density, and whether the hail is soft or hard, will determine with varying degrees how much damage your roofing system sustains.
Because there really isn’t any set standard for how much hail damage a roof must sustain before replacement is required, many insurance companies set their own criteria. Because each insurance company sets their own criteria many self proclaimed damage experts unknowingly get into fights with a home owners insurance company about replacing a roof instead of working within the insurance companies claims handling practices. The old saying goes, honey attracts the bees.